JaniceHeck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Have You Lost a Family Member, Friend, or Acquaintance to Cancer?

Photo: Opening Ceremonies for Relay for Life

If you have lost a family member, friend, or acquaintance to cancer, you may want to join a Relay for Life in your area. These Relays are held all over the country and world with teams of people raising funds for cancer research. Find a Relay team in your area here.

Relay for Life gives a unique opportunity to remember those family members, friends, and acquaintances who have lost their battle to cancer; to pray and hope with loved ones who currently battle cancer; and to celebrate the lives of those whose cancer has been cured or is in remission.

Our local Relay will be held on June 22, 2012 at the Ocean City (NJ) High School track. Last year approximately 75 teams participated in the Ocean City Relay for Life, and we hope for that many teams or more again this year.

The opening ceremony sets the tone for the Relay (an all-night event with people walking the track from 6 pm to 7 am, only taking time off for short naps in tents on the field). It is a night of sadness and joy; a night of walking, talking, and bonding with family and friends; a night of music, games, challenges, contests, and outrageous silliness.

The cancer survivors’ walk, one of two most poignant events of the evening, comes first. Cancer survivors, wearing purple survivors’ shirts, walk the first lap, giving proof that cancer can be beaten. Relay participants stand along the side of the track and cheer, recognizing the sheer determination and courage it takes to fight cancer.

The second poignant event occurs after dark when luminaria (brightly decorated white paper bags with battery powered candles representing all those family members and acquaintances who have lost their battle with cancer) line the perimeter of the track. These luminaria stand in memory of and in honor of moms, dads, babies, children, teens, grandmoms, granddads, aunts, uncles, friends, and other acquaintances. The stadium lights dim; the crowd stands in silence in memory of loved ones lost. Memories and tears flow.

My extended family has four Relay for Life teams: The Krewe du Kroey (the original team in Texas); NJ Krewe du Kroey (my team); the South Carolina Krewe du Kroey; and the hardest working team, Kroey’s Teens against Cancer of Burleson, TX, led by my great niece 13-years-old Phoebe Chambers.  The TX and SC teams have already completed their 2012 Relay. (You can read more about the origins of Krewe du Kroey here.)

We participate in Relay for Life because we have lost family members to this terrible disease:

my late husband, Victor Patrick Hall;

my great niece, nine-year-old Joanne Theresa King;

my younger brother, Robert Kroelinger (“Texas Bob”);

my nephew, Darrel Varnam;

my brother-in-law, Don Millward;

and several of my mother’s sisters and brothers.

Friends, too, are battling cancer or have lost the battle.

This year, the Queen Bee of the Texas Relay for Life, Miss Phoebe Chambers, my very talented and charming great-niece, will rejoin the NJ Krewe for the 2012 Ocean City Relay. Pheebs will do anything for attention to raise money to fight against cancer. Her grandfather, Robert Kroelinger, my brother, lost his battle to cancer two years ago.

This year Pheebs will do a grand repetition of  2010 Ocean City blueberry funnel cake fiasco fund-raiser. This event should not be missed. Aunt Patty (cancer survivor) certainly enjoyed smashing Phoebe in the face with the blueberry funnel cake helped the last time Phoebe got stuck with this job volunteered to do this particular fun and tasty fund-raising event. So it was messy. So what?

Just throw some of that folding green stuff in Phoebe’s beach bucket and watch the humiliation fun begin. This is a quiet fundraiser other than the laughter and catcalls, so no coins!

I think it’s my turn this year…to manhandle the funnel cake, that is. HeeHeeHee. Watch out, Pheebs, I’m gonna getcha!

Oh well, Phoebe is a great sport, as well as an enthusiastic fund raiser for Relay for Life. Together with her Kroey Teens against Cancer she helped raise over $10,000 for cancer research. That’s a lot of funnel cakes in the face!

If you want to support this on-going cancer-fighting effort, come join us on Friday night, June 22, at the Ocean City (NJ) High School football field, or look for a Relay for Life in your area. I can guarantee you will laugh, and you will cry. The emotional impact that cancer creates when a loved one is lost to this horrible disease is high, but together we can work towards a cure. The Relay provides a bit of catharsis for all of us.

YOUR TURN: Have you lost someone to cancer? Have you found a Relay for Life near you? What was your Relay like? Did the Relay help you cope with your loss?

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11 thoughts on “Have You Lost a Family Member, Friend, or Acquaintance to Cancer?

  1. Thanks for this beautiful & touching post, Janice! I so HATE this disease and as a cancer survivor who’s lost most of my family to cancer, it was emotional looking at all the pictures of your loved ones who’ve passed. I bookmarked your link so I can find and join a local Relay For Life team. Hugs & God Bless!

    • Thanks, Elaine. I think you will enjoy Relay. It is such a wonderful way to keep the memories of our loved one who have passed alive. It’s so important that we do not forget them. We don’t need to grieve forever, but we do need to remember and honor them. Let me know if you join a Relay.

  2. What a beautiful way to remember and honor your loved ones. Thank you for sharing it. Cheers and best wishes to you and your team in the Relay!

  3. I haven’t lost anyone to cancer, but my baby brother has been battling with it for years. Your post is truly lovely and inspirational.

  4. Scrolling through your pictures left me so emotional. My father died of cancer six years ago this month and while he isn’t the only one in my life who has been lost to this horrific disease, his is the picture I see in my head when the word cancer comes up. I love your niece with her bumble bee spirit and that you shared your story with us.

  5. Sara, I was sorry to hear about your dad. Relay for Life means so much to our family. And our bumblebee Pheebs has become a leader in fundraising because of her grandfather’s cancer. Many people walk around with broken hearts and wounded spirits because of cancer. We can only fight against it through research and sticking together. Peace and blessings to you.

  6. Wow, it’s had a dramatic impact on your close family, Janice. That’s great that you’re participating in such a strong fashion. Hope it goes wonderfully.

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