Many connect deeply to Relay

Published 10:34 pm Thursday, April 23, 2009

For most of Chilton County’s past Relay for Life events, I didn’t have a personal reason to participate in the festivities. This was because no one in my close family had been stricken with cancer, except in cases where the cancer was detected very early and defeated.

Granted, when someone is diagnosed with cancer, it’s a very serious matter regardless of the stage or type. And we were more than glad to hear the good news concerning my grandparents.

When I did attend my first Relay several years ago, I couldn’t help getting caught up in the moment. I applauded the survivors as they walked around the track, and thought about those who had lost the battle.

I cannot say I was jealous of what the people had experienced, because no one wants a family member to have cancer. If this makes any sense, though, I was jealous of the closeness between people who had been brought together by similar tragedies or victories that were more dramatic than those I had experienced.

Then I learned my grandmother had traces of bone cancer. She had other health problems, too, but she had always been healthy because she ate right and exercised every day. She would get up at daybreak and walk around the block, and often I would meet her on the way to work.

But cancer does not discriminate, as so many have come to find out. And in February, God granted Burnice Heaps peace. He did not do it in the way we would have chosen, but we would not have wanted her to suffer. (Just four months earlier I lost my other grandmother, Miriam Mims, to a series of health problems that started with a stroke).

When I attend tonight’s Relay, I expect that I will no longer feel out of place. I expect the event will minister to me in a way like never before, as we strive to find a cure for this terrible disease we call cancer.