Open Range: Relay for LIfe
Grand County, CO Colorado
I knew it was coming, but it still hit me out of the blue.
My father, sitting across the table at a restaurant in New England last week, began the conversation.
“If I pre-decease your mother …”
The piece of grilled chicken I was swallowing stuck in my throat like a dry sponge. I took a measured breath and tried to remain calm.
He had recently been diagnosed with cancer. He was asymptomatic, but the tumors were discovered serendipitously during a scan for something else.
Although the cancer was found at an early stage, he faces a serious operation, so he was not engaging in random morbidity. It was a necessary conversation, which made it no more comfortable.
Nearly half way though his eighth decade, he had remarked weeks earlier how he didn’t really expected to live that much longer anyway. Still, he said, “I’m not ready to die.”
According to the American Cancer Society, in the United States, “men have slightly less than a 1 in 2 lifetime risk of developing cancer; for women, the risk is a little more than 1 in 3.” Cancer will kill nearly 600,000 Americans this year.
Those are sobering numbers, and most of us likely know someone whose life was changed by cancer. For us, it’s no longer just a dreaded diagnosis: It’s personal. Fortunately, we are far from helpless – or alone – in this battle.
Cancer death rates continue to drop, thanks in part to events such as the Grand County Relay for Life, which will take place on the Middle Park High School football field Aug. 7-8. Among other things, the event is fundraiser with all the proceeds used to help Grand County cancer patients and caregivers.
Two years ago, when the Sky-Hi Daily News fielded a Relay for Life team, I walked the track for two hours in the middle of the night. One of the things that kept my mind occupied during all those laps was reading what loved ones had written on the sides of the luminaria lining the inside of the track.
It was a moving experience. The sentiments expressed were variously uplifting and heartbreaking. One that touched me then and now more than ever was, “We miss you Dad.”
I highly recommend participating. It’s easier than ever, and you no longer need to be part of a formal team. You’ll meet great people during this celebration of hope and remembrance. It can even be entertaining, despite the serious nature of the cause.
It may not make you feel better – though it probably will – but your contribution just might help boost someone else’s spirits when they need it most.
– Drew can be reached at (970) 887-3334 ext. 19600 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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