The last month I have had the honor and privlege of participating in several Relay For Life’s, the signature fund-raising event for the American Cancer Society. WOW! Did Juneau ever roll the red carpet out for me!! What a BLAST!! And I even brought some of our sun (although not as warm!!)
I’ve had the honor to walk in survivor/care-giver walks, (the most special was with my blue haired mohawked son!!) I’ve been honored to speak at a survivor’s dinners and to experience Relay in several other communities other than my own.
I have to say, in ALL my years of Relaying, I have NEVER felt so honored as a survivor as I did this year. PT Jean as I call her, and her co-horts went above and beyond, starting with a dinner at the Elk’s Lodge on a beautiful evening, with an over-flowing crowd, to goodie bags, to words of wisdom shared by her sister’s book “Fight with Cowgirl Spirit”. Her sister had fought a valiant battle with cancer and we remembered her as we do all our fallen loved ones to this ugly disease during the luminaria service.
We got a chance to honor survivors and caregivers – like Connor and Carson Dunham whose family and friends still keep his team going even though he had to move to Seattle to be closer to treatment. I feel it is SO important to NOT forget the caregivers – like the parents and the siblings – as I feel THEY have the harder job as we fight this ugly disease. It was fun to hear some of their answers and we learned much from kids who have had to grow up much faster than they should have to because of cancer. The family was able to make the trip up this year to join us for Relay, and thus I had the pleasure of “interviewing” the two squirts. Connor has been fighting ALL leukemia since he has been two. He is now 9!! THAT’S another thing Relay For Life does – monies raised goes for RESEARCH to keep kids like Connor and geezers like me still around!!
This year was a bit bittersweet for me and many at Relay. My co-captain of Team Leon and Care’s Fight for Life, and my co-hort in Kingdom Capers and mischief, waltzed into the gates of Heaven, after St. Peter gave him the nod, the day before Relay – yes, the day I spoke at the Survivor’s dinner and “interviewed” Connor and Carson. He too, had fought valiantly – brain cancer or glioblastoma multiforme.
All of this has given me more reasons, for as long as I have breath to remind people of the 1-800-227 (ACS)-2345 phone number where you can talk to a LIVE person 24/7 to get help, resources and more and to direct folks to http://www.cancer.org , the American Cancer Society website. This is the 100th Anniversary of the American Cancer Society. We’ve come a long way, baby……and THIS is the century to FIND THE CURE and yes, even ACS has said, they would be willing to be put out of business if that were to happen!!
So find a Relay in your area – check it out – go have some fun – see friends, co-workers and community members, students, teachers and neighbors who are all joining to REMEMBER! CELEBRATE but mostly FIGHT BACK!! Together we CAN do it!!
Now on to the next Relay: Relay at Sea going from Seattle to Skagway, to Ketchikan, to Juneau, to Victoria, BC and back to Seattle the end of August. I’m working hard on fund-raising (separate from funds raised for “regular” ACS/Relay For Life – I have to find SOME way to get on that ship and educate, bring awareness and show others what it is like in Alaska and how different the battle is when we fight up here. (If you are interested in helping you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) I have a 3rd generation Aleut elder who has hand-made 2 beautiful survivor/caregiver kuspuks to helpi in the fund-raising efforts; I am taking donations (YOU choose what you want to donate!!) until August 1st, when 2 lucky people will find themselves with amazing ceremonial kuspuks – an heirloom for sure,
Care Tuk is a nationally known speaker, educator, and retreat/workshop leader. She has been a school, hospital, and home health occupational therapist for more than 30 years. She has been named as a Top Business Woman in America and recognized for her work with youth, disability outreach and awareness, and the American Cancer Society.