Friday, July 25, 2008

Relay for Life

On July 26-27, 2008, my mom, brother, future sister-in-law, and family friend will all be walking in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, in Milwaukie Oregon as part of the Curves for the Cure Too team. Relay for Life raises money to fight cancer and raise awareness of cancer. It honors cancer survivors and remembers those who have lost their lives to cancer.

I don't think there is one person whose life hasn't been touched by cancer. My family has experienced the emotional and physical challenges with two members of our family having fought the battle. My grandma lost her fight after a long, hard battle when I was only 7 years old. My brother never got the opportunity to know her. My mom will be honoring her with a Luminaria candle.

But cancer hit me the hardest when my brother Matt was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at the young age of 8. I was 17 yrs old when he was diagnosed and it completely shook my world (as it did everyone in my family). When asked what the worst day of my life was, there is no question in my mind...I remember it vividly like it was yesterday. Shortly after finding out that his tumor was malignant, my brother was admitted to the hospital for testing. His tumor was in his throat and, since they couldn't start chemo until they finished testing, the tumor continued to grow until it nearly blocked Matt's airway. I will never forget one day toward the end of his stay shortly before they would begin chemo, my mom had gone down for coffee and I sat in the room alone on a counter. I was watching that little tiny boy with his "ET finger" on (the pulse-oximeter). In his sleep he would gasp for air, then hold his breath and I would just wait to hear him breathe out. That is probably the most scared I've ever been in my life. I truly thought I would lose my brother.

Now, when people ask me the best day of my life, I can also remember that day like it was yesterday. About 6 months after his chemo started, my brother's treatments were done. He had gone through the post-treatment testing and we were waiting to hear the results. My brother stayed with the next door neighbor after school and I would always come home after school, then go get my brother. This particular day, I went home and checked the answering machine. I'll never forget the voice of the doctor as she told how Matt was better, no sign of cancer anywhere! So when I went to pick Matt up at the neighbor's house, I was able to tell Matt that he was all better. Well, Matt is now a healthy 26-year old and has been clear of cancer for 18 years! His recovery was largely because of the new medicines, protocols and diagnostic techniques resulting from cancer research. If we had faced his Lymphoma 10 years earlier, he would not be here with us today.

Finally, my future sister-in-law I'm sure will be walking in honor of her dad, who lost his fight in the recent years. We all have family, friends, co-workers or acquaintances who are dealing with or have dealt with cancer in one way or another. There is so much work left to be done. The Relay for Life is a great way to participate physically and/or financially. All money raised is used to support research locally for all types of cancer and important patient oriented programs.

I am asking that you consider supporting this worthwhile cause. Either in prayer, by participating in a local Relay for Life, or by sponsoring one of my family members who is participating in this event this weekend. The donation is tax-deductible and can easily be made by clicking on the link provided above. Your contribution, large or small, will be greatly appreciated and benefit this very worthy cause.

If you would like to sponsor one of my family members participating in the event this weekend, please click on the link above before August 10, 2008 the click on one of the following names on team Curves for the Cure Too page and it will direct you to the individual sites where you can make your donation:
Ann Nodurft
Matt Arneson
Esther Duggan
Jeanne Lang

Thank you for your support.

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