Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Relay for Life

This past weekend I participated in Relay for Life. Relay for Life is done all across the country over various weekends in the summer, where teams of people gather and for 24 hours, they walk or run, raising money to fight cancer. It was fun. And inspirational. And during the Luminaria Ceremony, heartbreaking.

I met Jennifer Manullang years ago when I was doing Pampered Chef. She is so fun and funny and I feel really blessed that we've stayed in touch over the years. She's lucky because if I didn't live on the other side of town, I'd probably bug her. A lot. I just really adore her.

In 2009, she learned she had a tumor near her spine. Lymphoma. She blogged about the tumor, which was the size of a FREAKING ORANGE, HERE.

I saw her twice in 2010, both times because she came to my book signings. I was touched and honored she did that when she most likely wasn't feeling that great, as she was doing chemotherapy. I continued to watch for updates on-line, cheering for her as she fought hard to kick cancer's ass.

And kick its ass she did. I can remember crying tears of joy when I read it was official. Her cancer was in complete remission.

It came at a time when I was praying hard for my dear friend, Lisa. At that time, we didn't know her diagnosis. But things were getting worse. It would be a couple of weeks later before her diagnosis would come  - pancreatic cancer.

2011, as most of you know, has been a really sad year for me personally. Lisa lost her life to cancer on February 23rd, and in May, Bridget Zinn lost her battle as well.

When Jennifer asked me if I'd like to be a part of her relay for life team, I knew it was something I could do to honor my friends. First of all, I wanted to honor Jennifer and how hard she fought. She is now a survivor, and a shining light in this world and proof that cancer doesn't always win. And of course, I wanted to honor my friends who are no longer here. To say - I miss you and I will never forget you. And whenever I can, I will do what I can so we can find a cure for this terrible disease.

Jen did a complete recap of the day HERE. I'm snagging a couple of pictures (hope you don't mind, Jen!) in case you don't have time to click over. There was a Western theme going on this year, so Jen gave our team the name, The Hoe Downs. Or, you know, The Hoes for short. hahaha

Some of us hanging out in the Hoe Downs tent
the track lined with luminaria bags, most with names honoring those affected by cancer

I had told myself I wouldn't get emotional during the Luminaria Ceremony, but I quickly saw it was impossible not to. So many people remembering their friends and loved ones who lost their lives to this terrible disease. I found the bags I had decorated for Bridget and Lisa in the dark, although I hadn't found them earlier in the daylight hours, when I looked for them. It might sound strange, but it felt like Bridget and Lisa were there with me.

Anyway... thanks SO VERY MUCH to those of you who donated money for this worthwhile cause. The overall total for the North Clackamas Relay for Life was over $44,000. The Hoe-Downs brought in about $10,000 of that. All money that will go to cancer research.

If any of you have a chance to be involved in a Relay for Life event near you, I highly recommend it. It's an amazing thing - seeing all those people gather and give, give, give of their time and money.

Thank you, Jen, for letting me be a part of your team. Hoes for the win!!!

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