Friday, April 20, 2012

The Difference One Year Makes

I love the community that I live in.  In many ways, it feels like a little chunk of Middle Georgia was carved out, modernized it a bit, but somehow managed to keep the  important "Hometown Pride".  The community takes ownership of its' events and Relay for Life.

With great pride, I say that our "Relay for Life" event is a big deal.  The whole town turns out to show their support!  Schools, churches, businesses and civic groups all have their themed tables, as team members gather round the JCHS track to show their support for the American Cancer Society. The local newspaper even prints a special supplement for the newspaper!

As I prepare to attend this year's Relay for Life event this evening, things will be different.  I'm not going to watch my children or students perform.  I'm not going to support my school's team, see my friends, or entertain my children for a few hours.  Tonight, I'm attending my first "Relay for Life" as a survivor.  I will participate in the survivor's lap, with my family continuing to support me as the wonderful caregivers they have been.  There will be luminaries lit with my name on them.

RFL chains were sold at my school as a fundraiser.
This morning, as I took my children to the babysitter's before school, Griffen made a statement that had a profound impact on me.  As we passed the Relay for Life site, he said, "Mom, you know this year, you are a survivor!"  The past eight months have been a roller coaster ride that most can only imagine.  Since I heard those words, "you have cancer", I've been cut on, drained, poisoned, pumped full of steroids, burned to a crisp, and lost all of my hair.  There have been tears shed some days, and laughter heard on others...but I have always felt supported. Due to the lymph node involvement of my breast cancer, my oncologist can not tell me I'm cancer free.  There could be rouge cancer cells still floating around in my body, but I am choosing not to dwell upon that possibility (even though it's always lurking in the back of my mind).  Just as Griffen said, I am a survivor!

This evening, when my family attends Jones County's Relay for Life, it will be my first.  My first event as a cancer survivor. Oh, what a difference one year can make.  Just like last year, I will proudly wear my Jones County Relay for Life shirt, but I'll have something wig!