13 July 2010

Relay for Life? Or Celebrate Life?

After I went into remission, a very urgent need came to be that I needed to do something about the cancer experience. The core of my belief system is that everything happens for a reason. And, cancer is a big THING! I cannot let the experience or the lesson go to waste. All of that must be put into something good. I had great intentions. I was going to make a difference for those touched by cancer! Although, I was wisely counseled by my boyfriend and my brother that I should probably take things in stride and put it in first gear and take some time to heal and regroup, before any major undertaking. Well, of course it turned out that it was wise advice. I had just about enough energy to go to work daily and maintain the rhythm of the once-interrupted life. It takes time to put things back together, I suppose. Life certainly did not stop or slow down, just because I had to. So, it turned out that it was the best advice.

And now, I finally have my bearings. So, I took some time to research how I could get involved and give back. There are a lot of choices. But, in the end, I chose The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, in keeping with my former post and a belief that we are all in this together. Yes. There are different kinds of cancer, including mine. But, I wanted to support the organization that helps all cancer. And the American Cancer Society was the best choice for this. I also liked Relay for Life because of its communal character -- camping for 24 hours with your "team," amongst other teams.

So, this was quite an an important decision for me. It was sort of a "coming out" to my community at large -- many of whom did not know I was sick at all. It was also a chance for me to involve my friends and family with cancer, at last! I had my reservations and trepidations about all of this. But I was done keeping my cancer under a bushel. It was time to share. I've had a year to have to almost all to myself. But, the world doesn't benefit from that. Does it? Only in my "coming out" and sharing the experience with others will it do anyone else any good. Time to get over my introvertedness and time to let go! I was not doing anyone any good by keeping all of this under wraps.
Still and all, it took about a couple of weeks of clicking on Relay for Life's website to read up on what it involved to be a Team Captain and to raise funds as well as organize a team for the event. I had to talk myself into committing to it -- being a team captain and assembling a team for the event, with the help of my friends and community of course. And what a "coming out" party it was going to be! We were going to "camp" for 24 hours while raising money for the cause. Brilliant!

Last night, as I put the final touches in the Evite for Relay for Life, I got a phone call from one of my very good friends to discuss another very good friend's bridal shower/bachelorette party. The date and venue was set. All I needed to do was post my response to the event's Evite. Done! Am there with bells on and all that. Of course!

BUT. . . (you guessed it!)

The aforementioned shower/bachelorette party is the same day as Relay for Life! (May I just say that I was mildly annoyed and discouraged? After all that thought and self-prodding to finally do something AND involve everyone else, someone had the nerve to get married!)

Momentary quandary: Should I go through with the commitment to myself and the powers that be to do Relay for Life? Or, should I be a good friend and attend said bridal shower/bachelorette party? Herein lies the rub: The very community that I wanted to finally open up to and involve in my cancer journey will be a the bridal shower. So, really, in the larger (or smaller) scheme of things, what was more important?

Yes. I had (definitely) grand and (perhaps) honorable intentions in doing Relay for Life with my community of friends and family. But really, do gestures of gratitude or reason have to be that grand in order to count? Or, is being there for a good friend during a very important occasion of her life, as grand as being at Relay for Life? Here, the old adage rings true. Charity begins at home. In this instance, I didn't have to make a big splash to make a difference. I am blessed to be alive to share in this wonderful time of her life. There are currently over 200 teams registered to participate in my city's Relay for Life. But my girlfriend only has only a few of us with whom to celebrate her impending marriage.

There wasn't a quandary after all.

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