Friday, May 6, 2011

Relay For Life 2011

Today was the annual Chesapeake Relay For Life!  Don't know what Relay For Life is?  Here is the blurb on their website for the question, "What is Relay For Life?"

"The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. At Relay, teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events up to 24 hours in length.
Relay began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Washington, ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since then, Relay has grown from a single man’s passion to fight cancer into the world’s largest movement to end the disease. Each year, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities in the United States, along with additional communities in 20 other countries, gather to take part in this global phenomenon and raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer. Thanks to Relay participants, the American Cancer Society continues to save lives."
This is Haley's 9th year doing the Relay For Life.  For us, it is a celebration of her survival.  She was diagnosed with Leukemia April 3, 2002.  She was a very, very sick 3 year old little girl that first grueling month of chemotherapy.  There were times I honestly wasn't sure she would make it.  We spent a lot of that time in the PICU and I will never forget the image of her swollen little face and bald head with that blank, lifeless look in her eyes when she was so sick.  But, she has always been a fighter, my Haley Bug.  She made it through that first month, and even though she had to learn to walk again from being in bed for so long, she did it!  She endured the rest of her 2 1/2 years of chemo with many more ups and downs, but the end result is, she is a SURVIVOR!  
Every year she walks the survivor lap with a huge smile on her face, waving to all the people standing there to clap for her and all the other survivors walking.  Every other year, we have walked with her.  This year, she was asked to walk behind the survivor banner, and being that she is 12 years old now, I asked her if she wanted to walk on her own this year.  She said yes, even if she was a little reticent about it.  Her cousin, Taylor, who is 13, ended up walking with her.  It was hard for me to let go and let her walk on her own, but my heart swelled with pride and just complete and utter thankfulness to God for choosing me to mother this special, special young lady and, of course, for her survival.  We walked the caregiver lap with her, Haley by my side, our arms around each other as I held her hand and I fought back the tears.  It is simply amazing how far we have come.  I am so thankful to have such a special event that we can truly reflect on that and be thankful.  Here are our pictures from the night!
Signing the 2011 survivor banner

Haley's signature ♥

Grubbin' at the survivor reception!

Mickey, Taylor and Haley in the big, pink give hope chair!

My beautiful Haley Bug

Haley doing the cupid shuffle

Haley and Aunt Tiffany

Me and my Haley Bug, my HERO!

Mike and I and our first baby!

Mickey and Haley ♥

Haley getting ready to walk the survivor lap

Walking the survivor lap - SO PROUD OF HER!

Haley and her Daddy

All the fun things about Relay For Life - so cute!
Another important aspect of the Relay For Life is the money it raises for the American Cancer Society.  The kind of cancer that Haley had would have been fatal 20 years ago.  Thanks to research into different types of treatment, when she was diagnosed, she had a 90% chance at being cured, which is now considered cured!  Without money to fund research to find treatments, no cancer would be cured.  There are still far too many people dying from cancer because we still need better treatments.  The money made at this event will help fund that fight, the fight against cancer!

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