June 2012. Johnson County Iowa Relay for Life. My first time participating. Reason to celebrate – I detected my cancer early. A whole group of local ‘bosom buddies’ and my husband all survivors, too. Friends and family, a community of love and support. I was invited to write and read a poem about caregivers (see Into the Light). So many to remember – among them my grandmother who died of colon cancer in 1979. So many fighting – seemed everywhere I turned my friends knew someone battling against the disease. I created a long list of people to whom I dedicated my relay experience.
Saturday, June 15th. This year’s Relay is mostly remembering. Remembering my friend, Barb Kamer. She lost her battle with breast cancer earlier this year (see What do you do?). She had started Team Hodge Podge for the 2013 Relay before spring had even rolled around. I joined the team of her friends and family and dedicated my Relay experience to her. At the track, my emotions lingered just under the surface…being alive amidst her loss was difficult. It was our shared experience with cancer that bonded us – and this very relay that deepened our friendship. She would want us celebrating and working like she did to make a difference in the fight against cancer…so we designed a festive campsite, complete with balloons and games and treats. We put on costumes and walked the track with smiles and laughs. The energy, the pink, the love…we were so easy for her to spot. She was there. Smiling. Her light shining in us all.Her message resounds: Live Each Day.