‘I relay now not for one, but for many’

It was at the recently held Relay for Life Kickoff event in Wyalusing that I once again began to reflect on what brought me to sign up and whom I was walking for.

Gratitude brought me to the decision to Relay for Life — profound gratitude.

I wanted to express the depth of this thankfulness by doing something that mattered.

It was late in 2011 when I received the call – the call that resulted in these feelings. A loved one of mine had news. This person was free from cancer.

Barely able to walk across a room, I was saddened that I could not do what I wanted to do. Relaying for Life would have to wait. I needed to lose weight.

And while I am still in the earlier stages of my weight loss, needing to lose over 200 pounds when all is said and done, I have decided to proceed with fulfilling my goal.

The walking may not be pretty. I may need to take breaks from time to time. But finally, I have decided that this is the year to fulfill my goal. I will no longer put it off.

Time has passed since I received the news in 2011 that led to this decision. Sadly, in that time, cancer has returned to my loved one – twice.

I still feel gratitude for the care given to my loved one. However, this goal I have made has taken on new meaning. It has grown into a somber expression of both gratitude and sadness. It is an expression of the very real affects of cancer so many have to face each day all over the world.

Some are fortunate to overcome cancer quickly, for others, it takes longer. Sometimes that means diagnoses that return once, twice or even more. There are some that never overcome cancer. Those are the precious ones that we have lost from this life. And then there are those that are still fighting for their lives.

I relay now not for one, but for many.

After seeing a whiteboard at the Relay for Life Kickoff event held Saturday in Wyalusing with the question written on it, asking those that saw it who they walked for, I pondered the question.

It was a question I have thought about before, but once again, I took some time to think about those that I knew have been affected by cancer.

These are the ones for whom I Relay for Life.

Here are some of those, identified by first name only, for whom I walk in the Relay for Life in May in Vestal, N.Y. and in June in Wyalusing, Pa.:

Robert: Life for Robert has changed so much by the diagnosis of cancer, but his support by those that care has been tremendous.

Leo: Cancer has dealt him a heavy hand through which he continues to fight and hold on.

Laura: Despite having dealt with cancer twice since her twenties, her positive outlook on life has remained. Through it all, she has maintained an inspiring sense of humor.

Kris: Kris succumbed to lung cancer, which spread to her bone, her liver and her brain. Many years too soon she left behind a husband who deeply loved her.

David: David was very much loved by his family and his community. David left this life too soon because of colon cancer, before his daughters could grow up, before he could see them get married and before he could see his eventual grandchildren.

Mary: Mary suffered from breast cancer, which eventually took her from her husband and two sons.

Carol: Carol died of brain cancer. She was described as “a real trooper” having never complained about the things that she went through. She left behind a husband, a cat and friends that dearly miss her.

It is for these people, and so many more, not named here that I walk in the Relay for Life.

Who will you walk for?

To sign up for the Healthy Steps team participating in the Western Broome County Relay for Life to be held on May 16 at Sammon Field in Vestal, N.Y., contact the Relay for Life at: 2015 R.F.L. Western Broome (Healthy Steps), American Cancer Society, 13 Beech St., Johnson City, N.Y. 13790, call 1-800-227-2345, or visit http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?fr_id=67039&pg=team&team_id=1760982.

To sign up for the Healthy Steps team participating in the Wyalusing Relay for Life to be held on June 13 at Wyalusing High School, contact the Relay for Life at 2015 R.F.L. Wyalusing (Healthy Steps), American Cancer Society, 320 Bilmar Dr., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15205, call 1-800-227-2345, or visit http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?fr_id=66263&pg=team&team_id=1760983.

I welcome members of the public to come and join my team for either Relay for Life event or to make a donation to support the team’s fundraising goal. Let’s take up the fight against cancer together.

If you want to follow my weight-loss journey, read about it occasionally in my column, “Healthy steps” or you can watch my weight-loss journey unfold and show your support by liking the page https://www.facebook.com/GretchenGetFit on Facebook or following me on Twitter @GretchenGetFit. Contact the writer at gbalshuweit@thedailyreview.com.

Healthy steps is written by Gretchen Balshuweit, news editor and Health & Wellness page columnist for The Daily Review as she pursues her own journey to health and wellness in hopes of losing a total of 200-250 pounds of excess weight.