This is a phrase I have heard time and time again throughout my life. My family is one that has been directly affected by cancer in a variety of ways.
My grandmother, Wanda, passed away when I was nine, after battling ovarian cancer for years. I remember going to chemotherapy with her and playing with the puzzles in the lobby for what seemed like forever. I didn’t understand at the age of seven really what cancer was, or how hard she was fighting. I was one of two grandchildren she had, and her only granddaughter. To her, I was the apple of her eye. She always told my mom that she would stick around to help “raise that baby” in her typical Southern drawl. Finally, she stopped chemo when the doctors told her she was terminal and decided to spend her last years happy with her family, instead of fighting and feeling sick everyday.
My “Aunt Betty” is another woman who lost her battle to cancer a few years ago. I only had a few precious years to spend with her, but the effects that her passing had on my dad’s family was enormous. Betty Lou was the matriarch of the family, and was always the one that kept everyone in line with a smile on her face. Her children and grandchildren adored her, and to me, she was the grandma that I never got to have.
Lastly, my dad is a survivor. In the cancer world, we don’t ever say that someone is cured of cancer, simply because they aren’t. The fear of the disease returning is on everyone’s minds, and a chill runs up your spine at the thought of it. Dad has been in remission for a while now, after battling leukemia and receiving radiation, chemotherapy and finally a bone marrow transplant. In his room is a coat rack, of all of his hats he wore when his hair disappeared. My favorite one is a ball cap with a fake mullet on the back, and the cap reads “CANCER SUCKS”. He has several others, but that one is the one that accurately describes his personality.
Cancer affects everyone. Ovarian cancer, like my grandma had, is known to run in the family. The thought of getting cancer later in life is one that haunts us. However, we’ve been through a lot together. We are fighters and survivors. The ability to do Relay for Life is one way that we can fight together, no matter what type of cancer. “Cancer sucks”, but in doing Relay, we have a way to fight back just as hard.
-Gracen Daniel, '13 Scholar