Over the past three years you have all heard about how cancer has come into my life and changed pretty much everything about it. Between losing Anna, other classmates, and seeing people I love also lose their family and friends; cancer has left a permanent stamp on my life and bruise on my heart. Three years ago I learned what “the call” was, and then I got it, again and again. This year my “call” was different. This year instead of knowing the pain of someone you love having cancer firsthand, I got to know it all secondhand. This year instead of trying to convince myself that everything was going to be okay, I had to listen to my best friend lose faith and admit to me that he didn't think his mom was going to make it My best friend, and my rock, lost his mom to cancer and my hatred for this disease rose to heights I never thought it could. I didn’t know it was possible to feel someone else’s heart break until this year, but I also didn’t truly understand the importance of hope until this year. Today, while I would do anything to take away the first lesson, I know my life is better because I learned the second.
The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life has been a huge source of hope and strength for me since coming to college. My participation in it every year is typically the highlight of my semester and brings me so much joy. This year I had the huge honor of being elected to their executive planning committee. Not only do I get to experience the hope and joy of Relay For Life on the night of the event, but I also got to experience it all year round. I have had the chance to meet some of the most incredible people, those battling, those who’ve survived, and those who’ve lost. I used to think that hope was about wishing for the best, holding on to the promise of tomorrow. This year I learned that hope is more than that. It’s about not only holding on to the promise of tomorrow, but doing something today to make sure that tomorrow happens. With my new grasp on the concept of hope I was able to hold my best friend’s hand as he buried his mom. I was able to wipe his tears and still have faith in the fact that one day cancer won’t take so many lives. One day there really will be a world with less cancer, and more birthdays.
Today the number of people I know who lost their lives to cancer far exceeds the number of people I know who have survived it. Today I still miss Anna and my other loved ones. I still wear her bracelet and my heart still skips a beat when the clock flashes 12:12 or I hear her favorite song. Today I still have bad days where hope is hard to come by. Today cancer still sucks. But today I can finally see the bigger picture. Cancer may have taken my friends from this world, but there are still so many fighting and countless survivors. Cancer hasn't won, the hope and healing that the American Cancer Society provides every single day is proof of that. But the American Cancer Society can’t continue that hope and healing without the help of others. This year I will be participating in Relay For Life as a committee member and a team leader. I will walk in memory of all the angels in heaven that I am blessed to have watching over me. Please consider giving back to the American Cancer Society in any way you can, whether that be a prayer for those we’ve lost and those still fighting, or a contribution to my fundraising goal. Together with the American Cancer Society we can hold on to the hope of a better tomorrow, and start working towards that today.