I started participating in the Relay for Life about 14 years ago in elementary school, when I joined my friend's team to support her mother, who was fighting breast cancer. We started our own team a few years later with tremendous support from the Sikh community.
In the years that passed I have had family and friends affected by cancer. While most survived, some lost their battle to cancer. I have come to realize how important this event is for me. The theme of the Relay for life is "Celebrate, Remember, Fight back," and that's exactly what I find myself doing each year when it comes time for the relay. I celebrate in the victories of the friends and family that have survived their cancer, and in the advancements in medical knowledge that allow us to treat more cancers, to offer more support to our cancer patients, and that allow us to have better screening recommendations and prevention measures. As a community, we come together and we remember those we have lost to cancer, and lastly, we fight back. We join together to fundraise for further advancements in our research, for more support for our cancer patients.
This last year I got the chance to learn more about the Canadian Cancer Society. Although I had volunteered for them in different capacities over the years, I don't think I had ever understood before how much they do for our communities. I learned about the broad aim of the organization which allows them to serve the population in multiple capacities: Education (if you go to their website, there is extensive information on cancer types and prevention and screening), Advocacy (they advocate for changes in policies around carcinogens like tobacco and have been successful in creating changes to laws like banning indoor tanning for youth under 18 in BC), Fundraising (they fundraise for cancer in events like Relay for Life), Research (they have funded some groundbreaking research), and Support Services (everything from transportation/accommodation to emotional supports). That's a lot of work for one organization! This is particularly important in a community like Prince George. In larger centers there may be other organizations that can offer these services, but in a community like Prince George it makes a huge difference that we have the Kordyban lodge where patients that are traveling from all around the north can stay while they have their treatments. Because if the CCS wasn't there- these services simply wouldn't be available.
So think about registering and attending the relay this year. Hope to see you there!