Why I Relay

Melissa Stagnaro

While talking about Chenango County Relay for Life earlier this week, The Evening Sun’s publisher, Dick Snyder, made an observation about how the number of people who walk in the event’s Survivor Lap – as well as the amount raised annually – has increased substantially over the years.

There is no denying the amazing growth and success of the event, but for me, it is bittersweet. For on one hand it is a sure sign of both the power of our community to pull together for an important cause and the strides made in medical research which have lead to new, more successful, less toxic treatments.

But at the same time, it is a reminder that with each passing year, this insidious disease touches and takes more lives.

I have seen this even in my own life. When I first became involved with Relay for Life, cancer was something that happened to someone else. Sure, I knew people who had been affected by it, but I lived in this comfortable bubble, naively believing that my inner circle of friends and family were immune. But all too soon that false security was shattered. Since then, cancer has crept closer and closer.

I have written about some of them, such as my friend and fellow Oxford graduate John Lobdell and my uncle, Richard Lopresti. There are others, too. More than I can count these days. Not every story, though, is mine to tell. Those who know me well know just how close to home cancer has hit in the last couple of years.

Then, of course, there is Sue Gosline. Less than a week has passed since our dear friend Suzie left us, and the loss is so fresh in my heart I can’t even think her name without crying. I spilled my heart, and so many tears, into my column about her today. I just can’t believe she’s gone.

But in the midst of my grief and all those tears, I’m reminded of that Survivor’s Lap and it sparks a glimmer of hope. Because cancer isn’t invincible. Those brave souls walking around that track, celebrating their victory over cancer, are living proof that this disease can be defeated.

I think, too, of my Aunt Donna, who battled lymphoma and won. My cousin Dawn, who is a living reminder of why early detection of breast cancer is so important. (Get those mammies, girls!) My cousin Richie, who survived leukemia. And my friend Kathie, who battled breast cancer long before I knew her. Each of them give me hope that cancer can be beaten. And I want to do all I can to help get us closer to finding a cure.

That is Why I Relay.

My favorite shirt from last year’s Relay for Life said, “Crush Cancer.” That’s what I want to do. I want to eradicate this horrible disease that causes so much pain, suffering and heartache.

Tomorrow, I’ll be participating in Chenango County’s Relay for Life, in honor of all those whose lives have been touched by cancer. I will walk with Suzie, John, Uncle Rich, Aunt Donna, Dawn, Richie, Kathie and so many more in my heart.

Each step and each dollar raised will take us that much closer to crushing cancer. Please join me in supporting this cause, which has hit so close to home for me and so many others. Together we can help find a cure for this horrible disease.

To donate now, visit my fundraising page.

To learn more about Chenango County Relay for Life, visit www.relayforlife.org/chenangocountyny.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.