There are plenty of charitable organizations out there that support cancer research and awareness, but the one that I’ve chosen to support is American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. At Relay For Life events, communities across the globe come together to honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against a disease that has already taken too much. Relay For Life teams camp out overnight and take turns walking or running around a track or path at a local high school, park, or fairground. Events are up to 24 hours long, and because cancer never sleeps, each team is asked to have at least one participant on the track at all times. I formed a Relay team to make a difference in the progress of this horrible disease in the hopes that some day nobody and no family has to suffer (physically or emotionally) from cancer.
I Relay in memory of (too) many people, but first and foremost is my mom, Gladys Early, who we lost in 2004 after a short battle with lung cancer, at the age of 63. That same year, I lost my dad's brother, Michael Early, and in 2006 lung cancer “struck” our family again, when we lost my mom’s brother, Thomas Dyer. Although I have participated in my local Relay since 2004, I decided to start a team in early 2011. My team name is "EARLY" Detection is Key. When I registered my team in 2011, my husband's aunt, Louise Garrison, was battling a rare form of bladder cancer, and unfortunately has since lost her battle as well.
In addition to my personal family, this disease has also affected my "work family". I have worked for my “boss” for over 25 years, and she is definitely more of a friend than a boss to me. She has beaten a battle of her own and is a survivor as well. Unfortunately, though, within the last 12 years, she has lost her brother, her sister, two close brothers-in law, and her loving husband to this horrible disease. I greatly admire her strength.