Relay for Life is an 18-hour journey providing the light of day and dark of night to parallel the physical effects, emotions and mental state of a cancer patient undergoing treatment. Relay for Life begins during the day, when the sun is shining bright and the excitement and energy is flowing through the community. The setting sun symbolizes the time when a patient is diagnosed with cancer. The day is getting darker, and this represents the cancer patient’s state of mind as he or she feels that life is on an unknown journey.
As the evening goes on it gets cooler and darker, just as the emotions of the cancer patient do. Around 1 a.m. to 2 a.m., relay participants have been walking for hours and may begin to feel tired and the desire to take a break or go home. This represents the time when a cancer patient starts treatment. It is at this time that many patients become exhausted, some sick, not wanting to go on, possibly wanting to give up.
Just as the cancer patient cannot give up on his or her treatment, relay participants push through this phase, showing unity with cancer patients around the world. By 4 a.m. to 5 a.m., relayers are truly exhausted, but the end is in sight, and they begin to believe they will make it to the morning celebration. This symbolizes the coming of the end of treatment for the cancer patient who is tired, but who has hope and motivation to push through until the end of treatment.
The sun rising represents the end of treatment for the cancer patient. They see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that life will go on. The morning light brings on a new day full of life and excitement for new beginnings for the cancer patient.
As a participant, you will feel the brightness of the morning and know that the end of the relay is close at hand. You will feel triumphant in the knowledge that you, one person, have made an impact in the fight against cancer. When you leave the relay, think of the cancer patient leaving his or her last treatment. Just as you are exhausted and weak, so is that person after treatment. But a new day has arrived, and we are continuing to take up the fight against cancer. Remember: There is no finish line until we find a cure.
The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Royal Palm Beach will take place Saturday, April 25 at 4 p.m. until Sunday, April 26 at 6 a.m. at Royal Palm Beach High School. The public is encouraged to attend. There are activities for kids, a survivor dinner, food for purchase and raffles with fantastic prizes. Cancer may have touched you or a loved one. Help us raise funds for cancer research so that we can find a cure for all cancers. To form a team, join a team or register as a survivor, visit http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLCY15FL?pg=entry&fr_id=63687.
Felicia Matula, Community Chair, Royal Palm Beach Relay for Life