“You have cancer.” Three words you never want you or your loved ones to hear.
Cancer will soon surpass heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. By 2030, there will be more than 13 million deaths from cancer. One in three people will contract cancer, and one in four will die from the disease. One of those four was my grandfather.
My grandfather was a kind-hearted, faith-driven, humble man. He worked until he was 86, right up until his last few months. One and a half years later, it still catches me off guard when I walk into the office and he isn’t there.
Living in Athens, I was removed from the situation. I still talked to him on the phone and visited him when I was home, but I never saw him struggle on a day to day basis. None of us did. Because he never complained. Not one time. He was the most optimistic person I will ever know.
We tried everything. Every clinical trial, different types of chemo, every doctor we could find—both in and out of town. My dad spent countless hours researching treatment options, taking my grandfather to doctor visits, and making sure he had all the right medications. I couldn’t do that. I wasn’t home. I was in Athens. So I chose to get involved with UGA Relay For Life.
I remember my first Relay executive board applicant meeting. I remember because that was the night I got the call. It was time to come home. I rushed back to my apartment, threw some things in the car, and sped home in just over 2 hours. By the time I got there it was 11 pm. Five hours later my grandfather took his last staggering breath, only to gain a whole new body in Heaven-free of cancer, free of pain, free of suffering.
For a day where he will be there to see her graduate college, watch her walk down the aisle at her wedding, and work alongside her should she choose to join the family business he built. I Relay for everyone I know because cancer does not discriminate—it isn’t partial to a specific race or gender, it doesn’t care how healthy you are, and it doesn’t give up. I Relay for you because tomorrow it could be your uncle, your sister, or your grandfather. Cancer is in it for the long-haul and that’s why we have to be too.
Last year, UGA Relay For Life raised over $237,000. This money went to funding cancer research, maintaining a 24-hour American Cancer Society hotline, and supporting countless patient help programs like Look Good Feel Better, Road To Recovery, and Hope Lodges around the country. For me UGA Relay is more than just a campus organization, it’s a second family.
If you or someone you know is battling cancer, I encourage you to visit the American Cancer Society website (cancer.org) or call their 24-hour hotline at 1-800-ACS-2345. If you’re interested in joining UGA Relay or attending our event on April 15th, 2016 please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at ugarelay.org. We Relay to finish the fight against cancer and we would love for you to join us.
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Winner: 2009 National Health Information Award, Gold; Finalist: 2010 National Indie Excellence Award, Health & Well-being