If you would have told me I would be walking as a "Survivor" this year at our local Relay For Life event, I would have never believed you. But the fact of the matter is, I was diagnosed with cancer this past summer. Not only will I be attending the annual event once again, this year I am an honorary captain of a team called "Team Krzyz CUREsaders."
We all know someone who has been affected by cancer. Maybe a good friend. Maybe a family member. But you never expect that you yourself are going to be the one to get that devastating diagnosis. Cancer comes in all varieties, and discriminates against no one. My particular cancer, Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, is extremely rare. In fact, it is not recognized by the American Cancer Society as of yet.
You might ask why I would support such an event, when funds are not directed toward a cure for me and my specific cancer. The answer is simple. I seek to find a cure for all cancers, not just my own. I know the more "common" cancers are the ones that will most likely effect the people I love.
The mission of our local Relay For Life event is to save more lives and celebrate more birthdays! Funds raised for this event help thousands of people who hear the same words I did. From lodging and fuel costs, to research and information, the Relay For Life proves to be a successful and necessary staple in the movement to end cancer.
Relay is not just about walking laps. That part is optional, since most of the fund-raising is done prior to the event. Actually, I see it as more of a community party! A place where everyone, of any age, can come and enjoy a great time among familiar faces while supporting the fight.
Tents around the track offer unique themes and ways to donate funds. Relay teams host exciting things like face painting, bake sales, basket raffles, chicken barbecues, and everything in between! It is an entire day and evening celebrating those who are gone and those still fighting. You don't need a ticket to get in, and all are welcome!
I encourage you to visit www.relayforlife.org for more information. Think about registering for our Northern Chautauqua Relay to be held on June 14 at the SUNY Fredonia track.
You might even consider becoming a team captain like me, or joining an existing team. You can make a donation, or dedicate a luminary bag in honor of someone dear to you. It truly is a community event, supporting a great cause! I am proud to be part of it!
We hope to see you there!
Help us create more birthdays for those who battle now, and those who will in the future. For more information you can also email Mike Porpiglia, Relay coordinator for Northern Chautauqua County at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jill Krzyzanowicz is a lifetime Dunkirk resident and first-grade teacher at Dunkirk School 7.