Sunday, July 22, 2012

Relay for Life

For those of you that read my blog, my best friend Jaime's (from The G.I.S.T. on Ryan Vrudney & family) husband was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called G.I.S.T. in April 2012.  His cancer is Stage 4, it is fast growing and there is no remission possible.  The daily chemo drugs he is taking are helping to slow down the growth of the tumors.

Jaime has a hard time 'sitting still' and not 'doing something' about cancer.  She can't fight his cancer for him, she can't make it go away, she can't just wait to see how the medicine helps him.  Who could?  So her way of helping, it to bring awareness to this rare cancer and hope for new treatments to be found, not only for Ryan, but anyone battling cancer.  What better way to channel all of this energy, anxiety and stress but to walk?

So, Relay for Life in we come!  Team Vrudney was formed, shirts were made by Ink It Up Screenprinting in Edinburg, donations were collected and excitement grew as we knew we were DOING something!

Friday, July 13 we arrived in Minerva.  Jaime, Ryan and their crew got their first with the help of their cousin Tracy.  They got the tent all set up and checked us in.  I was about 20 minutes behind them (Jaime runs on 'Vrudney time', lol, so she didn't get there as soon as she was hoping).  I arrived with all of the decorations and we were set.

Jaime & Ryan in front of TEAM VRUDNEY tent.  Each balloon also had a name on it for someone we were walking in honor of or in memory of.  Yellow is the color for soft tissue sarcoma, so we decorated in yellow :)
Each relay begins with an opening ceremony, a Survivor's Lap and a team lap.  Our relay also had a balloon launch to send HOPE TO THE HEAVENS.  Jaime and Ryan walked in the Survivor's Lap before we all walked as a team.

Then the walking began!  We had Jaime, Ryan and their five kiddos, one of her daughter's friend, cousin Tracy, Ryan's brother, sister-in-law and their two kiddos, myself, Jacob and three of his (and Jaime's oldest son) friends.  We were later joined by two veteran walkers and four more kiddos!  We walked and walked and walked until 10pm, racking up about 100 laps just in that short time.

Then the luminaries ceremony began.  Everyone stopped walking, the luminaries are lit up around the entire track, each one baring the name of someone who is fighting cancer or someone who has lost their battle with cancer. A beautiful sign saying "HOPE" was lit and those lights burned all night, lighting our way as we walked the rest of the night.

The remainder of the night (from 11am to 7am) was Jaime, myself, Jacob, Jaime's son Brycen and the boys' friend walking.  About midnight, cousin Todd showed up also.  We took shifts...adults walked the first 30 minutes of each hour and the boys walked the last 30 minutes.

Jaime and I walked and walked and walked and then walked some more.  We laughed our heads off to the stupidest stuff, talked about nothing in particular and had some deep conversation.  We danced to the DJ while we were walking.  I'm sure the boys were completely mortified at us, but hey, they will get over it right?  We were walking for a purpose but it was HARD!

Taken just after midnight, as we were trying to get our shifts in order
Reinforcements came about 7am...Ryan with their other 3 kiddos, cousin Tracy, her mom and aunt.  They helped us continue walking.  It was great!

Jaime, Jacob and myself racked up 20 miles each in our first Relay for Life.  Brycen walked 15 miles and their friend walked 24 miles!

Team Vrudney won for highest laps...297 laps completed.  That is just over 169 miles!!!!!

My first Relay for Life was a great experience.  It was inspiring, emotional and hard.  I was sore the entire day on Saturday when I got home and never got to go to sleep, even for a nap, until 9:30pm that night.  But, when I look at what those I know are going through when they face and fight their cancer, my little bit of soreness and lack of sleep in NOTHING in comparison.

I walked in honor of those brave family and friends that I know who have battled cancer and won- Cathy Mix, Colton Cook and Marty Hatcher- and I walked for those that are battling cancer now- Marty Hatcher and Ryan Vrudney.

Next year, we are walking again and I'm already looking forward to it!

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