My name is Kim Carney. I have two boys: Joey, 13 and Sammy, 7. We live in Campbell. I am a single mom, not by choice but fate is not always kind. I lost my husband to leukemia four months after Sammy was born. My own personal journey with breast cancer began only 18 months after that. So you see, it is not surprising, that my hobby, my passion, and honestly a bit of obsession is our local American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Campbell.
Why did my family choose the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life as our charity to fight back against cancer when there are so many good ones out there that are also trying to help? Well that is a bit of a story.
Three months after David passed away, I was driving down Campbell Avenue with Joey in the back seat. We passed the and saw all these tents and people at the track. We got stuck at the light and Joey looked over and said, “What is that?” I looked over and read the sign and said. “Oh, that’s the Relay For Life, they raise money for the American Cancer Society so they can help make sure that what happened to our family doesn’t happen to others. No one would lose their daddy to cancer like we did.” Joey was quiet through the next few lights. Any parent would know that this is an unusual occurrence with a six year old. Then he said very quietly. “Mom, we should do that. We should do that, Mom.”
Now I was overwhelmed when he said this and resorted to the old mom trick and put it off with a “Next year, honey.” And promptly forgot about it. Six months later, in January of the next year, Joey appeared at my elbow and said. “Mom, when are we making a team for the race?” Totally confused, I replied “What race?” and he looked at me with that ‘are you a stupid adult’ look and said “You know the race against cancer! So we can help save other families from losing their dads!” It dawned on me what he was talking about. It was the Relay for Life. I stared at him for a long moment and felt a bit ashamed. If my little boy remembered this event, remembered he wanted to start a team and why, what was wrong with me, the ADULT. We started our team that day.
What is Relay? Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s annual community fundraising event. Oh now there is a lot of words to scare people away. It really isn’t so scary. You create team made up of friends and family, co-workers, church groups, social groups, school groups, or businesses and they work together and individually to raise funds to fight back against cancer throughout the year. We have a huge event in July (next year it will fall on July 13). We celebrate Cancer Survivors with a ceremony and a brunch, entertain the participants and the community with local bands, activities and events and we provide snippets of education to the community on how you can prevent or fight back against cancer. At night there is a lovely Remembrance ceremony and we light candles all around the track in honor or memory of people we love who fought or are fighting cancer. The event is open for the community to come and walk and enjoy all that there is to offer.
This year’s event was last weekend on July 7th. You can . It was a great time, even with the sudden heat. We were out there along with the other 850 participants and survivors and together we have raised just about $200,000 towards the fight against cancer and we still have another six weeks to go until the end of this year’s Relay Season.
Why am I telling you about it now, after the event? Someone once told me that when you look back on your life, you remember ‘defining moments’ those memories that shaped you as a human being. That time in the car where a six year old simply told me that we should do something to make this world a better place; not for our family, but for others. That time that the 7 year old appeared at my side to remind me when I had forgotten about it. Those were defining moments for me.
Why should YOU care about fighting cancer? The disturbing fact is that two in three people will be directly affected by cancer either by becoming a caretaker to someone battling it or by battling it themselves. These odds are horrifying. I’m not trying to use scare tactics. David and I were the extreme two out of the three. I already look at my boys and pray that I can help lower these odds for them.
If you’d like to find out more about Relay For Life, please visit relayforlife.org. If you’d like more specific information about our local relay, or to have me be the little voice that whispers at your elbow reminding you about Relay in January, please send me an email to RFLCampbellfirstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to do so. To see what Campbell Relay is up to right now, please visit www.relayforlife.org/campbellca
I think all of us need to hear that little voice from the back seat saying “We should do that…we should do that.”
Out of the mouths of babes.