Relay for Life fellowship, fun for good cause

By Clyde Davis: Local columnist

It was the first time that I remember seeing my father cry. It is probable that he had been crying, off an on, for two years. It had been that long since my granddad had been diagnosed and treated surgically for esophageal cancer. However, this was the night Dad came home from the hospital and told my mom my granddad had died. It was the first time I remember being vaguely aware of cancer. It had taken one of my heroes, and caused the other one to cry. It was obviously a bad thing.

Many years later, 20 years later in fact, my favorite aunt spent two years as a progressive invalid before her form of cancer finally took her. By this time, I was far more aware of cancer and its implications. It was a death sentence. It took the people you love, slowly but surely. Oncology nurses, like my friend Pam, were people who helped you die as gracefully as possible.

How much has changed in the past 40 years! How much hope there is, that change in this area will continue! Needless to say, we will never completely eradicate disease — cancer or otherwise. However, we are moving ahead in large steps.

As I personally approach the five-year mark of my own surgery, I also want to remind you of the approaching Clovis Relay for Life.

The first weekend in May, mark it on your calendar, will be the Clovis Relay, held at Ned Houk Park. The Relay, as some of you know, will kick off at about 5 p.m. on Friday, May 4. Even if it is too late for you to formally get on a team, it is not too late to come out and enjoy the fellowship, the grub, the games and the atmosphere of hope that are part and parcel of the Relay experience.

Lumineria service. Public information booths and experiences. Games and food booths, set up by Relay teams to raise money. Entertainment, provided by many different types of entertainers. Your friends and neighbors, in a great outdoor setting, welcoming spring on the High Plains and believing that together we can beat cancer. Yep, reality is, we have come a long way since 1963.

If there is anything that binds us together as human beings, it is the awareness that someone we love has been affected by cancer. I am very grateful for the things that were done to me, surgically and chemically, to enable me to see this five-year anniversary and approach it with all hope and optimism.

There is a long way to go, but we are far beyond the stage where, like my friend Pam, the job of oncology is to help people die with grace. More and more, we speak truthfully of living with cancer, rather than dying from it.

So show up at Relay, have fun, get together with friends and support the American Cancer Society financially and emotionally. This one is for you, Grump, and for you both, Aunt Jane and Granddad. I love you all and will always miss you.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at: