Relay for Life worthwhile cause

By Clyde Davis: Columnist

Late April means at least two events that hold significance in my life. I hope that these are also of importance to you.

The first is, by now, you should have paid your federal and state income taxes, or have filed for an extension. If you haven’t, perhaps you should put down the Sunday paper, pour another cup of strong coffee and figure out how to bail yourself out of this potential mess, starting with contacting the IRS.

The second event, far more positive in nature, is the Clovis Relay for Life. You will probably become familiar, over the next few weeks, with all of the concretes — location, time, etc. What I would like to do today is offer a personal perspective: Why is this event important?

To me it is important because it is one of many ways in which we keep cancer, or rather the increasingly successful efforts to find a cure, in front of people’s field of vision. Six years ago, I participated for the first time in Relay for Life as a disinterested “caring person.”
After that, it was personal.

I remember the first Relay I attended as a survivor: 2002. I was unable to walk —not because of cancer issues, but an ironic back injury. I sat in our van and watched my friend, Gary Flintom, and his band Staney do their sets. Sadly, Gary is one of the people in whose memory I walk — RIP, 2005.

That brings up an incidental — the music, the food, the entertainment. Yes, there is the memorial service and the honoring of those who are winning the fight, but there is also a fine party atmosphere to the Clovis Relay. In other words, you can go because it’s fun. Go as a group, see how many friends you run into, or make new friends.

2002 was also the first year my stepdaughter, Amanda, wore holes in her soles going door to door and collecting for Relay for Life. Each year, she raises between $500 and more than $1000, beginning her collecting in March, usually.

Pay attention to what is happening between now and May 4 and 5. Some groups are selling raffle tickets. Some groups are holding dinners and bake sales. Some groups are organizing prize drawings. Almost daily, I get e-mails from the American Cancer Society director about what some particular group is doing to strengthen its donations.

You may not know Bert, Pete, Brenda or Ruth. I do; they are people with whom I talk via e-mail on the esophageal cancer chatroom. They are real people, with diverse backgrounds and differing prognoses, but we are all bound by that common thread — one particular type of cancer.

This brings my final point, which is education.

My first possible clue I might have a problem came from Relay 2001, at the education booth, when I read a pamphlet asking if one was having difficulty swallowing. If you do nothing else, stop by Relay for the educational and self-assessment booth. It could save your life.

In the six years cancer has been personal for me, I have seen a lot of progress. We can, by working together, continue to move forward.
Join the march.