The Relay for Life (R4L) is the largest fundraising event for cancer support groups and cancer research in the world. From its’ humble beginnings in Tacoma, Washington in 1985 with one solitary participant, the R4L is now run annually in 21 countries, uniting over 600 different communities in the battle against cancer. In Australia, the R4L is held in every state and territory and raises over $18 million each year for the Cancer Council and in NSW alone, nearly 50 thousand people participate every year.
The R4L is an overnight team event. Each team takes part in the ‘relay’ where one member is walking or running on the track for the entire event. The event is full of fun activities and entertainment and focuses on celebrating life and giving hope to those currently fighting cancer. There is a survivors and carers walk and a candlelight ceremony to honour those who have passed away, finishing with a silent lap of the track in their memory.
Nurses 4 Nurses Ourimbah decided to enter a team in the 2012 Mingara Relay for Life, which took place on the 13th & 14th October. We had a small team with just 7 members; myself, Kahlee Jewell, Melissa Gillon, Amy Bickerton, Samantha Scheffer, Tracey Strong-Wilbe and Emma Maguire. Cancer has touched all of our lives. Two of our team members, Kahlee and Melissa, are sisters whose mother had lost her battle with cancer less than a month earlier. Tracey had just finished four weeks clinical placement on the oncology ward at Gosford hospital and had seen first-hand just how devastating this disease could be.
My inspiration for entering the relay was my mum, Jan, who is currently undergoing treatment for metastatic bowel cancer. Her strength and determination to endure chemotherapy in the hopes of spending as much time as possible with her daughters and grandchildren continually amazes me. I was so happy to have her and three of my aunties, one of whom had previously conquered breast cancer, come and take part in the Survivors and Carers walk with me.
We all had an emotional but fantastic evening. The candlelight ceremony was extremely moving and I don’t think there was a dry eye anywhere to be seen. We were visited during the event by other nursing students, including Meg Francies, Cassandra Ross & Joel Woodward, who came to show their support. Kahlee, Melissa and I represented the die-hard part of the N4N team, pitching our tents and staying overnight, and luckily only had some light rain during the evening.
Our N4N team members were very proud and happy to have raised $2048 for the Cancer Council. The combined total of all the 2012 Mingara Relay for Life teams was $383,388.45. Over the same weekend, there were 14 different Relays held across Australia, raising over $1.5 million!
The R4L truly is an inspirational and fun event. I highly recommend taking part in your local Relay – there are still more events across Australia for 2012 and registrations have already opened for 2013. It doesn’t matter how big or small your team is, together we all make a difference. For more information, check out the Cancer Council’s Relay for Life webpage at http://relay.cancercouncil.com.au