Cel­e­brate, Re­mem­ber, Fight Back!

The Southwest Booster - - NEWS - ARLENEMCKE­NZIE

Cel­e­brate, Re­mem­ber, Fight Back...that is why we re­lay!

June 11 marked the 10th an­niver­sary of Re­lay for Life in Swift Cur­rent. As Cer­e­mony Chair of the Or­ga­niz­ing Com­mit­tee, it was im­por­tant to me to rec­og­nize these three com­po­nents in the cer­e­monies.

The ‘cel­e­brate’ part of re­lay was cap­tured in the Open­ing Cer­e­mony with the en­cour­ag­ing words of Yvonne Lavi­o­lette, sur­vivor, as she spoke of her jour­ney with ma­lig­nant melanoma skin cancer. The cel­e­bra­tion con­tin­ued as the sur­vivors gath­ered on the track for the first lap of the re­lay. For some, it was the first year wear­ing the un­fa­mil­iar yel­low shirt, but for many it was a cel­e­bra­tion of an­other year of kick­ing cancer’s butt. It is also a time to cel­e­brate with your team, those who sup­port you all year long.

I know for my team, Ar­lene’s An­gels – High on Life, it is a cel­e­bra­tion for us to put on our ‘hippie’ cloth­ing and meet at the track. When we leave, ex­hausted, in the morn­ing we prom­ise ‘next year...same time, same place. We will be back!’ As a sur­vivor, I take that hope and that prom­ise and tuck it in away in my jeans, and it keeps me go­ing un­til ‘next year’.

To re­mem­ber, we have a Lu­mi­nary Cer­e­mony at ap­prox­i­mately 10 p.m. The lu­mi­nar­ies on the track, are si­mul­ta­ne­ously lit, to hon­our those that are still fight­ing, and to re­mem­ber those that have fought hard and lost the battle. Their spir­its are with us as we ob­serve a minute of si­lence in the crisp, cool air, with only the glow of the lu­mi­nar­ies light­ing up the track. The si­lence is tra­di­tion­ally bro­ken by the sound of the bag­pipes play­ing Amaz­ing Grace, cour­tesy of the Green Braes Pipes and Drums. Fol­low­ing a few laps of re­mem­brance, Shirley Munro, Lu­mi­nary Chair ex­plained briefly the mean­ing of the Lu­mi­nary Cer­e­mony.

I was given the hon­our this year of read­ing a me­mo­rial tribute to Is­abelle Estabrooks, who lost her short battle with cancer on De­cem­ber 17, 2010. In the words of her sis­ter, Barb Golden, “though her time was short, she was strong, brave, and wise to the end. She was very loved, and ex­pe­ri­enced a peace­ful pass­ing with her fam­ily by her side.” This per­son­i­fies the ‘re­mem­ber’ part of re­lay, we re­mem­ber who is not present phys­i­cally at the track with us and we hon­our their mem­ory. Pa­trick Estabrooks, Is­abelle’s son, was our guest for the Lu­mi­nary Cer­e­mony this year. On be­half of his fam­ily, and as a tribute to his mother, Pa­trick coura­geously agreed to pay a mu­si­cal tribute to his mother. His strong, clear voice echoed around the track as he sang, “Re­mem­ber Me”. He ended his song, with the words “thanks mama”. I know his mother was smil­ing down on her son that evening, as his song touched us all.

Fight Back is the fi­nal cer­e­mony of the evening and takes place at ap­prox­i­mately mid­night. The cer­e­mony was started with a con­tro­ver­sial CCS video which re­ally por­trays the ‘fight back’ spirit, fu­eled by the anger of what cancer has taken away from those in the video. This year, Christine Ciona com­posed a story which read like a Dr. Seuss book. Christine’s writ­ing skills, per­fect in­to­na­tion and an­i­ma­tion made it a com­pelling tale to lis­ten to. The theme of the story was that we can choose to let cancer get the best of us, or we can choose to fight back. We are fight­ing back by liv­ing our lives be­ing present, be­ing hopeful, be­ing pos­i­tive. We can choose to live strong and let our light shine. The en­ergy Christine brings to the stage en­cour­ages all of us to ‘ keep on keep­ing on’.

Rox­ana Fryk­lund, the Unit Man­ager of the Cana­dian Cancer So­ci­ety in Swift Cur­rent con­sid­ered the evening a huge suc­cess and cred­ited the suc­cess of the evening to the Or­ga­niz­ing Com­mit­tee. She noted that the top five fund-rais­ing teams and the top five fundrais­ers and their to­tals were as fol­lows: Top Five teams 1. Rack Pack - $17,058. 2. Ar­lene’s An­gels - High on Life - $6,326.

3. Tough As Teal - $6,256.34. 4. I Care - $4,147.49. 5. All Night For Bees Fight - $3,137.93 Top Five Par­tic­i­pants 1. Shelby Budd - $4,190. 2. Ali­cia Siemens - $4,111.34.

3. Mary Tay­lor Keefe - $3,700. 4. Rod Ol­son - $2,420. 5. Jen­nifer Peree - $2,226.

Team mem­bers from Ar­lene’s An­gels - High on Life were among the in­di­vid­u­als fight­ing back against cancer at the Re­lay for Life in Swift Cur­rent on June 11.

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