Last Saturday, some friends and I volunteered at the Relay for Life hosted by the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS). This event was CCS’s largest fundraiser for cancer research, support services and provide information resources that can be accessed by anyone anywhere. For 12 hours, over 550 participants walk and ran around the Richmond Olympic Oval track, all the way until 6AM. You read correctly: 6AM.
The Relay had three main themes: Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back. We started the night off by celebrating the triumphs of cancer survivors, who wore bright yellow shirts that were as vibrant as their spirits. We cheered, we applauded, we smiled!
Seeing all those survivors, young and old, can really lift a person’s spirit… It really gives everyone – not just cancer patients – HOPE that cancer can be beaten.
Then, we remembered. During this time, we shut off the lights so that our Luminaries could glow in its absence. It was a beautiful, but sad sight. As a volunteer, I had to arrange all the paper bags decorated with dedications around the Oval track. I felt so sad. There’s no other word to describe it, except sad. For every bag that I set down around the track, that means another person had tragically lost his or her battle with cancer.
I also dedicated a Luminary… to my late aunt who passed away due to cancer… It breaks my heart to realize that anyone can have cancer. No matter how compassionate, honest, beautiful, intelligent, self-sacrificing a person is… It can still happen. And it did for my aunt.
It doesn’t matter how long ago she left, I will never forget. She is the greatest. Of all the adjectives I can think of, self-sacrificing definitely, without any doubt, describes my aunt. She would always always always put family first! I’d like to think that she really was the glue of the family… She would always try her best to resolve any arguments as soon as possible just so that we can all be happy again.
I can’t remember how I found out the news about my aunt’s condition… But I still, very vividly, remember how my parents found out. We were eating at Much & More Restaurant for dinner, and then my parents receive a phone call. My parents just start crying… I was young then, I didn’t know what was happening.
Whenever I visited my aunt, she would always have a positive attitude. She really didn’t want any of us to worry. I remember one time, when I was about to leave her home after visiting, she wanted to hand me a Ferroro Rocher chocolate. But I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t hold in my tears. I just couldn’t
When she passed, I found out by phone. Biu Sim, as I call her, told me, “Bak neung… heu jo ah…” I just couldn’t believe it. I really thought she would make it. She was strong and brave. But… I guess that’s life.
So that’s why I wanted to walk the Walk of Hope, where all the participants carry a candle and walk outside in the night. We take that time to remember, to remember how our loved ones were so brave in their battles. To remember that they did not give up for one single damn second. To remember that they gave it their all. And most importantly, to remember how important they were in our lives, and how they changed us forever.
The final hours of Relay were dedicated to FIGHTING BACK. Many participants continued to relay around the track. Seeing all those people walk and run… It was an inspiring sight. The energy never died at any point during that night.
This was an unforgettable experience. I can tell you now: I will be returning next year. Except next year, I hope to be actual participant walking that track. For anyone who reads this post, I hope that you’ll join the battle against cancer. It’s an ugly and merciless disease that must be wiped off from the face of the Earth. And my final words of this post will be what I truly feel…
FUCK YOU CANCER!