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Ripple effect of cancer touches us all

By By Judy Pylate
I keep hearing rumblings of discontent whenever I mention anything about Relay of Life and the fact that the money doesn't stay in Atmore.
I have a precious first cousin who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 or 1993. A mid-30s mother of two growing boys with the promise of life to see them reared into fine young men. All of a sudden that perspective was changed for all of us. Yes, I do mean all of us, because just like ripples on a pond, the fear, anger and horror eventually reached all of her extended family. We watched with so much pain and sorrow as she accepted the diagnosis and resigned herself to an early death.
In a few weeks, she was sent to a Birmingham facility to have both breasts removed and a re-evaluation in a few weeks. Radiation and chemotherapy followed, and in a few months her hair fell out and she was bald as an eagle. She was given a wig with cancer research money from Relay for Life.
Life became normal again for the next three years. Even though she tried to function normally, the chemo and radiation had taken their toll. Her energy was sapped and she was unable to accomplish as much as she used to.
Then, on a check-up three years later, CANCER was found in the uterus. Once again the old fears flooded back and the family faced the same old nightmares as before. Another surgery, another round of chemo and radiation followed courtesy of the Birmingham Cancer Treatment Center.
If you have never watched someone you love go through this ordeal, you cannot begin to understand how it affects not only the victim but the family as well.
The doctors were persistent and I'm happy to report that after the second go around, she seems to be living in spite of cancer instead of dying with it. This is not the case many times.
I've never really thought about where my money goes after the Relay for Life, but I know one thing as certain as the sunrise each morning. If my efforts and my money can help to save one human being and give them another chance at life, I will be in there pitching until I can no longer pitch.
And, if the money goes to Birmingham, Houston or any other point north, south, east or west to help other families and change other lives, then I can be proud to have been a part of it all.