By Polly Keary, Editor
One of the most powerful and moving events during Monroe’s annual Relay For Life is the Survivor Lap, when purple shirt-clad cancer survivors walk once around the quarter-mile track on which the 24-hour relay is held.
For the survivors who participate, it is an uplifting experience, said survivor Marie Bach, this year’s Relay For Life survivorship chair. So this year, she is reaching out to survivors in hopes of attracting more of them to the event.
“Upbeat music blasting; people cheering you all the way around; all of us wearing our Survivor Medals; it is an incredible experience,” she said.
Bach took her first lap in 2012 as a survivor.
She had already been involved in fundraising to fight cancer, but Relay For Life was new to her.
“I went to my first Relay after being asked to host a karaoke fundraiser for a friend’s team,” she said. “I had heard of the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life, but had no idea what they really did. I used to sing (semi-pro), and I host a karaoke show once a week, but that first Survivor Lap around the track, I felt like a rock star.”
So last year, she deepened her involvement, organizing a team. Relay teams collect pledges from supporters, and for one 24-hour period, at all times the team has at least one member on the track.
It is a colorful event, with teams pitching tents at the track and often dressing in costume, sometimes in keeping with the year’s theme.
“The theme for Survivors 2013 was ‘We Are Hope,’ and for those fighting cancer, seeing 200 survivors out there walking is hope,” said Bach. “I have two friends who are in this awful battle right now; how could I not get involved? So we got a team together, and raised some money and met a bunch of wonderful people.”
This year Bach wanted to enlarge her role yet more, and took on the position of Survivorship Chair, meaning she is coordinating survivor events.
Her own battle with cancer was long ago, and she was fortunate in that the treatment wasn’t as onerous as that experienced by some, she said.
“I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1984,” she said. “I consider myself fortunate in that, after having a hysterectomy, my doctors said I did not need radiation or chemo. So many people who have heard those words, ‘You have cancer,’ are not so lucky.”
It is thanks in good part to research by the American Cancer Society that today cervical cancer is largely preventable with a vaccine.
So helping raise funds for that organization through Relay For Life makes sense, she said.
“Now, I ‘Relay’ so that someday, we can all just go get a ‘cancer shot’ and not have to worry about those three terrible words,” Bach said.
This year’s national theme is “Finish the Fight,” and the Sky Valley Relay For Life theme is “Kickin’ Cancer, Country Style.”
Survivors are invited to come to the event opening May 31 at the Monroe High School field to walk the track with other survivors, then attend a luncheon and receive a gift bag.
There will be a Survivor Sign-Up on March 15 at Alfy’s Pizza, 19121 Highway 2 in Monroe, from 2 – 4 p.m. Enjoy a slice of pizza and a soda while supplies last.
If you can’t make the sign up at Alfy’s, you can email Bach at firstname.lastname@example.org, or register at American Cancer Society by visiting http://www.relayforlife.org/index, and entering Monroe WA.