Posted by: Jamie Stamm | February 15, 2008

Why I Relay

Valentine’s Day always makes me think of my late friend and colleague Stephanie Williams

Stephanie started working at the Herald shortly after I did, and we were just about the same age (I had about four months on her). Stephanie was a blast to work with. She was funny. She was outspoken. She was full of life. And she was absolutely beautiful.

Stephanie had a lot to offer the Herald and the larger world in general. But when we were in our mid-20s, Stephanie learned she had colon cancer. It was an up-and-down fight for Stephanie, and on Feb. 14, 2005, she lost her battle with cancer.

And the world lost a wonderful young woman.

That spring, we at the Herald took part in Relay for Life for the first time, in memory of Stephanie. We wore shirts emblazoned with her name and buttons with her picture on them (I still have my button in my jewelry box). There were several luminaries lit in her memory and several memories shared of the all-too-short time we had with her.

For those of you who have never taken part in Relay for Life, it is an amazing event. It is a time to celebrate those who have survived cancer (the survivors’ walk is truly emotional), remember those we have lost and fight back against this terrible disease. Proceeds go to the American Cancer Society to help in that fight.

In the less than three years since I first participated in Relay, cancer has touched my life and the lives of those around me numerous times. I was diagnosed with two spots of basal cell carcinoma and, after months of nagging him, I finally convinced my husband to have a spot on his leg examined. It turned out to be a melanoma, and he’s now missing a chunk of his inner thigh where doctors had to cut out his cancer. A friend of mine from high school died of pancreatic cancer in her late 20s, a friend’s father died of prostate cancer, my husband’s grandmother developed cancer of the tongue, another co-worker learned she has breast cancer and another friend’s mother began her battle against ovarian cancer (last year, my family and I took part in the Kernersville Relay for Life in her honor). Then, just a few weeks ago, my father-in-law, who fought off prostate cancer several years ago, learned that his illness has resurfaced.

This week, I received an e-mail about Relay for Life of Lee County, which will be held on May 16th this year, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Lee County Fairgrounds. Teams are now being formed, and team captains’ meetings are set for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 19, March 11 and April 15 at First Wesleyan Church on Beechtree Drive.

I would urge everyone to participate in Relay for Life. It’s fun, it’s educational and it’s for a wonderful cause. More information is available online at http://www.events.cancer.org/rflleecountync.

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