Steve and I traveled to East Hartford on Saturday for the United Technologies East Hartford Relay For Life. This is the second corporate Relay that UTC has hosted, sponsored and provided support in volunteers, location & overall support. We were able to attend last year’s event and take photos & attend the dinner for the survivors and caregivers. It was an amazing and beautiful celebration.
This year, I have been having a couple slow weeks, recovering from treatment and new side effects with Methatrexate that have just been making me so tired and unmotivated. I got the great news from Wendy last week that UTC Relay was above goal and raised more than $100K. Their team numbers are up and we were expecting a great weekend. Terry, Carson & Turner came to visit to go to a Motocross National Competition in Southwick, MA — so we headed to the UTC event in the morning as they traveled to the event.
First when we got there I brought Steve over to the Survivor Registration tent. It was with pride that I filled out the registration and got the huge smiles and congratulations from the volunteers. I got my first PURPLE tshirt with the word “survivor” on it. Steve said “we aren’t done with chemo yet”…. my reply “I lived another day….. I am a survivor” 🙂 And YOU are my Caregiver — the best one ever! I helped him on with his sash, and he helped me with mine. Pretty special moment, hard to explain the feeling but it was truly such an honor. Then at the Opening Ceremonies I do my usual with the camera, catching as many faces and emotions of the event as possible. 🙂 But now with my survivor sash — people were smiling at me with warmth and care. It was “different” than before, they were all connecting with me. If they were a survivor, caregiver and all those around because that is why they are here, to celebrate survivorship and to honor those they may have lost. It was amazing.
So we walked the “Lap” — I took photos of people SMILING – HAPPY – CELEBRATING! I took photos and walked on the outside to the front and then back on the outside on the other side of the track. People must have thought I was crazy with my fancy camera bouncing all around the lap! 🙂 It makes me laugh thinking about it. Watching Steve’s smile and love always fuels me, like I am not crazy, but just that I am me, and I continue to be me. The one thing that I noticed more than ever was the support of the caregivers around their survivor. The 2 girls in pink were so cute — they laughed and smiled — “SHE is my caregiver!” 🙂 It was all around you – the love and caring people have for eachother. And I can relate to them in my own way of being a cancer survivor, although all cancers and treatments are different, it is an experience that all these people have faced, and won, or are still fighting. It truly made me proud.
From the lap all the survivors and caregivers got on air conditioned transit buses and were driven to the top executive level where you can overlook the football field at Rentschler Field.
It was a beautiful setting with lots of windows. It was a catered yummy luncheon with strawberry shortcake for dessert. 🙂
The survivor speaker recently had moved to this area and was a friend of one of the committee members. She had participated in the Virginia Beach Relay (One of our top Relay events in the country!) and she was so excited to be invited because she wouldn’t miss a Relay. Her speech was short and sweet, poignant and clear. She is a SURVIVOR. She celebrates because SHE IS HERE. She fights because the gene she has for breast cancer could be passed down to her beautiful daughters and potentially her son’s children. I wish I could remember all her words, because it was so well said — and it meant so much to me. I don’t know if I hear all these words differently because I have cancer, or she was just so great (I think it is for BOTH reasons)— She encouraged us all to talk to eachother, share our stories, offer support and be strong. I have a great photo of her and her family below. Such a sweet woman and a great family. I felt truly blessed to hear her speak that day.