By Dustin Randolph
On April 11, 2002, I came home to an unusually distraught and quiet house. I asked my mom what was going on, and she told me that she had been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. At the time, I was seven years old, so I thought the word cancer meant that she was going to die. What would I do without my mom? She had to go through a lumpectomy and aggressive chemotherapy and radiation. She started to lose her hair, and she began to lose the energy that she normally would have. I remember telling her how much I loved her bald head as I would rub it with my hands. This process went on for a while, and friends and family were so supportive by bringing us cooked dinners each night of the week and just always being there.
After all of these difficult things my mom had to go through, she was pronounced cancer free after one year! I was so happy when my mom told me that she was cancer free, because I did not want to lose her. After what she went through, she did not want other people to go through the same thing, so she decided to participate in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. Relay For Life is a 24-hour walk for the reason that cancer never sleeps, so why should we? Teams camp out around the track for the duration and participate in numerous activities. Three main heartfelt ceremonies that take place during the relay are the Survivor Lap, Luminaria Ceremony, and the Fight Back Ceremony. The Survivor Lap is when everyone honors the cancer survivors and cheers them on as they take the first lap of relay.
The Luminaria Ceremony usually takes place at 9PM. This ceremony is when everyone honors those who have fought or are currently fighting cancer. This is where the word, “HOPE” appears spelled out with candles lighting the bags in the stands. The Fight Back Ceremony takes place during the closing ceremony to show that cancer cannot beat us, we will fight back against it, and win! My entire family went together to our first San Fernando Valley Relay For Life in 2005. Ever since, I have spent each year participating and watching my mom take that survivor lap. I continue this tradition here at UCLA, where I serve on the Recruitment Committee for Colleges Against Cancer. Relay For Life brings people from all different backgrounds together for one cause—to fight cancer.