This year the great Dianna Wycliffe and & Archer Mactavish are spearheading a campaign to gather as many photos of “Why I Relay” this season. You can see all of the wonderful work they have done to date on the Why I Relay page for the RFL of SL website! They have done an amazing job and have been very generous devoting many hours to helping volunteers shout why they relay…Contact them for your own picture!
Why I Relay
Every year I participate in the SL version of Relay for Life. It’s a journey for me; a time when I remember my time with cancer…what I went through and how I lived through it. In 2007, I was diagnosed with two types of thyroid cancer. Medulliary and Follicular Thyroid Carcinoma is the fancy name for it, but I call them my life changers. See, I had an 11 year battle to fight for a diagnosis. 11 years to get someone to listen to me that something was wrong with my body. Telling them that I had all these symptoms from weight gain to loss of hair meant something was wrong and not being listened to. 1999 started my battle and in 2010 it ended with a clearance from my doctor of all traces.
In 1999, the thyroid specialist from Utah said that I had “hot spots” and “nodules” but to save money and my thyroid they wanted to work with medicine. She said that the medicine would control the thyroid hormones and the growths…and she was right. She told me that the levels had to remain less than 1 and not to let any doctor take them up over a 1. Well in 2005, I was under the care of a new doctor who didn’t listen to me. She said that I was lazy. That I should just “get over it” and move on…she told me to “loose weight.” She took me off the medicine and within six months the nodules were growing back. I had trouble breathing because they were so big. I went back to her and told her something was wrong…she again told me that there was nothing wrong and all my bloodwork came back “normal.” Well, I don’t think it was normal for my hair to be falling out and for me to have a neck the size of a linebackers. So I waited…and waited… and in early 2007, the insurance kicked in and I started demanding to see a specialist, but I had to get a referral to one to start with so I threatened a lawsuit to be heard. By that time, she could “feel” the nodules and even see a few poking through my skin…so she finally listened and sent me to the specialist. I was given a biopsy and a week later, they told me over the phone that I had cancer and that I needed to go see a surgeon in John Huntsman Cancer Institute.
My doctor was Dr. Hunt. He was one of the best in that building and he took care of it all. I remember my mom breaking down in tears in the office and I started crying. My brother was there for the whole thing… I had two surgeries that year. My first. I never had a surgery before, so that was scary. And then I had radiation therapy which, even thought they said it wouldn’t happen, my hair fell out in clumps. I had to cut it really short. But then in January 10, 2010, I was given the best news ever! I was cancer free. No new growth or return of the thyroid tissue. My hair started to grow back. I still struggle with weakness and if I am not careful, I can get sick. My TSH has to remain a constant 1 or less. But I am Cancer free.
This is why I relay. I do it every year since joining Second Life. I live my journey again to remember. Not only what I went through, but what I know others have gone through. I honor those we lost. I honor those we still have. I honor myself too. It’s a journey of discovery every time I start a new season and then the weekend itself is an emotional roller coaster ride going from joy to sadness and then elation that I survived, but sadness that others I know didn’t…So look at the picture to the side of this post and see this is why I relay…
About the Gallery:
The gallery for this post is from April 7, the 2018 Relay for Life Kick off ceremony. I was one of the dancers on stage ringing in the new season. I have never done anything like that before, so it was an amazing feel and something that I will never forget.