July 30, 2014 | Volume 101 / Number 31

Friday Night's Heroes

I read a quote last week that said "Heroes are remembered, legends never die."

Last Friday night I saw a lot of heroes. Some of them were bald, some had very short hair, some walked with canes but they were all heroes. They were the people who wore purple T-shirts with "I am Strength, I am hope, I am a survivor" printed on the back. They were cancer survivors walking the first two laps for Relay for Life.

They walked with heads held high and grateful hearts and a quiet courage. An inner strength and strong determination to win their fight helped them to be on that track.

But if you asked them if they were a hero, they would tell you they were simply people who fought a battle with a deadly enemy and won.

More heroes followed them – the caregivers. The people who helped those stricken with cancer. Who changed dressings, took those battling cancer to their doctor's appointments and sat with them through chemo and radiation treatments. The people who helped cancer patients by doing a myriad of tasks, whether it was to do laundry, cook meals, clean the house. Or to just be there when a person needed nothing more than someone to simply listen as they talked about their diagnosis, treatment, fears, worries.

And there were still more heroes. These heroes were folks who gave hours and hours to raising funds to fight cancer through research -- research to find the causes of cancer, research to develop new and more effective treatments.

Not to be forgotten under the title of heroes are the doctors and nurses and their unwavering care for people diagonsed with cancer.

All the folks listed above may not seem to be heroes but they are just that to cancer survivors.

It takes absolutely everything you have in you to battle cancer. Not only are you fighting cancer, you are fighting your fears, your worries, the uncertainties. You are focused on winning the hardest fight of your life. And then along comes a hero -- a husband or wife, son or daughter, sister or brother, a best friend or even someone you don't really know.

They are the ones who quietly go about supporting and helping you with hugs and words of encouragement and unending support. Sometimes, when you feel you are at your lowest, they are right there to stretch out their hand to you to help you get back up on your feet.

And their support doesn't end when you finish your treatments. They don't leave. They are always there. There to help you through the side effects of treatment -- through the long road to regain your strength and energy. These heroes stay with you -- day after day, month after month, year after year.

These heroes will not only be remembered, they will be legends to a survivor.

As a cancer survivor myself, I have been and continue to be surrounded by heroes for whom I am truly and eternally grateful.

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