Relay reflective of cancer journey

I recently took part in the Cancer Council's Port Lincoln 2018 Relay for Life. 

I spent days outside supermarkets, selling raffle tickets, which seemed a step above just seeking donations (begging).

I was amused by the tactics of those who didn't want to participate - don't look, avoid eye contact, attention required elsewhere.

I have to confess I have used some of these myself. 

But those who gave me a cheerful greeting, lifted my spirit.

Thank you for that and sincere thanks to all who purchased tickets or made donations. 

Graham Mantle

Graham Mantle

And then the Relay itself - I had no idea, really, what that was all about. 

Why was it deemed necessary to carry a baton and walk around a circuit for 19 hours while events, games and competitions were happening at the same time within the circuit?

I came to realise that the baton represented the disease, the cancer which, as a victim or as a carer, you could neither put aside nor ignore. It demanded your attention relentlessly and without mercy.

And meanwhile, normal life went on all around you and from which you became excluded. 

For those who walked, there was a team behind us.

There was always someone to take the baton when the going got too much.

By the end of the 19 hours, we knew a little about tiredness, resolve and exhaustion.

We knew the value of team support. We knew something of the blessing of relief for a while. 

And as I walked, I thought about my son who fought a losing battle with cancer and whether I could have provided any kind of brief relief for him.

And I thought about his incredible wife and the days and weeks and months of caring that she undertook and I wondered whether I could have taken her baton for an hour or a day. 

Such was the meaning of the Relay for Life for me.