Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful for the HOOlidays!

Today we are thankful for our amazing executive committee and their family and friends! Whether you are healthy or fighting an illness, or know someone who is, be thankful for today and another day to spend with the people you love. Happy Thanksgiving from the Relay For Life Executive Committee at UVA!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Be A Quitter This Thanksgiving

Hi everyone! It’s lung cancer awareness month! As you all head home for Thanksgiving, take a second to learn about another November holiday I bet you didn’t know too much about.

This past Thursday (November 19th) was the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smoke Out - a day dedicated to encouraging people to quit smoking. The day was started by Arthur P Mullaney in Randolph, Massachusetts in 1970. He asked people to give up smoking for a day and donate the money they saved to a local school’s scholarship fund. Since then, the idea has grown into a nationwide event celebrated with rallies, parades, and quitting information.

Did you know?
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women and responsible for 28% of all cancer deaths in the US
- 1 in 5 US adults smoke cigarettes regularly.
- Compared to non-smokers, the risk of developing lung cancer is 23x higher in male smokers and 13x higher in female smokers.
- 1 in 3 cancer-related deaths is caused by smoking.

As you can see from these statistics, lung cancer is no joke. The good news is that quitting smoking does not have to be confined to just one day a year. The American Cancer Society offers a variety of resources to help people quit smoking including a guide to quitting and phone and web based support. Visit to learn more!

P.S. Thanksgiving is a great time to ask family members you don’t normally see for Relay donations. Everyone is in the giving spirit and will be more than willing to support your cause! Good luck and happy thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

More Memories

Relay for Life has been a significant part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have years worth of memories of going to the event in Winchester with my mom, dad, brother, and sister. Initially, in remembrance and celebration of my grandfather, and - as the years went by - for so many other family members and friends that have been impacted by this terrible disease.
My "Grand Jerry" was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer and lost his battle on April 25, 2003. Although his year-long battle was relatively short, the Grand Jerry with cancer was no different than the one I knew before. Shortly after his diagnosis, my parents told my siblings and me that he was very very sick, but I never fully grasped how ruthless and awful cancer was because he never let it dull his spirit. However, the day I heard my parents tell us that we could no longer sit on Grand Jerry's lap because he had become so weak was the first time it truly hit me what this disease was actually doing.

Macintosh HD:Users:emilysmith:Desktop:Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 3.22.52 PM.jpg
The winter before he passed away, we got a huge snowfall that had us out of school for an entire week. I will never forget sledding at his house that week. Despite being at one of the toughest points in his battle, he stayed outside with my brother and me for hours, hauling us back up the hill in his John Deere gator after every thrilling ride down the hill in his backyard. (Part of the reason why I dislike sledding to this day because I never understood why people would want to go down the hill just to have to walk back up it?)

Macintosh HD:Users:emilysmith:Desktop:IMG_8016.jpg

My Grand Jerry was one of my favorite people to spend time with as a child, and the nickname given to him was no coincidence. He left my siblings, cousins and I with so many wonderful memories - homemade milkshakes at his house, day trips to Jammin' Gym, and rides on his "gator" around the yard. He made these lasting memories with us so that cancer would not win. To this day, I still cherish the limited, but grand memories I was able to make with him. Although it may seem he eventually lost his battle, in my mind he truly won it in by the way he made an impact on our family.

I Relay so that time with loved ones is not cut short by this terrible disease. I believe that we have the potential to see a cure for cancer in my lifetime, and so by Relaying I hope to do my part in making this a reality. I also Relay in loving memory of my Uncle Bob, in celebration of my Grandma, and for the many other people in my life who have been impacted by this disease.

My grandfather was truly an amazing man and is the primary reason why I Relay. I Relay so that time with friends and family is not cut short by cancer. I Relay for more birthdays, more holidays, and all-in-all more memories together with the ones we love.

With RelayLove,

Publicity Committee

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Shoutout: Maria Mencini

Hey Relay friends/family! Take a hot sec to check out this week's amazing shoutout: Maria! And just in time for the Trifecta challenge! Be sure to check out her Relay page for more information or to make a donation and to look at this for more information on the challenge (after all, HOO doesn't love beating the Hokies and Dukes in some friendly competition?!) 

Hometown: Ashburn, VA
Year/Major: 4th Year, Commerce
Position on Relay: Team Recruitment Co-Chair
Why I Relay: For Scott Vivian, my best friend's dad,and so no one has to have a wonderful life cut short by cancer.
Why I’m Excited For Relay: I love seeing everyone come together and have an awesome experience at the main event in April. This year we really want to get as many people there as possible! On that note, this Monday through Wednesday we are doing a "Trifecta" recruitment challenge with JMU and Tech to see who can get the most new people registered - so sign up this week and help us win!!
Did you know: I studied abroad at Oxford 
Favorite Flavor of Ice Cream: Strawberry

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mission Monday...No-Shave November

Hello Relay friends! Happy Monday! It's officially November which means I mustache you a question. How much do you know about No-Shave November? Many of us have heard of the phenomenon before and perhaps a few of you guys have participated before.

It all begin in 2009 with a small town in Illinois and the Hill family. After having lost their father to colon cancer in 2007, they decided to find a creative way to make a difference in the fight against cancer. The original mindset was to create a celebration of hair. Many cancer patients lose their hair as a result of chemotherapy, so the family decided that instead of shaving or cutting their hair, they would let it go and donate the money saved from razors or hair appointments to a cancer organization. The first few years, it was tremendously successful which inspired the family to continue the growth. They launched the online campaign and began pairing with major cancer fundraising organizations, like the American Cancer Society. 

Now, millions of people sign up to take part every year. While fundraising and donations are still a major goal of the organization, they also have also expanded the focus to include a discussion as to why people are suddenly embracing the mustaches and beards.  And this is when the discussion of cancer can really take off. It's about spreading the word about ways to prevent cancer. About new treatments that have been discover. About current break through research. And most importantly, about how we have all been personally affected by it - a way to create a support system within an entire community. Although it primarily focuses on men's health and testicular cancer, it donates proceeds to organizations including St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital and American Cancer Society (to which they have donated over $1.4 million!)

So as the Hill family says, "We believe that together, anything is possible, and we'll get closer to eradicating cancer one whisker at a time!" So be brave, be bold, be hairy - and ask someone about their mustache! 

Happy No-Shave November!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

We Are Not Helpless

What happens when the strongest person you know suddenly gets hurt? What if there’s nothing you can do…no bully to yell at, no Band-Aid to stick on?  What if you suddenly have to become your rock’s rock?

Many people will tell you that I am obsessed with my mom.  Not even just my best friends...I’m pretty sure that anyone who has spent more than three hours with me could tell you that I love my mom more than any living or nonliving thing on this world.  Our relationship has long transcended the mother-daughter border and carefully made its way into best friendship.  This story, however, goes back to a time when she was more my mom in the traditional sense. Mom with a capital M.  Invincible, strong, untouchable. Or so I thought.

It all started on a day which was disguised by the regularity of 7th grade life in suburbia.  I was fully immersed in a world of the cool girl lunch table, middle school crushes with long hair and skater shoes, the advance dance company, my nerdy-but-awesome magnet school, and my beloved summer swim team.  My mom, the strongest and most constant presence in my life, sat me down to tell me that she had been diagnosed with a particularly invasive case of a rare gynecological cancer.  Everything changed.  I was suddenly forced to realize that my mom was not only mom with a capital M, but was a human being who could be threatened by the same forces as anyone else.  My mom, the glue that held my family, my life, and my world together, suddenly needed us to do the same for her.  

The worst part of my mom’s cancer was the fear that came with it.  Only several hundred cases of her type of cancer have been recorded in the world, and we could not find a doctor within driving distance who had treated it before.  My mom’s treatment plan became a two-fold journey of trying to get her better as doctors tried to learn more about the disease along the way.  The only thing they seemed to be sure of was the high likeliness of spreading and recurrence.  It was finally decided that the best way to treat my mom’s case was to surgically remove it...something that sounds not-so-fun and is even less fun than it sounds.  My mom underwent invasive surgery and a difficult recovery process.  My dad, my little sister, and I did what we could to help her feel happy and comfortable as she made her way back to health.  

Though it was a while ago, I still very much remember the strong waves of helplessness that came over me each time we brought my mom to a test, biopsy, or check-up.  I am a person who likes to be in control, and this inability to control the hurt that was affecting my mom, the best human in the world, was completely infuriating.  The world wanted me to go on with life - with the lunch table, with the boys, and the dancing, and the school work, and the swimming - while the person I looked up to most was suffering with something I could not fix.

After a more recent bout with Melanoma, my mom is now officially cancer-free.  And yet, as I have grown-up and more of these untouchable, invincible rocks in my life have been affected by cancer, this feeling of helplessness remains.  What could I do about my neighbor (but more like family member) Mrs. Judy being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer?  What could I say to my best friend as she laid teary-eyed in my bed explaining that her mom’s doctor had found a lump?

This helplessness is why I Relay.  Because you know what?  We aren’t helpless.  Relay For Life gives us a beautiful and effective way to bond with survivors, patients, and caregivers as we take steps each day toward finding a cure.  It gives us an opportunity to use the resources and networks we have to put money in the right hands and to make a real difference.  We, regular human beings - not doctors or researchers or experts, have the ability to be the catalysts for programs that research rare cancers like my mom’s and find a cure.  We have the ability to help people with cancer all over the world get support through programs such as the Hope Lodge which houses people undergoing treatment far from home, Road to Recovery which drives patients to treatments, Look Good...Feel Better which provides wigs for patients going through chemotherapy, and Reach to Recovery which helps patients seek support from survivors.  
What happens when the strongest person you know suddenly gets hurt?  You recognize the problem, and you fight back. In 2015, 1,658,370 new cases will be diagnosed in the US, and 589,430 people will die from cancer.
 It keeps happening, and I won’t stand for it. 
 I won’t sit down and let it happen.
 I refuse.
 I will fight back.   

With RelayLOVE,

Mission & Outreach Committee

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Spotlight Sunday: Xing Zhang

Hope everyone had a wonderful and ~spooky~ Halloween! And now it is another Sunday which means times to start all the work I should have done all weekend and told myself I wouldn't procrastinate on, yet I have found another date with Java Java and Organic Chemistry. 

However - my day has been brightened by my favorite Spotlight Sunday! Meet Xing, a 2nd year student on the team recruitment committee. Xing recently planned and conducted a bake sale which raised almost $500! What better way to fight cancer than with amazing baked goods? She's also now one of our top ranked fundraisers! So proud of you! Show your support by wishing her congrats & checking out her fundraising page here!

Name: Xing Zhang

Year: Second Year
Home Town: Warrenton, Virginia 
Why I Relay: When I first joined Relay for Life in high school, it was because of my grandma, whom passed away from cancer when I was younger. After my first event, after my first luminary ceremony, I relayed not only for my grandma, but for everyone I met and have yet to meet whom are affected by cancer. 
Why I’m Excited For Relay: My goal this year is to be a 12 hour walker and walk a marathon during the event. Since cancer never sleeps, we won't either :) 
Did you know: When I was in kindergarten, I fractured my arm from falling off of a refrigerator. 
Favorite Flavor of Ice Cream: All ice cream were created equal. I cannot state a single favorite flavor simply because it would be unfair to all the flavors that I also love oh so dearly. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fighting for a Fighter

On September 30th, 2006, I jumped out of bed, overflowing with joy, for my older brother’s bar mitzvah would take place that day. It would be a full day of togetherness with family and friends, and a really fun party later that night.

At that point in time, my mom had been fighting breast cancer for over 3 years. The cancer had metastasized to several parts of her body over the course of her battle. Even at the age of 11, I was aware that her sickness was not to be taken lightly.

What I didn’t know at the time was that Mom’s disease had reached its final stage by the time Jake’s bar mitzvah came around. What I didn’t know at the time was that Mom would pass away just six weeks later.

Aside from my young age, there was a very important reason behind my not realizing the late stage of Mom’s cancer on Jake’s bar mitzvah day. 

I vividly remember Mom on this day. I remember how she could not stop beaming with pride, not even for a second, at my brother during the 3-hour prayer services. I remember her excitedly mingling with every single guest (we had a LOT of guests) during the post-services brunch, and wanting to genuinely catch up with each and every one of them. I remember all of my friends and my brother’s friends running up to Mom and her giving them all her famous hugs, because Mom was so warm and made all of our friends feel like her own children. I remember how Mom danced the whole night at the party…I do not think she sat down for even 10 seconds.

This one bar mitzvah day is just a glimpse into the sunshine that Jill Albert was. She never let the physical or emotional affects of cancer keep her from shining with the greatest radiance and the most contagious smile. She never let the anger or sorrow that many cancer patients regularly feel keep her from having only the kindest of hearts. She never let her preoccupations with doctor appointments, chemotherapy, pills, and countless other treatment related responsibilities keep her from being as involved as she could be in her kids’ childhoods and her community.

As I get older, and the years pass, I miss Mom so much. But I also become increasingly in awe of her. I realize more and more every day just how much of a fighter this woman was during such a painful, steeply uphill battle. Even though cancer took her life, I don’t think cancer actually won. I think Mom’s liveliness in the midst of dying reflects a true victory.

I Relay because Mom was a fighter and to honor her memory, I must fight in any way I can. I can easily picture her running every Relay For Life 5K, leading a team in the Relay For Life flag football tournament, enthusiastically pulling that all-nighter at the big Relay For Life event in April. She’d be doing it all, without a doubt. So I do it for her.


Fundraising Committee
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...