Friday, October 17, 2014
Friday, October 3, 2014
Thank you, Moira, for performing at Concert For A Cure as a member of the Sil'Hooettes! At the concert, she shared with the audience why Relay For Life was especially close to her heart. We thank you again for sharing your talent and reminding us all what we relay for.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
There have been several instances of cancer in my family, but nothing hit harder than when it was my mom’s turn to fight. One night during the spring of my senior year of high school, my mom complained about how uncomfortable her bra felt. I don’t think anyone really thought much about it and I know that I assumed it was simply too tight. After that night, she was still feeling uneasy about the whole thing, so she decided to go to the doctor. An irritating bra from a few days before led to a 3D mammogram. When that showed something, she then had to get three biopsies. Shortly after that, a conclusion was made: the uncomfortable bra corresponded to breast cancer, and someone pressed the fast forward button on our lives.
When I was first told the news, all I felt was shock and confusion. The pain and sadness didn’t hit me until I accompanied my mom to an appointment with her surgeon. That day may have been the worst day of my life.
I didn’t originally plan on going to the appointment with my mom, but my dad had to be at the office for a bit longer and I wanted to be there for her. After she got called back to see the doctor, things got hazy. Her surgeon was bursting with bad news: the cancer may be spreading, we needed to act quickly, she was going to have to do a full mastectomy, and there would never be a 100% guarantee that it wouldn’t come back. It was during this appointment that reality hit me straight in the face. Something was trying to kill my mom, and losing her was a real possibility. When I got home I sobbed for an hour straight, leaving my face, hair and pillow soaked.
After that day, it never really got easier, but it also never really got worse. June 26, 2014 was my mom’s birthday, but more importantly, her one-year anniversary of being cancer-free. Every night before she goes to bed, my mom does her hormone treatment that in effect, makes her body ache and is now causing some minor hair loss. Despite all of this, however, she has not backed down to cancer and the letter “f” necklace she wears every day is a reminder of that. The letter “f” on her necklace stands for many things: her maiden name (Flannery), her ability to get through cancer with great faith, family and friends, and the fact that, even with one breast, she is still as funny and fabulous as before. She will also continue to fight and, should the cancer ever come out of remission, tell it to f-off!
We live in a world where everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer and with that said, I relay for life. I relay for a world with more birthdays. I relay so that no one has to lose his or her mom to cancer like I almost did. I know the fight to end cancer is far from over, but I relay with the hope that we can get that much closer to living in a world free of cancer. I relay for my best friend, my number one supporter, my mom.
Friday, September 26, 2014
Let's give it up for the shout out of the week, Brian Leibowitz, who has raised the most money thus far AND already has a huge team with 19 members!! He's off to a great start and serves as an inspiration for all of us.
Learn more about Brian:
Support Brian and his quest to end cancer!
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
State of the Union: Relay Style
A message from the Presidents:
A message from the Presidents:
Today in Clark 148, Relay Exec Chairs came together to witness the counting of over
$5,000 brought in from the 2014 Concert For A Cure. Exciting upcoming events
were discussed, including Hops For Hope at Starr Hill Brewery and the upcoming
Fight Cancer 5K partnership with Pancakes For Parkinsons, also known as “Fight
But it is not just in the small meeting room of Clark 148 where the excitement of
Relay can be felt. It can be felt in the tummies of first years who participated in our
fall Vermonster challenge, it can be felt (and seen) on the Facebooks of our newly
accepted exec members who we are thrilled to have on board, it can be felt in the
classes and class councils of UVA who have their first ever catch all class teams and
finally it can be felt in the hearts and minds of the 125 participants and 41 teams
already signed up!!
It is you, our participants, team captains and exec members, who make our state of
the Union strong. In this last year, we had over 120 teams and 1,300 participants
come together to raise over $168,000 for the American Cancer Society. It was a year
of milestones, as Relay For Life at UVA surpassed the million-dollar mark for funds
raised for the ACS, was recognized by the renowned Z Society for its efforts, and was
named a TOP 15 COLLEGIATE RELAY EVENT WORLDWIDE! (Yes, you read it right
But, that was only the 2013-2014 year.
Ahead of us is the newer, bigger, better 2014-2015 year.
Relay For Life at UVA has set goals of 150 teams, 1,500 participants and $175,000.
But that is only the beginning, there is no limit to the money to be made, fun to
be had and .... More. One can only imagine what is in store. It will not be easy, but
together we will make it happen.
God bless you, God bless America and God bless Relay For Life at UVA.
[Please note: this State of the Union address should be read in the voice of HS
Football Player Apollos Hester of the East View Patriots*]
*Ref: And you better believe, "we're gonna fight."
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
If you couldn't make it to Concert For A Cure, here is a quick recap of what you missed...
And also wonderful performances from Virginia Belles, AVP, and Silhooettes! A huge thank you to these amazing a cappella groups for contributing their time and talent. The event was SOLD OUT and raised over $5,200!!!
A special thank you to everyone who came to the event to make it such a great success. Stay tuned for more upcoming events, including "Hops For Hope" at Starhill Brewery on September 27th from 11am to 8pm.
Friday, September 19, 2014
What better way to show your excitement for Relay For Life than to be the FIRST person to sign up for the event?? Way to go, Minh Bui, we are all very proud of you and happy to have your enthusiasm and drive on exec!
Sign up for Relay For Life at this link to get an early start, just like Minh!
Also, come out to Concert For A Cure TONIGHT at 8pm in McLeod to see all of UVA's amazing a cappella talent. Tickets on sale online AND at the door!
Thursday, April 10, 2014
On July 24th 2012, my life changed forever. I look back on that morning and remember what my biggest concern was: getting to my summer job on time. That all changed when my mother picked up the phone when my pediatrician called. I had just gotten some blood work done so I thought it must’ve been the results. The look on her face said it all, it immediately went to a look of seriousness that I had never seen before. Something was wrong with the blood results.
We were told to come home to North Jersey from the shore immediately to have more tests done. Once in the car, we were told to go directly to New York City to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. That’s when I knew whatever was going on was very serious. But I still hadn’t got any answers. It was only when I was sitting in an oncologists office with my parents that I fully realized what was wrong with me. Three little letters would change mine, and my family’s lives forever: CML, otherwise known as Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia.
Growing up, I had always been athletic. A successful high school track and field career led me to earn a spot on the University of Virginia’s track team. The summer of 2012 was after my first year on the team at UVA. Leading up to my diagnosis, I didn’t feel sick, the year before I had been competing in Division I track meets and working out daily. I thought the constant fatigue was from the tougher workouts and adjusting to a higher level of competition. But then the bruises came, and they stayed.
The day I was diagnosed with cancer, I was sporting a baseball size bruise on my hip that had been there for two months. Naturally I thought nothing of it; little did I know this was one of the only symptoms of my cancer that I ever experienced. In the weeks leading up to my diagnosis, the bruises were getting so bad my older brother, Tommy, kept badgering me to get a blood test to make sure everything was all right. That’s when everything spiraled out of my control.
Too put the numbers into perspective, on a normal, healthy person’s blood report, the white blood cell count is between 4 and 10, my pediatrician had never seen a white blood cell count higher than 50, when I was first diagnosed, my white blood cell count was 317, 30 times the normal amount. That’s why I was immediately called into the cancer center, and that’s why the doctors were shocked to see a 19 year old, “healthy looking” track runner sitting before them. 317 was dangerously high, so high that I spent 6 days in the cancer center while medicine brought my white count down to a safe level. Once I dipped under 100, I was allowed to leave. The picture below is the day I left the hospital.
CML is caused by a mutation in my chromosomes, which codes for the overproduction of abnormal, underdeveloped white blood cells in my blood and bone marrow. This type of cancer is slowly progressing, so slow that doctors said my white blood cell count had probably been growing for months to years without my knowledge. It is, however, easily managed with medicine. I was extremely lucky that I did not lose my hair, or have to undergo intense chemotherapy. Instead of intense IV chemo, I take oral chemotherapy pills everyday twice a day, since the day of my diagnosis. Since there is no permanent cure for CML, I will have to take the medicine for the foreseeable future. The meds keep the disease at bay and I’m able to live a normal life. Other than bone marrow and blood tests every couple of months, not many people can tell that I’m a cancer patient.
As of today, I’m in the last stage of remission, very close to having no trace of cancer in my blood or bone marrow. The year and a half in between diagnosis and remission was nowhere near easy. I found myself trying to adjust to so many new changes that I was getting overwhelmed easily. Some days were better than others. I remember asking a few times, the quintessential cancer question: why me? Why did this have to happen to me? Teens are often told at length that we all feel “invincible” during our young adult years; I was one of those people.
I never thought something of this magnitude would ever happen to me. But at the same time, I found myself asking another question: why not me? How did I get a form of cancer that is so easily treatable that on the surface I look like any other University student? While I’m able to interact with the rest of the world, sicker men, women, and children are fighting the fight from the confines of a hospital bed. They deserve the real credit, they’re the real warriors, carrying on through the pain and emotional stress, determined to get to the day when they can hear the words “cancer free.” To those people still fighting, I am in awe of your unending strength and perseverance through the darkest of times. You are the very essence of the human spirit and you inspire others around you to help end this terrible disease.
In the end, I believe that cancer has given me more than it has taken from me. It has given me a new perspective on life and the support of the people who surround me. To my family, friends, teammates, coaches, co-workers, doctors, and anyone who has given me kind words of support, I am eternally grateful. Your encouragement has made every day of my fight so much easier. I don’t think I take as many things for granted anymore, and everyday I’m reminded of how lucky I am.
Cancer has given me a first-hand experience, which I hope to use as fuel to get others involved in the fight. Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer and in my opinion that number is way too high. Thankfully, events such as Relay for Life exist, and people of all ages are able to get involved and raise not only money, but also awareness, support, and most importantly, hope. The fight to end cancer is far from over, but I am grateful that there are so many selfless individuals who take part in these events every year. The hope that one day we will all live in a world without cancer is why I relay, thank you to everyone taking part in this year’s event to help eradicate this disease. Together we can bring and end to cancer!