Tonight, as honorary chair of the Baldwin County Relay for Life, one of the things I have to do is give a speech. I imagine I’ll end up going off script (this is scheduled to post right around the time I deliver it), but here is what I have prepared.
One humid afternoon in 2009, my father asked me to grab my camera and take some pictures of an event he had been working on. I knew it was some sort of fundraiser, but that was about it. But I went, took the pictures, and helped out where I could.
Fast forward a few years, and I got same request. Only this time it was from my wife, and I actually knew a little bit more about its purpose. Over the years, I had seen more and more people affected by this nightmare.
My childhood babysitter.
Friends from church.
Members of my extended family.
My mother in law.
On January 15th of this year, it became exceedingly personal for me when my doctor walked into the room and told me I had a condition called myelodysplastic syndrome… it’s cancer. He went on to tell me the treatment options, some facts about MDS, and a lot more information, but the rest of the conversation is a blur.
We went to leave the hospital and head home when my phone beeped. I don’t remember if we had even told anyone at this point. But the text that was showing on my screen read,
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee. Be not dismayed; for I AM THY GOD. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee.”
That was just the first of many messages I received over the next few days and weeks. People I had not heard from in years contacted me to lend their emotional support. Then it hit the next level. People I’d never met before would walk up to me in the parking lot and tell me they’d been praying for me. People started sending meals for when the day had been too long to feel like cooking. In short, I was reminded time and again that I am not in this alone. I, my wife, my family, and my friends have all been pulled closer through this. And I’ve made quite a new friends along the way.
Tonight, we have a celebration of big and small victories. We thank our caregivers. And we remember those who we have lost. But, most importantly to me, we survivors get to be reminded in a monumental way that we are not in this alone.