Kathy Ralph, 45, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2001 and after completing treatment, she was so moved by her experience that she chose to volunteer her time with the American Cancer Society at her local Relay For Life event in Memphis, Tennessee. Kathy believes strongly in the power of the Relay experience and from the very beginning, her family has been right by her side. Two years ago, Kathy lost her husband to congestive heart failure, but her children continue to join her to celebrate, remember, and fight back. Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Kathy and talk about her 10 years of fighting for less cancer and more birthdays by volunteering for the American Cancer Society (she is now a Relay team mentor!). She has a beautiful story to share:
What was your most memorable experience with the American Cancer Society Relay For Life?
My first year was the most memorable because we had a team made up of my son’s Cub Scout Troop and they did the flag ceremony, presenting the flags that stand for each person fighting the disease. They were still little and they were so excited to be a part of the Relay opening ceremonies.
What is your favorite part of the Relay experience?
Actually, I have 2 favorites. The Survivor Lap and the Luminary Ceremony. During the Survivor Lap (the lap that kicks off every Relay event to celebrate all the cancer survivors), I walk the first half by myself and have my kids join me for the second half. They surround me and we walk the rest of the way as a family. I also love the Luminary Ceremony where they turn out all the lights, light the candles in the luminaria bags, and then walk a lap to honor all the loved one’s we’ve lost to cancer. I think that is pretty special.
What advice would you give to others thinking of volunteering in the fight for more birthdays?
Just do it. Jump in with both feet and do what you can. It’s fun no matter what aspect you’re participating in. Even my kids are involved and they are having a blast.
If you could imagine your most awesome birthday what would that be?
Every birthday is special as long as my kids are with me.
What is the most meaningful birthday gift you have received?
My daughter drew a cancer ribbon with wings and both of my girls wrote poems to go with it about my cancer survival.
What helped pull you through your fight with cancer?
My family helped me pull through cancer. My husband was also sick at the time, but once we were able, we concentrated on what we could do for the kids. That is how we got through.
What do you think makes Relay For Life so powerful?
Relay For Life is so powerful because everybody reflects back on those they lost and those that have survived. It’s a night where we all thank God that we have each other and that we have Him and He will get us through it.
Do you have a Relay or volunteer story to share? Tell us in the comments below!Tags: american cancer society, more birthdays, relay for life, volunteer, What not to wear