I Am A Cancer Survivor And I Can't Rally For Relay For Life

I Am A Cancer Survivor And I Can't Rally For Relay For Life

No, I'm not against raising money for cancer research.
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Being diagnosed with cancer changed a lot of things in my life. It changed how I perceived things. It changed how I handled situations. It changed my outlook on certain things, perhaps making myself seem more jaded, or even cynical.

Maybe a little.

Last weekend, Virginia Tech had their annual Relay For Life Event, an entire event dedicated to bringing awareness to cancer research and funding. Survivors are applauded, philanthropy flows, and others tend to bring awareness through social media and attendance. While absent-mindedly scrolling through my Instagram, I stopped abruptly and glared at someone’s childhood photograph. This person changed their profile picture in order to raise awareness for Relay for Life, explaining that even though they had a happy and healthy childhood, others don’t. A wave of anger crashed into me; I couldn’t help but cringe. It’s not because they are making an honest attempt to be involved, but to hear the idea of someone assuming my childhood was ruined because of cancer hit a nerve. What the fuck do they know?

I cannot rally with Relay for Life. Sure, I believe in raising cancer awareness, like symptoms and screening. Sure, I believe in cancer research and funding (because we need it). It’s the public response, the “activism” of others, that I cannot support. I feel that this is like a “whose-dick-is-bigger” contest. Is it really about helping someone, or is it about who can raise the most, like this is some sort of competition. People spew long, floury social media posts about their experience with cancer, but for what?? Telling the story about your great-grandmother dying of cancer when you were 7 is not going to bring her back; it’s not going to help the Relay for Life cause, it’s not going to find a fucking cure. People use this as pity platform, seeing whose story can get the most likes, the most shares, the most “support”. It feels like a contest, not a rally, of who has the saddest story.

The “victory” lap for survivors is supposed to applaud their journey and acknowledge their heroism. Honestly, I feel uncomfortable with this, putting survivors on a pedestal. It’s like saying, “Sorry you almost died of cancer, but here’s some artificial empathy and one extra lap for everyone to stare at you”. Jeez, I didn’t know that this would make me feel understood! I don’t feel like a hero; I don’t want to be treated like a hero. Heroes make an impact in lives, they go out of their way to help others, they risk their lives for others, even strangers. That doesn’t reflect someone who is just fighting to save their own life, in doing what is perfectly natural for another human being to do in times of peril: fight.

That doesn’t make a hero. That doesn’t make me a hero.

Relay for Life can be important. Similar to the commercials for the St. Jude hospitals, where they portray little sad cancer kids, it isn’t necessary. It won’t make people more aware of cancer. It won’t make people give any more money. Filtering all this money for “awareness”, your ads and your rallies, aren’t helping the people dying; it’s not saving their lives.

I wish I was wrong, but this is the truth of the matter. People live and people die, one way or another. Nothing will change that, especially this “relay for life”.

Or maybe, I’m just cynical.

Cover Image Credit: Relay for Life VT Page

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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How Growing Up In A Culturally Diverse Environment Changed Me

We are all human.

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I can proudly say that I am from Montgomery County, Maryland, more specifically from the city of Gaithersburg. According to a 2018 study by WalletHub, three of the top 10 culturally diverse cities in the United States are located in Montgomery County. Those cities include Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Silver Spring.

I have lived in Montgomery County ever since the day I was born. Growing up in such a culturally and economically diverse area has educated me with the value of accepting differences. Since I was exposed to an assortment of cultures at such a young age, I hardly ever noticed differences among my peers and I. The everyday exposure to various cultures taught me to embrace diversity and look beyond appearances such as the color of someone's skin. I was able to open my eyes to other ideas, lifestyles, and backgrounds.

Ever since I was a child, I was not only taught to welcome different cultures and ethnic groups, but I was always surrounded by them. From my elementary to high school years, every classroom was filled with racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. Coming from someone apart of the Caucasian race, I was often the minority in school. Not everyone is as fortunate to experience such a multicultural society.

Since being from Montgomery County, I have grown up as a person with an open mind and strong values. Diversity has not only taught me to be more mindful but has also helped me become more of a respectful person. Learning about other cultures and backgrounds is essential to help societies strive, but experiencing it firsthand is something that no one can teach you.

After being in countless culturally diverse situations, I have been provided with many lifelong advantages. I was taught to be inclusive, fair, and understanding. I am able to be comfortable and accepting of all cultures and religions. After growing up in such a culturally diverse environment, I now develop culture shock when I'm not surrounded by diversity.

Our world is filled with numerous different kinds of cultures, ethnic groups, and religions. Being raised in a diverse environment has prepared me for what the real world looks like and taught me exactly what equality means. As I was growing up, I was always taught to be nonjudgemental of others and to embrace all individuals for who they are.

Diversity molds our identities. Every individual is unique, but each of us shares at least one trait — we are all human. Who would rather experience a homogeneous society, when they could constantly be learning about other cultures and building diverse relationships? When growing up, I never realized how impacted and truly thankful I would be to of had the opportunities to experience diversity each day. So here is a long overdue thank you to my parents for choosing to raise me in such an incredibly diverse place all of my life.

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