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.

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

Popular Right Now

8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Let's Talk About Israel

As a reform Jew, I have had a lot of problems with the country of Israel and where I stand on supporting its existence versus supporting its government.


As a reform Jew, I have had a lot of problems with the country of Israel and where I stand on supporting its existence versus supporting its government. I know there is a need for a country for Jewish people to reside without fear of anti-semitism. Especially following the rise of it after the election of the Trump administration and following the shooting in Pittsburg. There have been many actions taken around the world that continue to prove my point that anti-semitism is on the rise and that there is a need for Israel as a home for the Jewish people. However, the actions taken by the Israeli government have made it truly difficult for me to support Israel with all of my being.

Some of my issues with the state of Israel lie within its treatment of Jews who are not Orthodox as well as people who are not Jewish at all. Since it follows international law that all people are allowed to follow there own religious beliefs and practices, it should follow that religious states allow for leniency underneath laws made surrounding religious beliefs. When it comes to Orthodox versus Reform and Conservative Jews, Israel has some laws that directly limit the rights and abilities of this population. For example, Orthodox Rabbis have exclusive rights to perform marriages in Israel.

Also, dual citizenship for Jews is limited to Orthodox Jews. This would mean that every single Jew who is not Orthodox or who did not convert under Orthodox law do not have rights to dual citizenship. Gay marriage is not legal in Israel yet also despite Tel Aviv has one of the biggest Pride Parades that occur each year. With all of these pieces coming together, I have had to come to terms with what it means to support a country whose leader does support me as a reform Jew and as a bisexual woman. My right to practice my chosen profession in Israel would not even be recognized due to the fact that not only am I reform but I am female. I would not be allowed to practice Rabbinic's in Israel.

Also, Israel has been committing atrocities during their recent conflict with Hamas and in their push to claim territory on the West Bank. The Settlements have been created through incentive programs that make it more fiscally reasonable to live there. Israeli citizens often move out there more for financial reasons. The conflicts with Hamas have caused countless civilian casualties on both sides. Both Hamas and the Israeli government have been committing acts of war and putting innocent lives in the way of their continued issue with each other.

Most of what I explained is barely scraping the tip of the iceberg that is Israel and its many conflicts, issues, and history. My issue with Israel rests within its government and the people in charge. The way Netanyahu has taken to leading the country is an embarrassment and a travesty. Watching these actions unfold over the last few years under Netanyahu have made me question my support of such a beautiful country.

Each government has its own issues. However, I have found a fine line between supporting Israel and her right to exist and not supporting her leaders. The people who run the country do not reflect the beliefs of the people and of the religion that the country represents. This must be emphasized as the line between disagreeing with Israel and disagreeing with Judaism altogether has been blurred.

Related Content

Facebook Comments