BY: RACHEL SMITH
Why does one do anything, really? Because you want to? Because you have to? Life is often a combination of both.
I’m going to take a moment and use this blog post to tell you about my why. About why I am the way I am and do the things I do. But mostly, about my decision to get involved with Relay For Life in Cerro Gordo County. It’s not a fun story, by any means. But it is a powerful one.
In June of 2010, my husband had been experiencing horrific headaches, so debilitating he could barely stand it. After a cat scan and an MRI, it was determined he had a tumor in his brain the size of a newborn baby’s head. It was news you never want to hear at any point in your life, but it was especially hard on us. We were young. We were healthy. We had an almost 2 year old and I was pregnant with our second child.
At a crucial moment in our lives we made a decision: to fight. After two surgeries, radiation and a round of chemo, he got the all clear. There was no sign of any tumor left in his brain.
For the next four years, his scans continued to be clear. Life became... just life! And we lived it the best we could.
But then in August of 2014, the doctors noticed a small spot had reappeared. Surgery, again, was the best option, and we were thankful they were able to remove the entire tumor. Except this one was different. While the first tumor had been a Stage 2 Astrocytoma, this new growth had morphed into something different. Something not as easy to get rid of. The new tumor was a mixture of Astrocytoma and Glioblastoma; the worst possible scenario.
Still, he continued to fight. To take the drugs, and have the scans and do everything he could possibly do.
And then, in June of 2016, that ugly tumor reared its head once again. Except this time, surgery was not an option.
The tumor had grown on his Basal Ganglia, a section deep within the brain that controls motor skills, motor learning, behavior and emotions.
He began a regiment of immuno-therapy, hoping to prolong his time left on Earth. Slowly, he began to lose motor skills on his left side. The seizures began and, eventually, I believe he suffered a small stroke.
Thanks to Hospice of North Iowa, he was able to be at home in his final weeks and days. While he had no functions on the left side of his body, he was generally still coherent and aware of his surroundings.
Lane passed away on January 10th, 2017. He was only 34.
It was at this time that life began to become clear for me. I had been in a fog for years. Uncertain of what would come next. Unsure of what I was supposed to do.
And then I met Colleen Snyder, who was the chair of the Cerro Gordo Relay For Life. And it just clicked. I was supposed to help others. I was supposed to hug those caretakers who are so exhausted and running on empty. I was supposed to smile and laugh and celebrate those in the fight who were winning. I was supposed to offer insight and words of wisdom to those who were scared.
I was supposed to help.
And so, I joined the committee, utilizing my writing skills and organization to help in any way possible.
I relay for Lane Smith. He was the brightest light in the whole world. He never once met a person who didn’t instantly love him. And I relay for my kids, who had to endure more than any kid should. I relay so they see that we don’t have to just give up. We don’t have to sit by and lose any more people we love.
We can fight, too.
Please join us on Friday, May 31st at Clear Lake City Park for our annual Relay For Life celebration. There will be food galore, games for kids, a climbing wall, a silent and live auction, and a free concert by the Whitesidewalls. The event runs from 5-10PM, with the concert beginning about 7 o’clock.
It will be a night of celebration for all those who have beaten this awful beast, and those who are currently in the ring, giving cancer the fight of their lives.
And for those who have lost a loved one, we’ll remember…
… this is our why!