By Clyde Davis
The best idea they may have ever come up with, in terms of effective fundraising, was probably the birthday theme.
By “they”, I mean the American Cancer Society, and the manner in which this theme conveys a positive message, rather than a negative one. Pushing the button of hope, by reminding us how many more men, women, and children survive cancer, is more effective in the long run.
It was formerly a declaration of doom, to be told one had cancer. It meant long and frequently ineffective and painful treatments, back in the middle part of the 20th Century.
Gradually, however, the light shines brighter and the odds increase, so that today, a cancer diagnosis does not need to mean a death sentence.
Who have you lost? Who, among your list of friends and family members, may not have passed away, but is a survivor now living a more or less normal life?
At Relay for Life, held this past weekend in Clovis, we walk in memory and in honor.
That subject leads us into the “Yes, it is personal.” realm.
One of my favorite movie lines of all times comes from one of the “Rocky” movies (which are not among my favorite movies). Dolph Lundgren, playing the Russian boxer facing Rocky, responds to the shouting of his country’s politicos : “ Beat him for Russia! Fight for the honor of Russia!”
Lundgren’s character says: “ I don’t fight for Russia. I fight for me.”
For many of us, that is what Relay is about.
My first several years as a cancer survivor, numerous luminaria were purchased in my honor. That number gradually decreased, until this point, 12 years after the battle, I kind of doubt that anyone will have purchased a luminaria. (This, for the uninitiated, refers to the custom of buying candles in honor or memory of survivors/lost loved ones.)
That’s OK. I don’t fight for Russia. I fight for me.
Relay 2002, I was too weak to get out of the van. That was actually not cancer related, it had to do with recovering from a blown disc in my neck, but the effect was the same.
But the cancer experience threw me into a mindset that, on a pretty much annual basis, has included walking, riding, or biking a long distance, or sometimes up a mountain, including Pike’s Peak, to raise money for some significant cause or purpose. Why? Because I can. That is a phrase spoken in gratitude, because 12 years ago I did not know that I ever again would.
Life and what you do with it becomes precious.
Clyde Davis is a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at Clovis High School. He can be contacted at: