Five Star is honored to be sponsoring a team at this year’s Placer County Relay for Life race and fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. As a devoted friend and Medical Assistant (M.A.), Edward has experienced first-hand the impact and devastation Cancer can have on patients and their families. He was kind enough to share his story with our team, and we’re honored to support him as he participates in this amazing event!
“Why I participate in a Relay for Life Event” – Edward A. Keller
I was recently asked this question and I had to think for a bit. So here is my story about Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.
In 2014 I was asked to participate with a team from where I work. After being taken advantage of with a few others that will remain anonymous. I was finally coerced into getting involved and walking with a team for this event. I checked into it and to my surprise, I found that the American Cancer Society is involved in a lot of research into prevention and medication development for cancer. I work in an Oncology office as a medical assistant and I see cancer patients every day. I remember growing up and not knowing what cancer was. In fact, I didn’t hear the word cancer til I was almost a teenager. Back then you may have heard of it or even known somebody who knew somebody with cancer. Now, I am willing to bet that even you personally know somebody with cancer. A friend, a relative or even you. It has become a scary and non-discriminating disease with no scrutiny as to race, gender or even age.
Over the past 4 years, I have found out that the American Cancer Society helps patients in many different ways. They offer FREE advice with a 24 hour a day phone line with professionally trained people to answer your questions and give you direction as to where to turn and what may happen next. They offer one on one peer support with trained cancer survivors who know what you are going through. They offer lodging for family members who have to travel to cancer centers where their treatment requires them to be hospitalized for 1 or even 2 years. They offer rides to patients that have no way to get to their doctor appointments or treatments.
This Relay event is the only event for fundraising that I do any more. I have known them to give rides to patients to treatments, office visits and chemotherapy. I have known personally a patient that had one last wish, to see his parents’ grave with his family. The cemetery was only about a 4-hour drive but his income and personal situation would not allow him the finances or time to make his final with a reality. The American Cancer Society stepped in and gave him that wish. As a bonus, they brought his siblings to spend that special weekend with him and his family. This patient passed away with the treasure surrounding him, his family.
I have to talk about one in particular that I have grown very close with. This one is who I call my miracle lady. She is a beautiful younger woman that was the joy to her family and friends. She first met me with a beautiful head of hair that would make anybody jealous. Going through treatments she lost hair and her self-esteem. Through treatments and a bone marrow transplant, she was made a FULL RECOVERY and is now in TOTAL REMISSION. This woman now hikes and runs in 10K races every weekend it seems like! We have become closer and shared a special bond.
I also remember a man that was very active in riding bikes and traveling. Diagnosed with a bad cancer, he started a fight and ended up getting a few more years than what was expected. We were very close and my heart goes out to all, ALL, of my patients fighting this disease. His family and I agree that it was through this research that medication was developed to extend his life and he was able to enjoy a couple more birthdays with his family.
Some people think that I take this to extremes. I personally don’t think that I can be too extreme when it comes to fighting this horrible disease. SO, I fundraise for this as I know what it has done, what it can still do and where it is going to the future. I want to see a world where this is EXTERMINATED. I am very passionate about what I do. I figure that these people can’t put cancer aside to go on vacation, have a nice weekend for a BBQ or even go around people they love when their immune system is down. So I walk, I walk for the entire 24 hours in representation of them and what they are fighting for. I walk so that they will have HOPE. I walk so that they can see me out there showing my support for them.
My job is very hard and emotional. I am so grateful to be able to help those that come to see us. They become like family to me and it hurts to know that this is happening. However, the successes I see make it so worth my while. I know this is where God wants me to be and if I can make somebody smile for just a minute or two and forget why they came to my office, well, then I know I have accomplished something for that day.
IF you have never been to a Relay event, PLEASE, come join me for a lap or two as I walk this year for them. I have patients; family members, friends and even family members of patients come out and support me while I walk. I love life. I love seeing the successes that come directly from generous donations from people like you. Thank you.
Together, we can finish the fight!