The Relay For Life Connor Almstrom

The year 2015 was a pretty monumental one, it was my first year in middle school and making new friends but on a sadder note my grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer in early April. My first thought was, “What did she do to deserve this, especially after my grandpa had just died nine months before?” After letting this digest, I realized that I was powerless at this point. Our family was at the mercy of the doctors to help my grandma to beat this cancer.

My grandma stayed positive throughout her diagnosis and surgery. She never let us see the pain that she was actually experiencing day in any day out. She still came over to spend time with us and made sure that we knew that this cancer was not going to beat her. My grandma also let losing her hair, chemotherapy, and radiation not waiver her positive outlook on life. Her positivity made me feel even worse because if she lost the battle to this horrible disease, we would all remember how she always kept her head up until the end. Her positive attitude made me feel like I wanted to do something to honor her strength and positivity.

I have always heard of an event called The Relay For Life. It is an event that collects money and puts one-hundred percent of it towards research for cancer. My mom told me about it and I was like, “I’m in!” I knew this was a way support my grandma. The next day my mom and I created a Paypal so we could collect online donations. She told all of our friends and family and after three weeks we raised over $1,250.00

On the night of the actual event the last Friday in June, I was listening to the opening speech by the survivors and their stories hit deep. Seeing my grandma standing with all of the survivors made me think that she is beating cancer's butt. Along with raising money individually, I had a team for this event. The name of my team was Life Society and it was a group of students and teachers at my mom's school that work to make a difference in their community.When I started walking around the grassy field that was supposedly a track I thought,”This is so boring, I’d rather lay down on the ground and watch the grass grow.” But after knowing that I got a bead every time that I did one lap I was like, “I want all the beads!” Everyone has a little something to gives them that extra motivational pull and on that night it was the bead I collected for every lap that kept me going. So after walking for what felt like two and a half years and with my legs throbbing from overuse, I had around 70 of the beads.

At around midnight to one o’clock in the morning, I couldn’t do any more laps, I was tired, and needed some sleep. I said to my mom, “Can we get some sleep”. We went into the team tent and decided to get a few hours of shut-eye. My mom told me, “I am so proud of you for showing such dedication to this relay and that grandpa was looking down on him and thanking him for supporting grandma.” At this time my mom got all emotional and started to cry so I gave her a hug. As I was lying there trying to fall asleep to the music of “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit on repeat coming through my headphone, I started to reflect on this experience. I became overwhelmed with compassion for all of the people that I had met that were either cancer survivors, friends and families of cancer survivors or those supporting a loved one whom had passed , and groups of people, like some of the high school students from my mom’s school that were there to show support for all. I fell asleep thinking about how even though I was only one kid from Cumberland, I was also helping fight for a cure.

In the morning we did a few additional laps and it was time for the closing ceremony. I was expecting it to be as grand as the opening ceremony but not even a third of stayed all night to carry out our cause until the very end. My dad came to pick my mom and I up because I had a big lacrosse tournament that morning. As we drove away and I looked back on the field that I had conquered lap by lap, I realized that I made a difference for not only my grandma but for my entire community.

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Connor Almstrom
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