Cancer Never Sleeps

By: Maya Pockrose

The Arlington Relay for Life is taking place on June 11 at AHS. The event is open to everyone, including students, families, and community members. Participants form teams and walk or run laps around a track, keeping at least one team member on the track at all times. Money is raised by participants to benefit the American Cancer Society.

The public is welcome to join the event at the AHS track. The even will last (for many) from 6pm-11pm. For those participating, the event begins at 6pm on June 11 and ends at 6am on June 12.

The overnight stay is meant to symbolize the experience of a person undergoing cancer treatment. It begins at sunset, which is meant to represent the diagnosis and the dark feelings that come with it. The representation of the beginning of actual cancer treatment is around 1 or 2 AM, because people are tired and want to give up. Participants cannot give up, just as those undergoing treatment cannot give up.

The end of treatment comes at 4 or 5 am. Though he/she is still tired, the patient (or Relay participant) realizes he/she will make it through. Finally, the sun rises. The patient sees the light and can begin to take back his/her life and start anew. Participants will be relieved to know the morning has almost arrived, and will feel the exhaustion felt by a person who has finished treatment.

Money raised at Relay supports the “research, education, and programs and services offered by the American Cancer Society, which works on cancer that affects all ages. [This] research money has funded 47 Nobel Prize winning researchers early in their careers,” says Julie Rauseo, Community Manager at the New England Division of Relay for Life. Rauseo got involved with Relay For Life roughly 8 years ago as a Team Member. She then progressed to the position of Team Captain and joined the leadership planning team. She “wanted to a job where [she] had a greater impact on people’s lives, so [she] applied for a job at the American Cancer Society.” Rauseo doesn’t organize Relay just at AHS. She also works with Bedford (“largely planned by students”), Billerica, Tewksbury & Wilmington, and Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge.

Rauseo was personally impacted by cancer at a young age, when she lost her second grade teacher six weeks before the end of the school year. The following summer, a classmate of hers was diagnosed with leukemia. In addition, she’s had multiple family members diagnosed with it and believes that “it is just a disease that affects too many people.” She also lost her dad after he battled for 20 months with Pancreatic Cancer. It was hard for Rauseo. Instead of letting the feeling envelop her, she decided to make a difference to combat cancer. 

The great thing about Relay is that it’s a chance for AHS students to support a very worthy cause while becoming closer to one another and building community. It can be difficult to know how to help when a problem looms as large as cancer does, but Relay provides a constructive, informative, and fun way to get involved and make a difference. And remember not to complain about the event’s prolonged hours; it is a reminder to us that “cancer never sleeps”.

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