i paint i write

Live boldly, laugh and make art

Walking to remember with Relay For Life

Relay for Life

The cancer survivors wore purple t-shirts; each held a purple balloon. I am a cancer survivor; I wore a purple t-shirt and held a purple balloon last night. The balloons represented the fear of cancer returning. We released our balloons at the same time.

Letting go of fear.

The survivors walked around the track together at the Boyertown, Pennsylvania Relay for Life, yesterday.  The Survivors Lap celebrates the survivors victory over cancer. People clapped as we walked by. I cried.

My daughter said, “Lets buy a luminaria for Grandpa. I never met him, but I want to remember him.”

We bought a luminaria for  her grandfather, my father. She was born four years after he died. I felt like I was shopping for groceries. I didn’t feel the need to write his name down or remember him publicly.

A luminaria for my father

My daughter and I walked around the high school track looking for my father’s name. The luminaria were placed in alphabetical order on the inside edge of the track. The bags encircled the entire track.  When we found the bag with his name written on it, we held each other and cried.  Writing my  father’s name  and speaking his name out loud made him feel alive.

Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?
― Terry Pratchett, Going Postal

Cancer has touched my life. It touched my leg with malignant melanoma. It touched my father’s life with colon cancer and killed him. Cancer has touched my mother’s life with breast cancer. And it has touched my brother’s life with prostate cancer. My brother and my mom and I are survivors.

 To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.
― Thomas Campbell

If you would like to walk in a Survivor Walk or walk with a team in a Relay For Life event, you can click here to find an event in your area. You can also give tax-deductible donations  to The American Cancer society and Relay for Life here, if you are unable to walk.

Let the fear go



About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

Feature Box

Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • Christa Sterken

    beautiful story. I had malignant melanoma between my eyes two years ago, but they were able to remove it all. I had never considered myself even remotely in the same boat as a survivor. I do think of my family though. Cancer is rampant in colon and breast in my family lines. My aunt is surviving a three year fight with breast cancer. Her sister lost. Their cousins all lost. My brother just told me I need to schedule a colonoscopy right away based on his own results. Gpa had colon cancer, three of his siblings did too. All in 40’s. Yet, while I have a healthy awareness of the reality of cancer, it is hard still for me to take seriously enough for myself. Every year I get at least one mammogram. Last year I had to come back for three more takes and an ultrasound. They said nothing there to worry about, yet…come in six months. Now they are calling me, persistent. All I have wound up with is a lot, a lot, of medical debt. Hard to know when to listen and keep coming, you know? I so admire survivors, not sure I would have what it takes. God bless you and your family dear Pamela

    • Christa, please call and make the appointment. I had a colonoscopy when I was 40 and I had a precancerous polyp. If I had waited until they suggested, it may have been cancer. The best thing about the test, is you get your true body weight.
      Cancer is rampant in my family as well. On my dad’s side, Aunts and cousins. I just walk and eat healthy and try to catch the rogue cells before they send our colonies.
      Hugs to you Christa.

  • Pamela, I had no idea you were a cancer survivor. My husband is a twenty year, two time survivor. He wasn’t able to walk in this year’s event, but I purchased a luminaria in his honor.

    • Twenty year survivor sounds so nice. Another birthday each year, so much to be thankful for.

  • Pam, I am also a cancer surviver. Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Going on eight years. I do not fear cancer at all. Cancer changed me, GAVE ME A SECOND CHANCE. Cancer taught me to live every day, not to waste a second. If it ever returns, I will fight again. Worrying about it…not me.

    • Patricia, eight years, that is great. I feel the same. I appreciate life so much more after I got skin cancer. I don’t worry, but I do get my skin checked regularly.

      • You and I know that worry won’t help. I meant Bryan should not fear/worry. I’ll write him that. I’m sorry about your dad. I lost my teenage daughter, 14 months after I was diagnosed. She died 1 day before I got the phone call from my oncologist that I was in remission.

        • I am so sorry about the death of your daughter. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a child die.

          • Thank you Pam. It is not something I want for anyone. These things happen unfortunately. We celebrate her life by living ours to the fullest. She loved life and after she died we realized we had only one life, that we had to live it and love it. We do.

  • God bless, Pamela. I had no idea. In a way I fear cancer terribly because my Grandfather and then 2 years later my father died of cancer. They happened so close to each other that I became kind of a hypochondriac… thanks for sharing your story.

    • Thank you Bryan. Your kindness means a lot.

    • Bryan, do not fear cancer. Cancer changed my life, gave me a second chance. One I am not going to waste. You will be fine anyway.

    • Bryan, don’t fear it, try and catch it. Go for yearly checks and get your PSA test done. My brother had asked for the test for years, but his doctor told him he was too young. Finally he convinced the doctor to order the test and he had Prostate Cancer, that had spread.