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Walking in his shoes

Have you ever walked a mile in someone else’s shoes? You hear people say that all the time, “until you have walked a mile in my shoes, you have no idea what I am going through” or something along those lines.

Obviously, that task is not as easy as it seems since we all wear different size shoes, but that is not the point, is it?

In order to really understand what someone goes through on a daily basis, the old adage that until you have been in my shoes, you will never fully understand what it means to be “me.”

When I decided to join the Relay for Life in Three Rivers, which was held this past weekend, I never thought that I would, in a way, understand the meaning of that phrase. I was raising money, promoting the event, joined a team and participated in the roughly 24-hour event. I just felt that I was doing a good deed. But I came away with so much more.

Cancer never sleeps, and for those 24 hours, neither did I or many of the other participants for that matter. In fact, my cousin Kathie and I participated in a scavenger hunt at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning. It was chilly, the grass was wet and it was intense and competitive! We were the oldest team in the event, but it was great fun even if it wore us out.

The entire experience was outstanding and memorable. For me, the best part of the event was seeing the community come out and support the cause, remember a loved one or celebrate the survival of someone they know. Cancer touches every single one of us in one way or another.

Emotions ran high at several points during the event. It was touching to watch the Survivor Celebration and seeing all of those who have fought and won or are winning their battle with cancer. Watching as the survivors took a victory lap was not only emotional, but gratifying.

I had the chance to talk to several of those survivors, some of them who are very good friends of mine and others who were complete strangers. I am amazed at their strength and their positive outlooks. It also made me realize, when I complain about something, geez, I really don’t have much of a reason knowing what they went through.

Another time of great emotion was the luminary ceremony where we remembered those that we have lost to cancer. It was almost a surreal event. As luminaries lined the track, hundreds of people watched as the names of loved ones scrolled on a screen and with lighted candles, we walked a lap in silence to remember and reflect.

I thought about those that I have lost to cancer. My parents, Judy and Ray, my grandfather Edwin McGlothlen, brothers Gary and Al (Edwin)McGlothlen, and uncles Richard McGlothlen and Bill Swanwick. I thought about the pain and suffering that they went through. The loss we all felt when they died and how we miss each of them so very much each and every day.

Someone asked me why I decided to be a part of the Relay for Life. When I started explaining my feelings I started out by saying how I lost my mom when I was just four years old and I did not want my children to lose a parent so young like I did. But then I thought … I do not want to be a parent who loses a child to cancer either. I cannot even begin to imagine or WANT to imagine that.

This all brings me back to walking in someone else’s shoes. Being that I was participating in my first Relay for Life, I figured why not walk in someone else’s shoes. When my father passed away, I took a pair of his Nike tennis shoes that he hardly wore. Even though they were a little small and narrower than I would wear on my own feet, this event was not about me. It was about those who have battled cancer. Just like those shoes felt on my feet, cancer is not comfortable.

The pain and discomfort I felt by wearing my dad’s shoes pales in comparison to what those with cancer go through on a daily basis and it was such a minor inconvenience for me to wear them. I would walk a mile in his shoes any day if it brought us closer to finding a cure for cancer.