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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Relaying for Life: What’s your reason?

Published: March 6, 2009
Section: Opinions

<i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

I was sitting by Massell pond on an oddly warm April evening when I received a call from Brian, one of my best friends and an unfaltering Mets fan, Frank Sinatra guru, and a life-long baseball player. He asked if I had time to talk, a question that had always prefaced our “heart-to-hearts.” However none of our previous conversations could have prepared me for the news that, unbeknownst to us, would change our lives forever: he had cancer.

At the time, I didn’t quite understand the significant weight of his words. I figured that he would have a rough couple of months ahead of him and would be pretty tired and bald. Nonetheless, he was a 20-year-old athlete with a strong build and lots of energy, so I thought, after a few rounds of chemo, he’d be back to regular ole “Tiger” and doing his oh-so-unique happy dance.

During the summer recess, when I was at home and able to spend time with Brian, my prediction seemed pretty accurate. We partook in low-key activities like movie-nights and drives around our hometown in upstate New York, and while I recall feeling mildly uncomfortable visiting him in the hospital during chemo sessions, we were able to carry on with our typical conversations and laughs.

By mid-July, the cancer was gone and Brian was off of treatment, and by the time I went back to Brandeis, he had a full head of hair and was back to his beloved baseball practices.

Just when everything appeared to be shaping up, I found out that Brian’s cancer had come back and had metastasized, presenting a condition that would require additional and more rigorous treatment than he had experienced over the summer. I remained hopeful and tried to share this hope with Brian as much as possible through cards, phone calls, and unconditional support. Each time I went home, I’d spend time with him, and with each visit he appeared to get slightly thinner, paler, and more tired.

By winter recess, plans were made for a bone marrow transplant. Again, I envisioned a tough process of treatment, but thought that if he could just endure the strenuous transplant, everything would be all right.

In early March, my hopes were unfortunately left unmet when Brian lost his battle to cancer. I was lucky enough to be with him during his last few days in the hospital, and am truly honored to have known such a wonderful person.

I Relay because of Brian, and because I know that my story is not unique. There are millions of people – young and old – diagnosed with cancer, which in turn means that there are millions more mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, partners, grandchildren, and friends who are enduring challenges similar to my own.

Last year, I was the Team Development co-chair for the first-ever Relay For Life at Brandeis. I went on to become co-founder and co-president of Colleges Against Cancer. This year, I have resumed my positions, which have provided me with an outlet to cope and an opportunity to actively join the fight against cancer so that one day, no one will have to bear the pain of losing a loved one to the horrible disease.

Now you know my reason to Relay, what’s yours? Please join Relay For Life of Brandeis University by visiting: