Joining the Race

Joining the Race

From Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor's Soul

Joining the Race

The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.


As the sun hovered over Cocalico’s football field, hundreds of people gathered around the campus. Some were finishing their meals under the bright yellow tent; many were on the track, while others were starting to make their way onto the bleachers. The first lap of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life was about to begin—a race against cancer, full of people determined to make a difference, including my mom. There she stood on the track, ready to lead the survivor lap.

Since my aunt and uncle sponsored the survivor lap, my entire family participated in it. My mom was radiant that evening. Her energy was contagious, her smile uplifting, and her pride evident. It was obvious she was reflecting on the past year and what she had endured.

Although the past year was still on my mind, my thoughts were focused on the present. Behind me people continued to gather on the track. They were the survivors. I chuckled as the event organizers scrambled to make sure every survivor was wearing a pin. There was no need for some emblem on this night. Their expressions clearly told everyone, I am a survivor! Mixed in with the smiles, laughter and hugs, there were tears. The tears simply added to the atmosphere.

The lap was about to begin when I looked over at my mom and smiled; she returned the favor. There was a time not too long ago when my mother wasn’t thinking about some relay. Then again, there was a time not too long before that when my mother wasn’t even thinking about cancer. But now it was all she could think about. We started the march to the ribbon signifying the start of the lap.

That lap was memorable, no doubt about it. Chills ran down my spine when we turned the last corner and saw the bleachers filled with spectators. The standing ovation they gave was genuine—there was nothing scripted about it. Again, I glanced over at my mom and smiled; there was nothing scripted about that either.

The impact cancer has had on our society is great; the impact it has had on my family is even greater. For over a year, my mother endured the physical and emotional effects of cancer. Her tribulations left her tired, yet determined.

As I walked off the track following the survivor lap, I felt my mother’s determination. I realized we weren’t gathered there to start some monumental race against cancer; we were there to continue it.

Ryan Matthew Landis

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