Over a thousand people gathered at USM last night for the launch of the Relay for Life in Penang to support raising awareness of the fight against cancer.
Special luminaria bags lit up the darkness in remembrance of loved ones no longer with us and those currently having cancer.
Relay brings us together as a community in our fight against cancer. It affirms that we can do things to protect ourselves and our loved ones against cancer; that we need to know more and spread knowledge to others; and that we can celebrate this fight together over the months of the Relay campaign, and of course at the final Relay event.
There are three key concepts for Relay which apply to us as individuals and as a Relay community: celebrate, remember, fight back.
We celebrate survivorship and everyone involved in fighting and supporting people in their fight against cancer – survivors, carers, families, and friends. The first lap at Relay is walked by survivors and their carers/supporters.
We remember those who have fought cancer. At Relay, we do this especially through the very special Luminaria ceremony. Hundreds of luminaria bags, dedicated to loved ones, line the track and are left burning throughout the night. It’s a spectacular sight.
We commit ourselves to fight back against cancer, through the various activities of Relay and beyond. This includes carrying the key messages (see Our Key Messages) to as many people as we possibly can, making sure people understand cancer better, how we can fight it, and where we can go for help.
Many people also ask why the ‘Relay’ at the final event. As many of you will know, in addition to all the entertainment, food, and other stalls which fill the field, there is a track which teams and individuals take turns to walk around (Relay For Life!).
The ‘relaying’ symbolise the journey of a cancer patient and the non-stop fight against cancer. As we walk around the track, we can think about the initial diagnosis of a cancer patient, and then, as time goes in, the various stages of reaction and treatment that patients and carers go through.
It is a long journey for many, full of conflicting emotions, ranging from hope to despair. All this can be seen in our Relay – and that is why we ask teams to keep at least one person on the track at all times, to share and symbolise our support for survivors and our communal fight against cancer.