With cancer hitting so close to home, Relay for Life is a chance to thank community
Cancer is stupid. Cancer is evil. Cancer is cruel.
We've heard these and other more colorful, not-so-newspaper friendly descriptions of cancer. And they're all true.
But for all the things that cancer is, what it cannot steal without our consent are those attributes that make us human: love, compassion, and hope.
The most devastating blow my family has endured because of cancer is the death of my wife, Kristina Lee Kearsley, this last November due to pancreatic cancer. She was a quiet, yet valuable member of the Sherwood community.
Kris spent hundreds of hours over the years painting beautiful backdrops and set pieces for the Voices for the Performing Arts Foundation's junior musicals and concerts, Sherwood High School's theater program, and Sherwood Foundation for the Arts' summer musicals.
She redecorated many homes, altered many prom dresses, made boutonnieres and corsages out of flowers from her own garden, and created beautiful floral arrangements for many weddings.
More often than not Kris worked her magic as a volunteer and friend. And in her hour of need, the Sherwood community reciprocated its love. Messages of compassion and encouragement flowed constantly throughout her 16-month battle. Meals were provided, weeds were pulled, and everyday expenses paid for on our behalf.
Cancer has also impacted my parents' health. My incredible mother has lived over half her life with cancer. She has survived breast cancer twice, the first when she was in her mid-30s, colon cancer, and ovarian cancer.
My father receives treatment for bladder cancer. He's been such a source of strength to my mother over the years that it's hard to fathom that he's the one who needs encouragement and love.
Finally, as if to emphasize the point that cancer is no respecter of persons, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer this February.
Though I'm fortunate that surgery seems to have eliminated the need for additional treatment, the community continues to rally to aid my family.
Sherwood's Relay for Life, which takes place Saturday, Aug. 5 at 5 p.m., through Sunday, Aug. 6 at 8 a.m. at Sherwood High School, offers my family an opportunity to give back to a community that enveloped us in so much love and compassion that we can't help but have hope for a life of joy and happiness.
"Hope Lives Here" is not just the theme for this year's event, it is the essence of what we have experienced living with cancer in Sherwood.
Anyone who has been directly or indirectly touched by cancer is invited to participate. Making a donation, creating or joining a team, or helping organize the event are ways in which anyone can get involved.
Adequately expressing our gratitude to the Sherwood community for the outpouring of love we've experienced seems impossible. Relay of Life, however, is a start.
Whether the "Kris with a K" team hits our fundraising goal or not, we invite you to join my family and the Relay for Life organizers and participants to celebrate and honor all cancer victims and their support teams.
Corey Kearsley is a Sherwood resident.