Relay, survivors remind us what’s really important

Published 1:37 am Saturday, April 22, 2017

If I were a pessimist, I would say it was a rough week.

I had a fender bender that rendered my vehicle undriveable.

Work seemed to require a little more juggling than usual, and I didn’t get enough sleep.

Just when I thought I could soon exhale into Friday afternoon, my iPhone case came apart, and the screen was shattered in the fall.

Did I mention I was having a bad hair day?

But I am not a pessimist. And even if I were, this was a week that could knock all of that into a perspective that would make one think, as my dad says daily, “It’s the best day of my life.”

Covington County celebrated its annual American Cancer Society fundraiser, Relay for Life, last night. As we helped set the stage for the celebration of survivors and caregivers, we featured three survivors this week.

Skylar Hill told me a story that would melt the coldest heart as she shared her own history and details about her son, Carmello Hill, 7, who is in remission from a rare form of cancer of the connective tissue.

The two are just back from Mello’s Make a Wish trip to meet football superstar Cam Newton. The smiling young athlete looks as if he’s never had a cold, much less cancer.

Thursday found me sitting with Rhett Johnson, a stage 3 throat cancer survivor who believes that laughter is the best medicine, and attitude makes all the difference in the world.

And Friday, I listened as a parade of people introduced themselves as survivors, adding how long they’d survived. Collectively, they’ve filled the survivor roles for more than 592 years.

Dorothy Griggs was near the front of the line when she introduced herself as a 52-day survivor.

Louise Barnes proudly shared that she finished her last treatment yesterday before joining the Relay.

“Two weeks” said a woman named Beth. “Recently,” said my friend Suzanne.

But there were large numbers, too – 40 years; 25 years; 21years.


No, I am not a pessimist.

My car can be repaired.

I can sleep in today.

The phone can be fixed.

And as a cancer survivor friend once said to me, “Child, do you know how lucky you are to have hair?”

Nope, I had an awesome week.

I am grateful that my challenges are manageable, and inspired by those who are fighting and winning their battles against cancer.

Godspeed to each of you. You remind all of us of what is really important.



Michele Gerlach is publisher of The Star-News.