A celebration with a very serious purpose

Celebration. It’s hardly a word you would associate with cancer. Yet, if one were to drive past the Houghton High School track Friday afternoon, celebration would most like be the word you would use to describe what’s going on.

And why not? You’d see people laughing and having fun, music, great food, games being played and prizes being won. Certainly a celebration by any definition of the word.

But a celebration with a serious purpose. The American Cancer Society’s Houghton County Relay for Life gets underway at 1 p.m. Friday. For the uninitiated the Relay is all of what is mentioned above, and so much more.

Considered the biggest of the U.P.’s Relays, the Houghton County event raises considerably more money annually than Relays held in much larger communities.

Despite the fun and apparent frivolity, raising money for cancer research is front and center at the Relay for Life. Nearly as important is the recognition of those who have fought a battle with cancer and won … and those who lost.”

At dusk Friday, hundreds of luminaires, candle-lit paper bags adorned with the names of cancer victims and survivors, will encircle the track. A solemn reminder of the seriousness of the Relay.

To us, the highlight of the event is the Survivors Lap, a victory lap, if you will to those who have battled cancer and are here to tell about it. Hundreds will take the track in a communal “we did it.” Among the survivors are those were given a short life expectancy, a long time ago.

And among the names on the bags are those who left the community of survivors much to soon.

We encourage all to partake in the Relay for Life. Stay for a while or stay the night. The plethora of activities will keep the entire family occupied.

All of it designed to make cancer a memory as quickly as possible.