Monday, May 21, 2012

Words From the Wise #14 -- Sandi Hershenson

Today's post is not about writing.
Today's post is not necessarily from someone who is wise.
Today's post is from someone who is wiser than she was a few days ago-- me

This past weekend my family and I participated for the 4th year in a row in our local Relay for Life.  For those of you who are not familiar with Relay for Life, it is a 24 hour walk and fundraiser that supports the American Cancer Society.

EVERYONE has been somehow touched by cancer.  Whether you are a survivor, have lost a loved one, have been a care giver, or a friend to someone who has been ill, we have all been connected with cancer.

Each year I organize a team to participate in the walk.  I take care of the logistical aspects for our team.  I organize team fundraisers.  I make sure that we have all of the supplies that we will need, and I make sure that we have people committed to walking and volunteering at our booth throughout the full 24 hours.  After all, cancer never sleeps and neither will we until it is wiped out.

Each year the guests at Relay have the opportunity to hear survivors tell their cancer story.  Being that they are survivors, these particular people all have happy endings.  After the speeches, and after wiping away the tears we all take a deep breath, and get back to walking on that track.  For each of the past three years we have had a very active team and have had plenty of people to walk during the middle of the night.  This being the case, my team has always let me get a good night's sleep in my tent.

This year the number of active participants on our team was smaller, and I took on a longer walk during the night.  I enjoyed the walk.  From 2:00-4:30am I walked in the dark.  It was cold and my ankles and  hips hurt from walking on the uneven track that most days is the athletic field of a city park.  I had been walking in the 100 degree heat during the day and acting as a cheerleader for my teammates since 7:00am.  My body was physically exhausted, but my mind kept pushing me to walk.

During the walk I thought about so many things:  my kids, my mom who is a Survivor, new picture book ideas, and cancer.  I thought about how trivial so many things are when there are people of all descriptions fighting for their lives.  These are not people who made stupid mistakes to cause harm to their bodies (except for those who have smoked for years), these are people who were struck by cancer.  A disease that knows no limitations.

While I walk every year, each year I feel as though I am a little bit wiser.  I have studied the Fight Back information that each team displays and I have learned more about cancer so that I can share that information with others.  Knowledge is power, and I am now more powerful, as I have more knowledge.

The knowledge that I want to share with all of you who are stubborn and don't like to go to the doctor.  This is based upon one of our speakers who shared her story of losing her husband to cancer.  He was stubborn,  he had felt as though something wasn't right for years, but he refused to go to the doctor.  When he finally went, the doctor diagnosed him with Stage 4 colon cancer.  For the next several years the cancer had metastasized to several other places in his body.  He was told that had he come to them 5 years earlier he would have had much better chance of survival.  This gentleman passed away this past year leaving behind a wife and 3 sons.

My wise words are telling you to go to the doctor if something is not feeling right.  Don't ignore it, save your own life and help others to save their lives too.  We live in an amazing world that has endless possibilities, and being stubborn will only result in you missing out on all of it.


  1. I am grateful that you posted this. Such important words of wisdom about what matters so much.

  2. I think this is the best Word From the Wise post, EVER! This was great, Sandi! What an amazing person you are. I am so glad, proud to say I know Sandi Hershenson.

  3. What an inspiration you are Sandi. Just hearing about what it takes to pull the relay together (never mind walking from 2-4:30 a.m.) makes me tired. Thank you for sharing this story and the survivor's story. And your wise words I hope will reach the ears that need to hear them. (Or in this case the eyes that need to see them)

    1. I hope that this message reaches all those who need to hear them as well. Please feel free to pass it on. If we can work together to get just one person to be proactive in their health care, than we have done our job.

  4. Well said. Our church sponsors a team each year and it's a powerful 24 hours. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Thank you. Yes, it is an extremely powerful 24 hours! Every year watching the Survivors, and listening to the speakers inspires me more and more.