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Walking through the night, they won't walk alone Tom Basinski | Sun, May 16 2010 02:38 PM

Walking in circles as a way of helping those along the way

Because cancer never sleeps, the American Cancer Society is sponsoring the 24-Hour Relay For Life at Chula Vista High School, May 22-23.

The event is meant to raise awareness of the horrible nature of the disease and to raise money for cancer research and assistance for those who are being treated for it.

I'm mostly a loner. When diagnosed with colorectal cancer last year I didn't join a support group. The first thing I did was ask, "Why me?" I've always been a pretty decent human being.

Over the years I may have roughed up a few guys who needed it, but, like I said, they needed it.

I donate to my church and to various charities. I'm nice to old people and good to my family. At a four-way stop sign, if there's any doubt who arrived first, I always wave the other person through. Why me?

After a year of rather aggressive treatment, including radiation, chemo and surgery, it looks like I'm going to make it.

During that year, three people my age I know were also being treated for cancer. All three died. Then I asked, "Why not me?" Why was I spared? It didn't make sense.

I finally stopped trying to figure it out. The concept was beyond my allotment of intelligence.

Like I said, I'm mostly a self-contained guy. I write my true crime books alone up in the "murder room," listening to classical music, coming down occasionally for a cup of coffee, or, in the afternoon, a sip or two of Russian vodka. Years ago, in an attempt to expand my sociability and writing skills, I joined a writers' group briefly until I decided they were largely a bunch of wackos.

When I first became sick, the former rector of my seminary, 92-year old Fr. Roy Rihn in San Antonio, Texas told me, "Let your family love you." I had to make a conscious effort to do that, I'm sad to say. My wife wanted to drive me to the doctor when I was perfectly capable of doing it myself. She wanted to drive me to and from chemotherapy when I knew I wouldn't be sick until a few hours after arriving back home.

I listened to Fr. Rihn, and let my family assist me. Not being too smart, I eventually realized it made my family feel better if they were able to do things for me. I should have known this, but it took someone else to tell me.

On May 22-23, a large group of committed, caring, wonderful people will be at the Relay for Life.

It is a combination of celebrating the fact that there are so many survivors of cancer, including those still being treated, and also a memorial that there are many who did not make it.

It is not a sad event, although during the Luminaria Candle Ceremony at 9 p.m. on Saturday, a few tears undoubtedly will be shed.

My mother was a double-mastectomy survivor, who later succumbed to heart disease. Long ago, my maternal grandparents both died from cancer because there was insufficient information about early diagnosis. Treatment was not as advanced as it is today.

At Chula Vista High School from noon until 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 22, there will be a Kids' Carnival with lots of family fun and live entertainment all day.

Members of the various relay teams will be walking around the school track during the entire 24-hour period.

I will be doing laps for my team when it's my turn. Am I looking forward to bringing my tent, sleeping bag, sunscreen, bug spray and using a Port-a-Potty? Heck yeah. A year ago now, I didn't know if I'd be around to do anything like this.

For more details, go to www. relayforlife.org/chulavistaca.

Basinski is a 35-year police veteran, 17 of them with Chula Vista. His website is www. tombasinski.com.

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