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Beating cancer is a never-ending race Tom Basinski | Sat, Apr 23 2011 12:00 PM

I hate to keep banging this drum, but it's time for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life-Chula Vista. Once again the event will be held at Chula Vista High School football stadium on April 30 and May 1. The opening ceremony starts at 9 a.m.

Most likely everyone who reads this has a friend or loved one who has, or is recovering from some of the many forms of cancer. I have written about the disease more than I care to, but I think this event is important enough to give it one more go.

The American Cancer Society not only uses the donated money for research, but it also provides assistance to cancer patients and their caregivers alike.

This is my second year in the Relay for Life.

As a rookie, last year I took the "relay" part seriously. The event information indicated someone from each team would be on the track walking laps during the 24 hours of the event. I figured I would draw the 2-3 a.m. shift.

While there were people on the track all night, not every team supplied a walker around the clock.

People are encouraged to walk the track at the football field and talk to others and to stop at the various booths. Very few people on my team even walked. Our members manned our booth. For a buck, one could play games of chance, and the chances of winning a prize were 100 percent.

The Relay for Life is an opportunity to raise awareness of cancer. People walk in memory of friends and relatives who have been taken by the disease. People walk in support of people who are currently resisting the sickness.

There are motivational speakers at the Relay who tell stories about their experiences with cancer. Some of the stories are interrupted by the choking tears of the storyteller. Some stories are told in a straightforward, matter-of-fact delivery that makes the listeners cry. I spoke last year and even got some laughs.

There is music and food and games for the kids. The relay is not a morose time, although one cannot deny the emotional impact. It is a time of hope, too. Saturday night during the Luminaria, candle-holding participants walk a lap to acknowledge those who have, or had the disease.

Henry's Markets in Chula Vista and Eastlake sponsored a fund-raising "tree" at both stores. Customers would purchase a "leaf" and hang it on the tree outside the store. The leaf sales amounted to more than $4,000. Henry's owner Ron Cohn kicked in an amount that brought the total up to $10,000. In addition, Henry's has two relay teams in the event.

I try to have a good attitude. Currently I am again receiving radiation and chemotherapy. I thought I was done with that after the colostomy last October.

Apparently that wasn't in the plan. Someone asked me about my "bucket list." I tell them my bucket list consists of a bucket of ice with a list of 12 hand-crafted beers to put in it.

Last year I thought I was done with cancer. I wrote that I had "survivor's guilt" because three people I know my age died and I was spared.

With my situation now I would love to have some survivor's guilt. That would mean I'm surviving. Right now I'm not so sure. The October surgery didn't do everything it was supposed to.

* * *

In my April 15 column, I suggested money from a $200,000 grant for volunteers came from taxpayers.

It does not.

The grant money comes from the Rockefeller Foundation and from Bloomberg Philanthropic, not from the government.

I regret the error.

Basinski is a 35-year police veteran, 17 of them with Chula Vista.

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