Why I support Relay for Life

By Wendy Cook
Accounting Chairman
Webster County Relay for Life

When my husband retired, we fulfilled his dream of moving back to his
hometown of Eupora. We live here now, among friends and neighbors,
and count our blessings when we are able to take part in community
activities that promote the health and welfare of these wonderful
people.

In 2009 Bethany Cooper asked me if I would help with the first Relay
for Live event in Webster County. I was familiar with this event
because I had served as the memorial chairman for the American Cancer
Society in Calhoun County.

I was honored that someone with such amazing organizational skills
would want me as a team player for what would surely be an exciting
and worthwhile event for our county. Now, let me tell you … WHY I RELAY!

Both of my parents had cancer. My mother, Annie Mae Hamilton, was the
librarian at the Maben Public Library for 28 years. When we found out
she had breast cancer, we were all devastated. We watched her suffer
through all of those dreaded treatments. Throughout it all, she never
complained, but continued her life as God had ordered.

She was not only my mother, she was my best friend. She was the
“rock” of our family. There were five children in our family:
Charles, Tommy, Judy, David and myself. We learned from her the value
of family, to support and respect others. Most of all, my mother
taught us about being a part of God’s family. I am very blessed to
have been brought up in a Christian home. We were never asked on
Sunday morning if we wanted to go to church. My parents took us to
church. They taught us that God has a plan, a place and a purpose for
every life.

My granddaughter, Annie Katelyn Herring, was named after my mother,
who continues to be a living presence in our lives. When Annie was in
kindergarten, they lived in Indianola. She had often heard the story
about her great-grandmother who died with breast cancer and how she
was named after this wonderful woman.

Annie’s mother, Tracy Herring, was working with Relay for Life in
that county. Annie got on her bicycle and went door to door in her
neighborhood telling her story of how she got her name and how her
great-grandmother died. She raised $100 the first day, which was the
beginning of her participation in Relay for Life activities.

My children and grandchildren continue today to participate in Relay
for Life activities in the towns where they live. I think it is
important to teach our children to accept a challenge in helping
others and am so very proud of them. It is my prayer that someday
some of them will even see a cure for this dreaded disease, cancer.

Our family continued to feel the devastating effects of this disease
as our father, Winfred Hamilton, also had cancer. He was the
“encourager” of all encouragers. He always told us to look up and we
could do anything we wanted to do. He made sure his family knew they
were loved. He was one that helped people when no one else knew about
it. Sometimes, even those he helped never knew what he did. Cancer,
again, took something of value and priceless worth from our family.

The disease continued its heartless trek into our lives as my
brother, my sister, aunts, uncles and even friends as close as family
fell victim to this disease. However, my world turned upside down
when my husband Billy Cook (Coach Cook) was diagnosed with cancer. I
watched as he endured the testing, the waiting, the surgery and
always the suffering. We thought he had beaten the odds, only to have
it return. Now he is clear again. Your heart, though, is never the
same when someone you love so much has hurt so deeply.

Young or old, we have all been touched by cancer. Whether you are a
caregiver or survivor, Webster County Relay for Life team members are
here to support you, encourage you, and pray for you daily. In some
small way, by helping with the Relay for Life event, I feel I can
honor my parents and loved ones. They are gone, but I am still
fighting for them. I am doing what I can to help find a cure for cancer.

Webster County has one of the highest rates of cancer in Mississippi.
My story is one of many and we all know that “Cancer Never Takes A
Holiday” so I’m asking you to come and join me at the hospital
walking track on April 26. I’ll be there with my “grands” Ty, Baily,
Annie and Warner.

Their parents will be joining us too as we celebrate, as a family,
those whose lives were cut way too short for the ones they left behind.

So, I have told you my story. Teams all over Webster County are
working hard now to promote this event. We need you to prayerfully
consider how you can participate. I leave you now with this question:
“WHO NEEDS YOU TO RELAY FOR THEM?”