Cheryl volunteering Relay for Life

My experience volunteering at Relay for Life

Now I wonder why I waited so long…

Over the last eighteen years I have been asked many times to attend, participate or volunteer in events that support cancer. Whether it was invites to ‘Biggest Morning Teas’, the opportunity to sell merchandise for ‘Daffodil Day’ or attend ‘Relay for Life’, and my response was always the same ‘happy to contribute financially but sorry I can’t attend’.

And while I must have every piece of Daffodil Day merchandise ever produced, I was always guilty of avoiding planned events with my work colleagues or with my friends.

Not that I made this public, but my reluctance to attend events was due to my father’s death from liver cancer. It was quick, it was nasty and it left a hole in my heart that remains raw eighteen years later.

Don’t get me wrong, I am always happy to learn someone has beaten this terrible disease and I love that people who have survived and their families get to celebrate because surviving cancer is definitely a cause for celebration, but my families experience didn’t have a happy ending, and I was always worried my sorrow would somehow surface and I would manage to upset others rather than rejoice with them at organised events.

This all changed for me recently when my work colleague Tracy asked me to spend a Saturday afternoon with her at the Singleton ‘Relay for Life’ event. Tracy was volunteering with other Beyond Bank employees and wanted me to go with her. After much deliberation, I agreed to attend.

And I am so happy I did. From the moment I arrived at ‘Relay for Life’ I was pleased I was there. The atmosphere was a celebration with happy people, some in costumes walking the relay track, kids were being creative painting candle bags in memory of their loved ones, and everyone was happy and celebrating life.

I spent my afternoon at my first ‘Relay for Life’ handing out Beyond Bank balloons and thunder sticks, and helping the kids paint and decorate their candle bags.

A highlight for me was watching the candle bags get turned on just on dark and the field come to life with special tributes for loved ones lost, and I was sorry that I hadn’t decorated a candle bag for my Dad.

I’m glad I made the decision to finally attend and volunteer at a ‘Relay for Life’ event and I certainly won’t avoid them in the future.

Find out more about our volunteering program here or let us know about your volunteering experiences below.