Experiencing Relay in a Different Country

Henrik Michaelsen from Denmark had a chance to experience Relay For Life in Ireland earlier this year. Hear from him how some of the same Relay For Life traditions unite us in our global fight against cancer.

We are so different - just not when it comes to cancer

Sitting in the plane after a long weekend with Relay For Life in Ireland in a city - Kilkenny - with about 25,000 inhabitants. My meeting with Ireland, however, already started Friday when I met Matt Lewis from the Irish Cancer Society, at their headquarters. Here I was introduced to the entire department where they work with the development of their Relay For Life.


Saturday morning we set out on a long drive to get to Kilkenny, where the Relay was held. I was by nature very curious as to how they wound their . On the other hand , I knew good the concept, but anyway , the first variation came from the start.

It later turned out that there were quite a few variations throughout the weekend.

The survivors always starts first, just as in Denmark. Followed by relatives after also being applauded around the track . When this round is finished, the track is given free for all. Personally I found this particular track very touching I came to think back to the time my father was hospitalized with leukemia.We caregivers are exposed to an incredible pressure during our family member's illness. The idea of making this round for the relatives , I can therefore highly recommend that we take for us. The survivors are struggling every day, but we as relatives fighting an almost as big fight . Without all of you who today are relatives , would the fighters stand alone and their struggle would be unreasonable much larger.

From the start, they sold many luminaria and had also sold many before the weekend . They ended up with just over 2,000 sold in total, as they sat all the way around the track. An absolutely fantastic sight as darkness fell. The Candle of Hope ceremony was virtually the same as in Denmark, with the luminaria, singing, talking, recalling them as no more and give hope to those who struggle . At one point it was still just so much more different. The sample for the first time here in the city Kilkenny a new ceremony , which they called "the empty table"

All things which are on the table , has its own symbolism. The table is small , symbolising the frailty of a single patient. The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the medical profession , doctors, nurses and researchers who helped fight the battle for life.The single rose in the vase, signifies the enduring love of  families and friends and the strength of the patients’ will to fight the disease.The pink ribbon on the vase represents the ribbons worn on the lapels of millions, who support a continued search for a cure, not only for breast cancer but for all cancers. A slice of lemon on the plate ,  reminds us of the bitter battle against cancer, It reminds us of the difficulties those fighting cancer have to endure. More people are surviving cancer and living well following treatment. The salt sprinkled on the plate , reminds us of the countless tears of personal anguish shed by the patient and those shed by family members and friends who have lost a loved one.The glass is inverted in memory of those people who are not here to join our celebration of successes in finding a cure. But, the candle represents the light of HOPE that lives in the hearts of all of us.

To conclude the ceremony , took a suvivor the torch and carried it in front of all the participants one track.To walk among 800 people without a word was said while looking at the 2000 lighting backs was really a beautiful experience. All went to their own thoughts, some craid, others put his arm around the person who walked alongside. A single family stopped for a moment by a the lighting back to commemorate the person certain image they had put in the bag

We all have our ways of seeing things differently in our own society. I have participated in the Relay For Life in Denmark , Belgium and now Ireland. Three countries with very different societies. In one area, we are quite similar. When we ourselves are affected by cancer, or one of our relatives are affected. No matter what part of the world we come from, we all need hope, unity and support from our relatives.

Let us continue the struggle for a cure against cancer