Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Relay for Life was this past weekend. This is our 5th year as "Team Dippel" and we've got it down to a smoothly orchestrated event. The usual suspects attended and we had a great time walking the track, eating unhealthy snacks, and spending some quality time together.

Grayson felt it more intensely this time, recognizing the meaning of the event in a way he has been too young to understand in past years. He cried and quietly told me how much he misses his Dad. He asked me about the luminaria ceremony and the hope for a cure. I think each of our team members get something personal out of the event, and it changes each year. Unfortunately, each year we know more people impacted by the disease, so our thoughts are with more than just Daniel. My thoughts are always on Daniel, how he should be there wearing a purple shirt and walking a lap with the other survivors. Clearly he isn't, or I wouldn't be writing for this blog.

I'm less bitter now about that part of the event and more able to appreciate those survivors for the lucky people they are. Some of them are still undergoing treatment and it is heartbreaking to watch them struggle to make their lap. A battle of will seems to be taking place, and it is a private hell that we glimpse for a moment. In that lap, the survivors, healthy and unhealthy alike, seem to be giving the finger to cancer, and it is humbling and inspirational to watch. One of my nephews asked why they are considered "survivors" - and he pointed to someone who was obviously still very sick. I smiled at him and said "they're still here....", to which he responded "good point".

Survivors aren't all cured yet, and some may feel as if they never are cured, but they are still here. I hadn't really thought of it that way until Garett asked the question, and then couldn't help but apply it to myself and to my fellow widows/widowers and our families. We will likely never feel completely healed or "cured" of our loss. We are still fighting the fight, but we are still here. We are survivors.

Happy Tuesday! - Michelle D.


  1. I struggle with the term survivor sometimes. As if those who died from cancer failed somehow. I know this is not how it is generally intended, but it's hard not to feel that way once in a while.

    My husband died of cancer - but in my mind 'he' survived it. His body may have been taken over or 'lost', but who he was as a person really only improved while dealing with his illness (and he was pretty great to begin with!). He didn't let cancer take who he was - to me, every day he lived with cancer and the legacy of his life he left in death is how he survived.

    As for myself as a widow - in some respects I know I am not the same person as before and it's hard to feel as if I've survived . . . but I gather the fact that I am still here a year (and 6 days) later must stand for something. =)

  2. Chelsea,
    I agree with you, and am often put off by the "survivor" language and the concept that they lost the battle. Daniel never let cancer win either and he didn't let it define him or take away his sense of humor or joy in life. He survived it too. I love that idea, thanks for sharing it. As for us, still here is definitely something, even if we are changed. Glad and sorry to "meet" you. :) Michelle