We are all fighting cancer all the time.

I don't remember where I read this daunting statement, but it has sadly rung true for so many families — far too many mothers, fathers, children and other loved ones. If God will have me when I reach the Pearly Gates, my first question will be, “Why the children?”

Like many of you, our family's cancer journey was filled with a feeling of total helplessness, confusion and anguish. I lost Susie, my bride of 40 years, my children lost their mother and our grandchildren lost their grandma. All irreplaceable and loving relationships many of you have also had to endure the loss of.

Ask anyone you know who has lost a loved one to cancer. The emotional pain and anguish never goes away. We just get through it.

Like many of you, I wanted to help, as did my children, family and friends. We pledged to give a voice to those who can no longer speak, to take action where they no longer can and to embrace those chosen for this journey,

You may have already seen or will soon begin to see activities from people wanting to help and give hope to families on their cancer journey.

One such event is Relay for Life.

Prior to my wife's cancer diagnosis, she, my children and my extended family were involved with Relay for Life, the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Relay is staffed and coordinated by volunteers in more than 5,200 communities and 20 countries. Bakersfield has been recognized for many years as having one of the largest Relay for Life events in the world.

I know it's politically incorrect but the best way for me to describe my first experience with Relay for Life was “shock and awe.” I was “shocked” at how many people attending were wearing their survivor shirts. I seriously had no clue how prevalent cancer was in our community.

I was in “awe” and inspired by so many volunteers, teams and community members whose sole purpose for being at Relay was to help raise money, primarily for much-needed cancer research.

Relay for Life will be held this year at the Kern County Fairgrounds May 6-7 from 9 a.m. to 9 a.m. Team recruitment has already begun. There will be plenty of fun activities, raffles, food and live entertainment. Go to RelayForLife/Bakersfield/Ca for more information. Admission is free.

Campout Against Cancer is turning into another signature community event that showcases our community's concern for helping Kern County patients cover expenses related to cancer care and treatment. Campout will be held March 31–April 1 at the State Farm Sports Facility, 9001 Ashe Road.

I am part of the Planning Committee and we have friendly team competition, live music, food and plenty of family activities scheduled for the 24-hour fundraising event. To find out more information, go to kerncountycancerfund.org. Admission is free.

You don't have to be a doctor, nurse or in the medical profession generally to help families on their cancer journey. Yard sales, horseshoe tournaments and couples bunko are a few of the tools we use to raise money to help families and fight cancer.

One thing for sure, our team, the Wavehogs, will proudly be at Relay for Life and Campout Against Cancer.

Remember, we are all fighting cancer all the time. Relay for Life and Campout Against Cancer are two great community examples of how we all can help.

We hope to see you there.

Email contributing columnist Steve Flores at floressteve32@yahoo.com. His work appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.

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