On March 9, the Johnson track filled with participants in the third Relay For Life held on MIT’s campus. Relay For Life is a 12-hour overnight event, where teams raise money and then come to support the fight against cancer by walking around the track throughout the night. The night consists of ceremonies, such as the luminaria ceremony, to honor survivors, caregivers, and all those who have battled cancer, in addition to performances by MIT dance and a cappella groups, workshops like zumba, and other games that get participants involved throughout the night.
My sorority, Alpha Phi, created a Relay team, and many of them came to the event to walk the track. As a member of the planning committee that works very hard all year long to put on this event, it meant a lot to see so many of my friends out on the track supporting Relay. Additionally, as a sister of Alpha Phi, I loved seeing how big of a presence they had not just at the event, but also during the weeks leading up to the event.
When I was 15, I was diagnosed with Burkitts lymphoma, and after a year of chemotherapy treatment, I entered remission and will not be considered “cured” until this May. Before I came to college, I wasn’t sure how I was going to tell people that I had cancer, or when it would ever come up. My freshman year was MIT’s first Relay For Life, and after registering as a survivor, I was asked to speak at the luminaria ceremony. I was so nervous, because this was the first time I was telling most people at MIT, including my sisters in Alpha Phi, that I had cancer. I knew that my sisters would be sitting in the crowd with no idea what I was about to say. After I spoke, and went back to sit with my sisters, I just had this feeling that I was going to be okay and that I had no reason to be nervous to tell them. I had found this amazing group of girls that were going to be there for me no matter what happened.
As a cancer survivor, Relay is my chance to fight back, and my chance to fight for everyone still battling or who have lost their lives to cancer. My friends and sisters in Alpha Phi know how important cancer advocacy is in my life, and how Relay has become one of my favorite aspects of being at MIT. Because of this, they were there to support me, and I could not have asked for a better group of girls to be by my side.
This year, Alpha Phi went above and beyond in our efforts. As a team, we raised over $3500 and were the fourth highest fundraising team at the event. We had a bake sale before the event to raise money and also had a booth at the event for fundraising. Not only did everyone work really hard to raise a lot of money, we also had a great presence at the event. With 50 team members, we had one of the biggest teams. I loved seeing all these familiar faces out on the track, fighting for a common cause and having a blast.
My sisters were by my side the whole night, there to laugh with me and cry with me. Relay tends to be an emotional roller coaster for me, and no matter what the circumstance, I know that they will be there right beside me in whatever capacity that I need them, no questions asked.
This is my favorite part of being in a sorority: the support that you get out of each and everyone of your sisters. At events like Relay, we really have the chance to come together and be there for each other. Many of my friends in APhi have talked to me about people in their lives who have been affected by cancer, and I know that we all have a reason to be out on the track, fighting not just for those that we know had the disease, but for each other. We all are affected, either directly or indirectly, and on this night, we all stand together and support one another.
Each Relay I get reminded how awesome it is to be a part of this group, and how supportive and amazing these girls are. I will always remember walking around the track together, fighting for one cause, and knowing that we will always be there for each other.