Tears filled many eyes the night children, parents, relatives and friends of cancer victims walked up onto the stage at this weekend’s Relay for Life, and shared memories of their loved ones starting with the words “I remember.”
During this luminary ceremony, hundreds of candles were lit inside bags around the track, each decorated and dedicated to someone who is fighting, survived or was beat by cancer. The lights were meant to eliminate the pain of fears of all those who encounter the disease.
The fourth annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life took place on Pierce College’s soccer field April 28 and 29 to raise awareness and funds for the fight against cancer.
The goal was to keep at least one person from each volunteering team on the track for a period of 24 hours.
Husband and wife Dick Bublitz, 80, and Rosemary Bublitz, 78, volunteered during the event, and ran the track as well. Rosemary beat cancer more than once in his lifetime.
She fought skin and breast cancer. She’s had three skin operations and three mastectomies, Bublitz said.
Although it was his first time participating in Relay for Life, he was fortunate to contribute to a cause so personal to him and his wife, he said.
“I want to help eradicate cancer, to find a cure, so people don’t have to go through what we went through,” he said.
At their tent, Bublitz and his wife exchanged clothes and other wares from Rick’s company for donations. Although many just walked the track because of the heat, they did not let the weather stop them from running.
“Rosemary likes to run rather than walk, so we will run,” Bublitz said before they began their run.
For Rosemary, running has been one way to deal with cancer.
“I run and I exercise,” she said. “It keeps me going. I’ve reached the point where I don’t think about cancer anymore.”
Bublitz admits, however, that they used to live in a constant state of anxiety, always wary of another episode of cancer occurring. Whenever she got an ache or pain, she would attribute it to having cancer again, he said.
“Just the fear of cancer is probably the worst thing of anything,” he said.
Bublitz, who runs the company Fibrenew West, is a member of the Woodland Hills-Tarzana Chamber of Commerce. He’s the chair of the Marketing and PR Department, and since arriving to Woodland Hills in 1970, he has tried to stay active in the community, he said.
Pierce students also showed up to participate in the relay. Rodrigo Espinoza, a Political Science major and member of the ASO, volunteered for the event for the first time.
He is also a cancer survivor.
At the age of two, Espinoza was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a common cancer found mostly in children.
His grandmother also died of cancer, and when he was younger he saw other cancer-stricken children relapse and die around, he said.
“You can’t measure how personal [the cancer relay] is,” he said.
Robert Hovanisian, a film major and another ASO member, volunteered in Relay for Life Saturday for the second time. His grandmother and grandfather both died due to cancer in addition to a few other relatives, he said.
“I want to come out and support the cause,” he said.
When asked if he’d be walking or running in the event, he laughed, “It’s too hot for running,”
Contributing: Lior Haykeen