By Jonathan Adams
Everyone stood quiet in remembrance of those who fell victim to cancer when the Javelina Stadium lights shut off.
Tiny lluminaria surrounded the field, and filled the stadium with a solemn glow. No bright lamps flared into the night, save for beacons which shone from the visitors bleachers and spelled out one word:
Every year the American Cancer Society holds the Relay for Life nation- wide to support those fighting cancer, and honor its survivors.
On Friday, April 20 hundreds of people gathered at the stadium to walk the track from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“I’m here in support of my father and my grandfather,” Adrienne Reyes, registered nurse in Harlingen and county co-chair of the event in the valley, said. “My father, Abelardo Enriques, was an officer in Kingsville.”
She said her father was only 35-years-old when he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Reyes said one year later he died, when she was only 14 years old.
“I really don’t remember a whole lot of the treatments, but I remember when he passed,” she said. “It was hard having to go through all the milestones without my dad: graduation, graduation from college, marriage, having my kids.”
Reyes said she’s a big supporter of Relay for Life, and expects to be the chair of the event next year.
“I came from Harlingen to walk here with my mom,” Reyes said.
Although Reyes does not have cancer herself, she said she became a registered nurse because of her family’s history with cancer and in order to help others, like Noe Zamora Jr., a cancer survivor.
“It was difficult not knowing that you can actually cure (cancer) just yet, but hoping that one day it can be possible,” Zamora said.
Zamora was diagnosed with cancer when he was 14-years-old.
He said he was not entirely sure what type of cancer he had, but he knew it had to do with his spinal cord.
“After my surgery it took at least two years (to recover) with therapy and chemo,” Zamora said. “And then it took like seven more years while I was in remission.”
Zamora said it was tough, but he was glad it was him and not someone else.
“There’s a lot of us out there, but we just keep on moving,” Zamora said. “Just stay together and you can overcome it.”
Some cancer survivors at the event, however, have kept their history with cancer a secret, such as Maritza Garcia, a 20-year-old TAMUK student.
“I kind of feel like sometimes people use (cancer) as a crutch,” Garcia said. “Most of these girls (from my sorority) just found out I had cancer today.”
At only six months old, Garcia was diagnosed with leukemia, so she said she does not remember it.
“I feel like I should be doing something great with my life because I survived,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m doing anything great, so I’m just trying to find how I’m supposed to make a difference if I was chosen to stay here.”
Garcia said as a child she went through many bone marrow transplants, but she never had to worry about chemo.
“Sometimes my parents worry because I get random nose bleeds, or they’ll take me to get checked and my white blood count will be up,” she said.
She has only been spooked once about her health since her experience as a child.
“Last year I went to the doctor to get checked because I’d been getting dizzy,” she said. “He called me back and said it was an emergency, so we did some more tests and it turned out my white blood cell count was up.”
“It was nerve racking (waiting for results),” she added. “But it turned out to be nothing.”
Garcia said that she’s a strong supporter of Relay for Life, and that this only is her second year participating and letting people know she’s a survivor.
“I just think that no matter what you go through, it shouldn’t represent who you are. It’s an experience, but it doesn’t define you,” she said.
By Jonathan Adams