A Call to Arms

There are a tons of wonderful groups out there helping fight against cancer, one of which posted something that tickled me.

Stupid Cancer Manifestowww.facebook.com/stupidcancer

On November 15th, Stupid Cancer on Facebook posted this with the following caption “What do you believe? Should we even be using military terminology when it comes to facing disease?”

Stupid Cancerhttps://www.facebook.com/stupidcancer/photos/a.10150120311596306.300489.10900196305/10152817230801306/?type=1&theater

Yes I do believe we should be using military terminology when dealing cancer.

We have an army of Relay For Life people in 23 countries around the world, all organized into divisions and sub groups, each with their own lead ship, taking their lead from umbrella groups and leaders.

We have countless other groups and organizations in this battle, from Marrow Donor Programs, groups that target specific types of cancer or cancer groups, Cancer hospitals, education and awareness, and so much more, all with support coming in from areas.

Our fight covers all aspect of this fight, from R and D, curing the victims, support for them and their families at every stage of their battle or battles.

And we are working on defense with improved early detection and education of our enemy, and what you can do, to lessen you chance of encountering this foe.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It will hit anyone, any age, any race or demographics group, and will always have collateral damage, as cancer does hit one bird, it hits the whole flock.

And here we are, standing shoulder to shoulder, firm in our belief, we will be victorious in this war against our enemy.

So yes, they did not lose their battle, they are the honored casualties of this war. And like we remember our veterans of real wars, at every Remembrance or Armistice ceremony, we honor our cancer veterans, past and present, at every Relay event around the world.

In the finest tradition spoken by armies throughout history, I shout out “I don’t think cancer knows who he’s F%$*ing with!”

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For the love of life and the life of one loved

Sunday August 24th, 2014 the Relay Rockers held a special event and celebration to give thanks and to honor three very special people.

The first was a warm dedication to their co-founder and late friend Alliez Mysterio with the creation of the Alliez Mysterio Award followed by this years recipients. What follows was gratiously shared by Trader Whiplash.

The Relay Rockers are please to present the Alliez Mysterio Award to Honor our late friend and co-founder.

Alliez Mysterio came to Second Life in 2003.  A pioneering virtual explorer Alliez saw the potential of the nascent private island sims and in 2005 her first sim, Rue d’Alliez opened.  From that single island d’Alliez Estates spread over the grid, growing to more than 150 islands.  She established a system of ownership and rentals that has provided a home to many residents of Second Life regardless of their virtual manifestations, lifestyles or interests.  She made every effort to accommodate her tenants, was always there to address issues and was loved by all who came to know her.
Alliez_001In 2005 she joined with Trader Whiplash and Nuala Maracas and formed the team that became known as the Relay Rockers.  From 2005 until breast cancer took her from us in 2013 Alliez was a steadfast supporter of both the Relay Rockers and Relay For Life of Second Life.

Alliez_007This award will be given annually to the person or persons who, in the opinion of the team’s award committee, have exhibited “Relentless Dedication”  and have made an “Enduring Contribution” to the Relay For Life of Second Life.

Our first winner of the 2014 Alliez Mysterio award is also a pioneer.  When Relay began in 2005 Second Life was a different platform than it is today.  While it represented the most advanced 3-d communications platform ever, it was far less sophisticated than the Second Life of 2014.  Our Relay relied on simple scripts to collect donations.  Security issues, while not serious, were a consideration, and a means to sell items to benefit the American Cancer Society had not yet been developed.
 
Dwen Dooley,  began to find new means to improve our Relay tools. He created new ways to sell items and to spread the word about our teams and our events.  Dwen created the Event Boards that we see all over the grid,  he saw the need for Raffle Vendors, Dual Team Kiosks and Auction Kiosks.  He also created the donation givers and the halo givers and continued to advance all of these devices as quickly as Linden Lab provided new and updated means.

Dwen Dance OffDwen who began in Relay as a Relay Rocker,  served as event co-chair from 2010 – 2013. A survivor himself he spoke loudly in support of the Mission of the American Cancer Society and our very special Relay.  He even encouraged his good friend Stinky to become the Rodent of the Hour with the creation of Skunking and De-Skunking Kiosks.   He monitored convio and maintained the recording systems that enable the American Cancer Society and the Relay For Life of Second Life to continue to grow and reach ever stronger numbers each season.  

Alliez_002Therefore, the Relay Rockers are honored and proud to present the 2014 Alliez Mysterio Award to Dwen Dooley, for his  relentless dedication and enduring contributions to the Relay For Life of Second Life.

Our Second recipient this year has lead Relay For Life to two record breaking seasons.  A member of Relay For Life since 2007 she began as part of the TVCH teams.  In 2008 she formed the Relay AllStars and with her teammates began what is now an annual mega-event, the Home And Garden Expo.   

She came to the committee in 2008 as a Live Music coordinator. In 2009 she was invited to join the committee on the event day staff. She became a Co-Chair in 2011 and served with her friend MamaP Beerbaum as our Relay grew in size and stature in both the virtual and organic worlds.  In 2013 she was chosen to serve as Event Chair and shepherded Relay to another record season as the largest virtual event passed the $2,000,000 mark.   This season she was at the helm as Relay set records for teams, participants and raised an incredible $410,000!

NikkiNikki Mathieson graced Relay For Life with her steadfast determination, and her ability to find the right people for the right roles.  She took the lessons learned from her predecessors,  Fayandria Foley, Tayzia Abbatoir and MamaP Beerbaum and molded them into a vision of Relay that allows us all to Celebrate Remember and Fight Back as many teams walking together as one world!

Alliez_003Therefore, the Relay Rockers are honored and proud to present the 2014 Alliez Mysterio Award to Nikki Mathieson for her relentless dedication and enduring contributions to the Relay For Life of Second Life.

Trader Whiplash

I never had the honor to formally meet Alliez Mysterio before her passing, but I did have the immense pleasure to witness the outpouring of love and grief at her wake. And to witness her legacy by following the antics and effort the Relay Rockers since my involvement with Relay For Life of Second Life from 2011. The Relay Rockers are a dedicate group of warm, hard working and supportive people, that I am delighted to call family, as do for so many other on the grid do.

I had the pleasure to work with Dwen Dooley during my time on the committee during 2011 and 2012 seasons and there is no one person that I can think of, that has worked harder to make Relay For Life of Second Life the success it is today, by his creation of all the fundraising and promotional tool we have on the grid. Tools we are now being emulated as others grow Relay For Life of InWorldz in the foot steps of the tireless effort Dwen blazed. He is in my humbled option, the strongest candidate for the Relay For Life of Second Life Hall Of Fame and have no doubt what so ever, he will grace that special place of honor someday.

And Nikki Mathieson. She stands right next to MamaP Beerbaum was the two people I adore the most in Relay For Life of Second Life. When Nikki laughed, you laughed, when she cried, you cried. Need I say more?

Because of these people and groups mention in this article, and countless more all over Relay For Life of Second Life, that I will always smile warmly, when move on from all this and think back on my time with all these wonderful and amazing people, doing this thing we do for HOPE and the CURE. For they are all such wonderful people.

Life of Relay

The coffee finally waking me up from my first real life Relay, as a member of the Team Committee and was going to say my most moving Relay, but that’s not entirely true. Nothing as moving as one’s first Relay, especially if that Relay in a place, like Second Life.

We’ve joked and had serious talks about what makes RFLofSL so unique. The perfect weather, no bugs and mosquitoes, private kitchen and rest room steps away from the keyboard, with the “walk and talks” and never miss a beat, all the tools we have at our disposal, thanks to the like of the tech division and communications within Second Life groups IMs and notices, and just the endless creativeness of the grid, there are no real limits. As a newbie, pretty hard to have a more moving experience than a Relay For Life of Second Life, Relay.

But last night’s real life Relay For Life in a place called Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, I had my second most moving Relay.

Started by arriving 4 hours early to help set up, get everyone registered with the event kits and t-shirts, distributed to all the captains. With just over 70 teams to process with finalizing all their teams roster, funds raised, score cards tallies and goodies distributed, is one labor intensive process the virtual side doesn’t have. But it was amazing to meet all the captains face to face, after all the correspondence we’ve had.

Opening ceremony and survivors laps were delicious with everything I’ve come to know. I was struck by the fact our Relay was large enough, to field a full track of survivors and caregivers. I was a beautiful celebration in yellow. I kick myself for forgetting to take pictures, as I was too busy cheering and applauding all the survivors as they took the first lap. I was really was caught up in the moment.

Several busy hours later we arrive at the Luminaria Ceremony time, which for all of us, the roughest. We gather at the stage and are presented with a 40 person choir. They were amazing, wish I could share what they sang. They move off stage revealing the Empty Table Ceremony. This gets me excited, as I presented this ceremony to the committee during the planning stage; and they loved it. I gathered crowd loved it too, judging by their silence afterwards. After a thoughtful silence, the word is given to begin lighting the luminaries and the start of my longest hour.

Here is also a marked difference from the virtual of that in the virtual Relay, you know where you placed every single luminaria. I real life, with advanced luminaria sales, these were placed alphabetically around the track, intermixed with those of the team campsite. With my 19 advanced placed luminaries, I knew I had a lot of wandering to do. The first one I find, is in honor of my dad, I lose it. After a bit, I gather myself up and continue my quest, with a vague remembrance of all the people on my list. The lighting process begins with 15 minutes to give everyone a chance to find and light theirs; afterwards everyone fans out to light the remaining. I managed to get to about half of mine and a good number of the dearest ones, on both online and real side on my life, before the torch was past, to lit them all. I remember feeling sadden I could not get to all of them and rejoiced someone was caringly tending to them. VR never had that.

Over the next long while, well beyond the remaining of the Luminaria hour, I so slowly walk along that inside edge of the track, going around and around the track, from a to z, a to z, a to z, luminaria bags so numerous, they are right next to each other, in an endless procession. They are all there. Mothers, fathers, wife, husband, sons, daughter, uncles, aunts and grandparents, colleagues, lifelong friends and those that touch our lives, but for a brief moment; and never leave.

Sigh of relief, I find all of mine carefully tended to, but not surprised, I haven’t seen an unlit one in quite some time. After about the third or fourth lap on the inside track, I realized I was one of a group of people, circling the track, doing the Luminaria shuffle. Silently advancing, bit by bit, reading and reading, the outpouring of love, all mindful of each other, while the walkers are pacing their laps further out. After a bit, I find myself on that divide between the Luminaria shuffle lane and the walkers coming at me, just looking at all their faces. Right there, I could see it in their eyes that quiet connection of the soul.

IMG_0105

After a good number of laps with the walkers, I now find myself resting in tent, now no longer needed for Relay, alone with my thoughts and the cold. My thought wandered all over my Relay experience, Second Life, InWorldz, committee, captain, support and countless levels of volunteers roles, virtual Relay, organic Relay, American Cancer Society, Canadian Cancer Society, my indoctrination into the Relay, the representation of the day cycle of a Relay event, from daylight of health, through the darkenss of cancer and it’s treatment into the dawn of a new day of remission.

Last night’s Relay, I got cold. Far colder than the weather man predicted. We even had a light rain for a little bit in the wee hours, to add to the misery, when I realize how the unpredictable nature of weather, is the perfect symbolism, for all the unknowns and unpredictable nature of a cancer treatment. I never would have gotten that in the virtual Relay either.

I defy the cold, wind and dampness, and walk some more.

“Why I Relay” by Dawn Dreamscape

I have been a nurse since 1976. I remember the horrors of cancer therapy, outrageous, hideous, disfiguring surgery, chemotherapy that was almost as bad as the symptoms, radiation that left your very skin crawling. Watching as a young person, although a care-giver, I too felt at that time, a cancer diagnosis was a death sentence. I was afraid, and afraid to admit it. Each year I watched, people in pain, debilitated, left alone, sick, and disfigured die. They died as we sat holding their hands, comforting their loved ones. As therapy improved, and care turned to relief of a person’s symptoms,

I found my heart grow in compassion. I realized that no one had to suffer, no one had to be alone. Due to the efforts of the American Cancer Society, and Relay For Life, I see families supported and comforted, I am astonished in the research and treatment options now available, I now watch people return home when they receive therapy and treatment. Surgery is reconstruction rather than disfiguring. Even when a person goes beyond that help, they do not die in pain, and agony, the compassion of quality of life and peace in death has become the standard.

Passion, Determination, Fortitude

These are the words that come to my mind about Relay For Life in Second Life. I dedicate this effort of love to the women of the Tarrantino family, who all died of breast cancer, to my Grandfather George who died of throat cancer, to my Father, Keith who died of lung cancer that spread to brain cancer, and to my mother-in-law, Jean who died of lung cancer, and the endless list of friends who battle every single day to rid this world of cancer.

I Relay for HOPE. The HOPE that One Day We will beat cancer!! One linden will not win this battle, but together, mine and yours and theirs will!

DAWNBEAM DREAMSCAPE
Relayer since 1983
Quest for a Cure Member since 2008
RFL of SL Mentor 2012,
RFL of SL Coach Lead 2013

dad and the girls

Dad and the Girls

Many more Thank YOU

We would like to thanks everyone for the gifts in kind, to the Relay For Life of Second Life kiosk we placed out. Your generosity was very appreciated and touched us deeply.

Gazebo_001Panza and I, would also love to thank Kitty Gumbo for the lovely Victorian Gazebo which we finally placed at our home.

Staue2_001And another thank you to Still Braveheart for the inspirational Hope Guardian Angel.

Memorial Gardens at ACS Island

Memorial GardensPanza and Bain would like to share with you why this solemn, special place was chosen as the site of their wedding.

This is a place of memories, of love remembered and celebrated.

This place lives because of and for those that came before us all.

These are the memorials of mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and friends of people who have been touched by cancer, a cause which brought Panza and Bain together.

They come here to honor the memories of those lost as they begin their life together, and celebrate the many lives lived and being lived today because of advances in cancer research and treatment.

This tree before you is a representation of the coming together of people, made stronger by their unity, their commonality, their mutual strength that spreads past the bounds of this virtual world.

The two trunks, which sprouted as individuals, are now joined, growing stronger together, giving shelter to all who come here and showing that through many, strength only grows. That through celebrating life, through remembering those we have lost, we continue to fight back with the spread of love mimicked in the spread of the branches over us.

We gather here today, with a foot in the past and another in the future, while our hearts and minds are firmly rooted like this tree … in the present, to share in Panza and Bain’s happiness. We do this with  the spirits of our lost friends, who I know are smiling down upon us all.

This is a celebration of life both present and eternal.

VowsWe have so many people to thank, for making this day so very special for us. Catt Gable and Stingray Raymaker for the use of the beautiful Memorial Gardens, at the American Cancer Society Island. Queen MaiaCer Lysette for the use and her effort setting up the lovely reception area. Trader Whiplash for the use of the T1Radio stream. Aryon Dagger for officiating our ceremony. Sue Mowadeng for providing the entertainment for the reception. And lastly but no less important all our friends and family. You all made a special day, that much more special.