I’m not sure how many of my readers are involved in Relay For Life of Second Life (RFL of SL), but I have been in Second Life since March 2007 and this year will not only be my 10th year as a survivor of breast cancer but also my 5th Relay For Life in Second Life.
The first time I literally stumbled upon Relay For Life was July 2007 and I was not involved in it in any way other than landing on the track and seeing what the event was and deciding that I was going to walk. As I walked, I listened to conversations around me, snippets of chat about ‘lindens raised’ and ‘campsites’. As I continued to walk, I tried to take in as much as I could and I realized I was hooked.
I was amazed that all these people were walking round and round, had built all the wonderous scenes and were working hard to raise money for finding a cure for cancer. I came into Second Life for a few reasons, one of which was to try and learn to accept my physical appearance. You see, back in 2001 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and within three months of being diagnosed, I had a double radical mastectomy … and no counselling. I hated the scars that stretched across my chest and I hated that everyone, or so I had come to believe, thought I was a thing.
Anyway, back to my walking …
I continued around the ‘track’ and off to the left I spied someone who appeared to be DJing. This someone was Trader1 Whiplash. Our first meeting, as Trader and I like to remember ‘fondly’was not such a good one. I was angry at the world and everyone in it, but for a moment, that anger had side-stepped and here I was asking this DJ if he could play a request for me. “Something special for all the people taking the time to walk the track” was what I said. Trader said he couldn’t do that because he was getting ready to do the closing ceremony … as a fellow DJ, I should have understood, but as an angry cancer survivor, I didn’t. I exploded verbally, but lucky for me, Trader shrugged it off and took me under his wing introducing me to Committee members, Sponsors and Team members. I ended up attending the closing ceremony of “Quest for a cure” and I ended up in tears.
I was utterly and totally hooked and I had to get involved. I was introduced to Poppy Zabelin and Synergy Devonshire who worked with the Survivor group and I joined. I was asked to give speeches to various groups about my ‘journey’ and in October 2007, I organized and hosted an event which I called “Big Pink” in aid of breast cancer awareness and research. This event intentionally involved the two largest and longest running all females sims, Mysteria and Isle of Lesbos, bringing the ‘rivals’ together in the name of helping others. In two days, L$1,000,000 was raised from auctions, combined DJ tips, games, T-shirt sales and donations. I even made trophies for each sim to display based on the pink breast cancer ribbon.
In 2008, I got a bit more involved with RFL of SL “Heroes” and during this involvement I had the honour of meeting Artistic Fimicoloud. Fimi as she was known to her friends was best known as a little pink fox and outside of Second Life was an amazing artist by the name of Stephanie Koslow. I was so impressed by her pieces of art and the first time we met was at her gallery grand opening. Fimi lost her battle with metastatic breast cancer on May 26th, 2008 and I came up with the idea of holding an event to celebrate her life. With the help of several people including Synergy Devonshire and Forsythia Wishbringer (of the Elven Lands), the event was held with donations in Fimi’s name going into kiosks along with DJ tips. In honour of Fimi, I joined the RFL of SL team ‘Passionate Redheads’. I remember going to the Clothing Fair (March) in a dress and having my picture taken with Fimi. The fondest memory and sadly the last that I have regarding Fimi was one day on ACS (American Cancer Society) Island. We had attended a meeting and were chatting at the end and Fimi gave me a hug. She commented that one day someone her own size was going to give her a hug and she would be happy. I went into ‘edit appearance’ mode and made my avatar the same size as her and then gave her a hug back. This hug was captured in a photograph which I still cherish and Fimi was both amazed and happy … so was I … for bringing a smile to her face. This was the first Relay that I walked a Survivor’s Lap in … with Angelika.
The 2009 relay season found me as captain of my own team, the Angelryon Saloon Dawgs. Captain … I’m not sure the title suited me … I’m not really a natural leader but we managed to finish relay as a ‘gold’ team. I was asked to read the ‘Purple Cape’ story at the Fight Back ceremony too and little did I know then how it would affect me. I was also given the opporotunity to DJ on relay weekend. That was a huge honour for me being reunited through T1 Radio and working for Trader. I seem to remember we had quite a crowd dancing at my gig. Our campsite was fun to build and exemplefied our vision of the relay theme … “One World, One Hope”.
Relay For Life 2010 saw the Saloon Dawgs merging with Spirit of Relay and all of us “Wishing for a cure”. The campsite was based on the song ‘Stars’ which was written and sung by Greyson Michael Chance. This year I was so honoured to have been asked to be the production manager for T1 Radio over the relay weekend and I also DJd. Having taken part in the Fight Back ceremony in 2009, I was asked to do so again and I read the ‘Purple Cape’ story again. 2010 was a special year for me in that I walked not one but two survivor’s laps in one day. The first one was my city’s RFL and the second was in Second Life (note* I was hoping to do the same again this year, but there will be no RFL in my city). I was the head DJ for what ended up being the last Clothing Fair and also DJd at the Fantasy Faire, both events filling my calendar for the duration of each and I thouroughly enjoyed myself.
Relay for Life 2011 is a landmark relay for me. I will be celebrating my 10th year as a survivor and my 5th RFL of SL. I count 2007 even though I stumbled upon it because if I had not done so, who knows how my days in Second Life would have turned out. So far, I have DJd at Fashion For Life, taken part in the Makeover Magic Alumni Fashion show, was head DJ of Fantasy Faire and will be T1 Radio’s production manager again this year as well as … I hope … DJing over the relay weekend and taking part in the Fight Back ceremony. But while I am honoured to have taken part in ALL of these events, the surprise, for me, of them all was being asked by Katina Magic to help kick off RFL of SL 2011 “Seasons of Hope”. I threw a tail-gate party in the middle of BOSL stadium and it was exciting and amazing for me to be able to take part.
Now, let me get to the REAL reason for writing this … as many of my followers will know, my partner Angelika found out in November 2010 that she had a tumour and I flew to Prague to help with the running of the household. After months … well actually 5 months of waiting impatiently for doctors to remove it, they finally set a date and I went to Prague again. The tumour was removed and biopsies showed it was benign (thank goodness), so this relay I am not only a survivor, I am a caregiver as well. I decided to write this to apologize to all the Committee and Relayers for my lack of participation this year. I would have loved to attend the events, worked with the teams and DJd, but sometimes there comes a time when “real life” kicks us in the butt and we have to make space for it. As much as I would have loved being in Second Life and raising awareness, spirit and money, I would have gone crazy if I could not have been with Angelika when she needed me. She has always been there for me since we met in November 2007. She has shown me that I may not be perfect, but I am not a thing, my scars are part of me and they helped make me who I am today. She picks me up when I fall emotionally and has shown me that being angry at the world proves nothing.
So to my relaying family and friends I say thank you, for understanding that I may not actually be there with you, but I am there in spirit until I can get back into Second Life again. Thank you for all you are doing and remember … until there is a cure … we must relay.