New Numbers

Yesterday, SUNY Geneseo hosted its 13th annual Relay for Life fundraiser. I walked in expecting to stay the hour to fulfill my obligation to my lacrosse team. I did not know, however, that I would walk out in tears, reminded how short life is, and just how much of an impact a person can make.

When I was just a baby, my father was diagnosed with cancer. My mother, her hands full with two young boys and now a newborn, was forced to find strength within her I’m not sure she knew she had. For months he battled and underwent rigorous treatments that cause him to still endure the side effects to this day.

During the time I spent at Relay, Geneseo’s President, Dr. Battles, made a moving speech. She mentioned how a family member had battled cancer and wrote a blog series throughout her journey. One particular entry she quoted was entitled “Numbers.” It discussed how everything in life seems to be in terms of numbers. But now, with cancer, numbers took on a whole new meaning. They were no longer birthdays, or days until Christmas, but doses for her treatments, or how many days since she was diagnosed.

I started to think about strength in numbers.

More and more it seems that everything in life revolves around other people. Everything is a partnership, and nothing is accomplished alone, no matter how much we wish it could be. When we started our group writing project in our INTD class, I was uncomfortable. I could even say angry. With so many different thoughts, personalities, and opinions, I truly did not see how a group could actually put together a coherent piece of writing. I’m glad to say I was proven wrong.

Every class, new perspectives are taken, points are made, and truthfully, most of it I would never have come up with on my own. I find myself agreeing with almost everything my peers say, and easily incorporating it all together without much struggle. I think back to the beginning of this year. “Form study groups,” I’d heard countless times as a biology major first semester. I resisted, firmly believing only I could be the one to teach myself the material and others would “weigh me down.” Now I wonder if I would’ve gotten better grades if I had listened.

I think we all, as students, believe that these partnerships are scary and possibly unnecessary at times. Though, my opinion is certainly starting to change. As a Geneseo community, Relay was able to raise over $145,000. Greek organizations, sports teams, local businesses, friends and family all came together to raise money for a common goal. Each did their part, and were willing to help in any way they could. Our dance team put on performances at the event, speakers came in to tell their stories, and other groups sold food. Survivors talked about how important support was from their loved ones. It was how they got through it. Volunteers worked with strangers to raise the most money they could until 4 am, when most college students would rather be catching up on sleep.

All different, but all working for the same goal. Maybe it’s truly our partnerships that can finish this “numbers game” with cancer, once and for all.

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