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"My goal has always been to provide hope and to inspire others."
I am a Relay For Life volunteer, a friend, a son, a Carer, a Survivor, a Cancer Council Victoria ambassador and a runner. I am and do many things, but the thread that weaves all of them together is Relay For Life.
In Australia, I’m known as “Mr Relay.” I was diagnosed with testicular cancer when I was 23, and given just six weeks to live. That was more than 35 years ago. Since participating for the first time at Australia’s inaugural Relay For Life event at Murrumbeena in 1999, I’ve taken part in nearly every Relay held in Victoria, even running the track at events in each State and Territory across Australia. In doing so, I’ve amassed over 54,000 laps, equalling over 20,000km while attending more than 415 Relays.
My goal has always been to provide hope and to inspire others. While Relay brings me great personal satisfaction, I didn’t realise the motivation that I trigger in others as they watch me circle the track. It’s here that I feel that I am making a small donation of spirit to other people’s hearts.
In 2012 I cared for my mother and father as they battled their cancers. Mum passed away after a four-week fight, and Dad also passed away shortly afterwards. So I’ve experienced the heartbreaking journey of being a Carer and a Survivor, and it gives me a great sense of honour and pride to wear my Carer and Survivor sashes as I run and walk around each Relay track.
When I was awarded as a Global Hero of Hope, I was surprised, humbled and overwhelmed with emotion from the recent loss of Mum and Dad, knowing that they weren't here to celebrate with me. Most of all, I felt extremely honoured to be able to share this Hero Of Hope award with several other Australian Relayers, and I feel privileged to help spread the cancer awareness message.
My greatest joy is to provide a hug and a kind word to fellow Survivors and Carers. Relay demonstrates our resolve to tough it out, even when we hear the words, “you have cancer”. When it’s 3am and it’s been raining for nine hours straight, there will still be walkers out on the flooded, muddy oval, determined to see it through. To me, that is the power of Hope that Relay brings to our communities. Relay is my life passion.
Always in our Fight Back,
Michael (Mr Relay)