Why I Relay – Ruby Tuesday

This year, for the first time, Alexandria’s media have joined together to fight cancer and raise money for the American Cancer Society. The Echo Press, KIKV-FM / Cool 94.3, and KXRA are now teammates as the Media Matters team for this year’s Relay for Life. Cancer has affected all of us deeply, and we hope by working together, we can really make a difference. 

“Close your eyes.
Have no fear.
The monster’s gone,
he’s on the run, and your Daddy’s here”

My Dad turned 30 a few months after John Lennon died. I remember him telling me that when John died, he really felt like he wasn’t a kid anymore. That was it. Harsh reality set in.

My Dad died a few months after I turned 30. I was lucky to have my Dad as long as I did – some people don’t have that luxury. At the same time, I wasn’t ready. Somewhere in the 14 years since he died, I’ve had to accept that I’m not a kid anymore.

Dad and me in 1979.

It might surprise you to learn that my Mom and Dad didn’t name me Ruby Tuesday. No, I’m a regular person, with a regular non-Rolling Stones name. I’m Heather, and my Dad and Mom are Jim and Jean. We moved to Alexandria in 1984. My Dad was a talented photographer and our family owned and operated Vernon Studio in downtown Alexandria for many, many years. If you got married in the area or had your Senior photos taken, or was a baby, or in a family photo, it’s likely that you met my Dad.

He loved bringing out the best in people. He loved bringing out the best in YOU.

Dad made sure I had a strong education in the Beatles.  In the car, we would listen to the Beatles and Dad would quiz me: “Which Beatle is singing here?”.  This was important stuff.  

My Dad was great. 

He had a seizure in July of 2004, and that was most certainly not part of the plan.

I remember sitting in a doctor’s office with Mom and Dad when we learned that the outlook was not good.

Glioblastoma Multiformae is an aggressive form of brain cancer with a median survival rate of 11 to 15 months. In the end, my Dad survived for 6 months.

Dad’s last day of fishing.

I am doing the Relay for Life because much more research needs to be done. Glioblastoma’s median survival rate hasn’t changed in the 14 years since Dad died.

Not long after my Dad died, my co-worker and friend, Sheri Fermoyle’s Dad was diagnosed with cancer and eventually died. While you were listening to the Oldies on the radio, Sheri and I were standing in the Cool 94.3 studios, talking about our Dads, and how we missed them. We talked about how much this all sucked, and our disbelief that this could all be true. We would cry and hug, and then I would get it together and sound cheery on the radio. It was hard. It’s still hard, but we’re both stronger now. We had to be. We’re not kids anymore.

Late last year, when Sheri mentioned the idea that local media was going to team up for a Relay Team, I KNEW I was all in. The Echo Press, KXRA, and KIKV/Cool all do things separately to give back to our community. Cancer, though. Cancer is daunting. But together, we can make a difference. Together, we are strong.

Even after all these years, I’ll still think of something and think “I need to tell Dad…”. See, not having my Dad around was not part of the plan. But that’s the thing. As John Lennon said:

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

I hope that you will plan to join Media on a Mission for the relay on Friday, July 12 and I hope that you will donate. Please click here to donate to our team. 

Together, we will make a difference.  

 

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