Jan Sedory has learned this about cancer: It’s not about the fight.
The fight wears you down, she said, but with acceptance, you’re armed to go the distance.
That was the message she brought, as a survivor, to the 2012 Greater Brandon Relay For Life at Brandon High School, held overnight April 14-15.
Sedory wore the purple shirt of a survivor and attended the event with her colleagues from Limona Elementary School, where Sedory has been a teacher for 18 of her 32 years in education.
It’s been almost eight years since Sedory said she was surprised by doctors when they told her she not only had cancer but that it was already at an advanced stage.
“I didn’t let it seem like a death sentence,” she said. “I went back to work. I didn’t dwell on it, 'poor me.' I think that attitude has helped me.”
Sedory has reoccurring ovarian cancer and it has come back once since her initial diagnosis.
At last weekend’s Relay For Life, she took time to discuss her life with cancer, in the survivor’s tent, ready to cut another slice of cake for another survivor.
“When people say to me, ‘You’re always such a fighter,’ I think that’s not what it takes, fighting wears you down,” she said. “It makes you tired and worn.”
Better to build from a position of acceptance, she said.
“I have to take this for what it is and do what I have to do to get through it,” Sedory said. “That’s what life is. There’s not a person here who won’t have to go through it at some point or another, with cancer or some other disease or some life-changing event. That's what makes life what it is, you have your high's and you have your low's."
Her team from Limona Elementary School was strong in number and rich in spirit as the Relay For Life got under way with cool temperatures on a clear Saturday night.
Sedory talked about Limona, as a school that consistently has earned an A grade from the state. The school serves a diverse student body from a close-knit neighborhood and enjoys strong PTA support, she added.
The school’s strong sense of community carried over as a plus for Sedory as well, she said, as her colleagues rallied to her cause.
“When I was sick they brought me meals,” she said. “They helped out with anything I needed when I was gone.”
Walking the survivor's lap at the American Cancer Society's annual Relay For Life is something Sedory looks forward to each year.
The Relay For Life, “doesn’t just focus on one type of cancer, it focuses on so many,” she said, adding that it supports not only the search for a cure but also the needs of people with cancer, including wigs for cancer patients when they lose their hair and transportation if they need it to attend medical appointments.
Camaraderie is key, Sedory said, and the Relay For Life provides one such heaping dose of effort.
So much so that Sedory said, “I would love to see more survivors come out for the Relay.”
The Brandon Relay For Life is one of six relays in Eastern Hillsborough County. The 2012 season kicked off with relays at Armwood, Newsome and Riverview high schools, followed a week later by events at Brandon and Bloomingdale high schools. The Plant City Relay For Life is scheduled for April 20-21. The SouthShore Relay For Life was held April 14-15 at Lennard High.