Relay For Life: A Local Family’s Story

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.  At this time last year, 12-year old Dylan Samole’s baseball team was readying to participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event in Pinecrest, FL.  His father, Shane Samole, was on a business trip for EB Excalibur, his electronic game, RC vehicle and executive gift manufacturing company.  He bumped his side on the plane’s armrest and felt more pain than he should.  A few days later he was diagnosed with stage one Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was quickly put under the knife.

On the day of last year’s event, just a few weeks after his surgery, the Samole family was reeling from the effects of cancer.  Still, Dylan, his sister Brooke (age 15), and mother Susan, participated in the Relay For Life event.  Shane was too worn from his chemo to attend.  It also happened to be the day that his hair fell out.

Brooke, now 16, explains, “The concept of Relay For Life is that cancer never sleeps, so the event is 24-hours and requires that teams get formed so at least one person from each team is always walking the event circuit.”  In recognition and dedication to her father, Brooke volunteered to start and co-manage a team (The Little Mermaids) for this year’s Relay For Life.

Thousands of candles lit in the Luminaria Ceremony held at Evelyn Greer Park on 2/25/12 @ 9PM

Shane’s father died of lung cancer in 2000, so the family had memories of what cancer could do.  Brooke was overwhelmed with emotion during the 2011 Luminaria Ceremony.  “I have only cried at one movie, but I teared up because of Luminaria.  The lit candles touched my emotions.  My dad told me he wasn’t going to die, but it was still on my mind.”

Sure, like any father, Shane tried to shield and protect his kids from the darkest thoughts he had about his cancer.  “You’re not thinking a year in advance.  What you’re really thinking is ‘That’s it.  I’m done.’”  Brooke remembers, “He was always strong.  He never cried or felt sorry for himself.”  As anyone would expect, behind the scenes it did take a toll.  Cancer is oddly both difficult and enriching at the same time.

“In a weird way, I became more thankful for things,” remembers Brooke. “The family became closer and more understanding of each other because we had to rally around my Dad.  My mom did the most.  She not only took my dad to chemo treatments, but never missed a beat taking me and my brother to our events.”

“During the bad chemo days, you feel helpless.  But you gotta move, you gotta try. I didn’t want to be a burden and to have my kids see me that way.”  Shane and his family endured chemo and radiation sessions through July 2011. By October, tests revealed he was in complete remission.  “So God bless, it’s exciting that I’m alive and here today,” remarked Shane.

Brooke and Shane Samole hug at Relay For Life 2012

Sometimes, good things result from a journey.  For Brooke, Shane, Susan and Dylan Samole, the 2012 Relay For Life was a poignant and moving time.  Shane summed it up best, “Everyday you remind yourself, hey, you know what… I’m alive today.  And you do things more personally, especially with my kids.”

You can get involved with Relay For Life by visiting http://relayforlife.orgGet inspired by the commercial for the event by watching this now...