Two years ago my wife spent most of July in the recliner in our basement family room. Half of that time was spent sleeping. She would come upstairs now and then to eat something. We went for a few little walks around the block but those didn't last very long. Every couple of days she would venture out to her garden that a friend was tending for her. She also came upstairs once or twice a day so I could empty and measure the fluid in her drains. The house was very quiet. Our three kids spent all of this time at both of our parents houses. This was what life was like as she recovered from her bilateral mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer. It was one of the most painful times of her life and chemotherapy had not even started yet.

Those were the things I was thinking about as Crystal, Jackie, Rockley, Esia, and I made our way around the course during the survivor lap at the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life on Friday night.

I had not forgotten that time in our lives but I had not thought about it in quite a while. At least not with any great detail. Sure, I had recalled little things here and there. But I had not thought of what the every day was like. The little things. Why would I? It certainly wasn't fun. It was much more than not fun for Crystal.

Andy Erickson

As I looked ahead at all of the other purple-clad survivors and their caregivers I saw parts of their stories without even knowing their names. I saw spouses, children, friends, or other loved ones marching alongside their hero. I imagined them posting updates on Facebook or Caring Bridge, emptying drains, giving a sponge bath, or acting as a walker.

Andy Erickson

The American Cancer Society is a huge help to those battling cancer. Crystal went to the "Look Good, Feel Better" class they put on and learned from cosmetologists how do her make up when she had no eye brows or lashes. They help people with rides to and from appointments if they don't have someone to drive them home. There are tons more programs that help people immensely. If you're ever looking for a great place to give, American Cancer Society of South Dakota is a great place.

Crystal's hair hasn't been cut since she finished treatment and rang the bell. It's a little darker and a little curlier than before. Overall she's doing great. And she also now serves on the board for American Cancer Society of South Dakota.

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