Posted on 06 June 2012 by Keith Lacey
When Elida Martin lights the luminary and thinks of her mother during the traditional minute of silence during the annual Relay for Life, the tears flow freely as she thinks about “the person who meant the most to me in this world … she was my best friend and I miss her so much.”
Even during an interview about her passion for the Relay for Life – which takes place in Osoyoos on Saturday, June 23 at Gyro Park – Martin’s eyes well up as she talks about her mother, Dora Amoroso, who passed away on August 31, 2006 at age 72 after a hard battle against cancer.
“I really, really miss my mom,” said Martin, who is acting as team development co-ordinator for the 2012 Relay for Life in Osoyoos. “She has been gone almost six years and I still don’t think I’ve really dealt with the fact she’s gone and not coming back.
“I honestly don’t know if I will ever get over it, but I do know God knows what he’s doing and is looking after her and I know I will get to see her again one day. She was the best thing that ever happened to me. She was my role model, my best friend, my travel partner and my mom and I miss her very much.”
The devastation caused by cancer runs deep as she also lost her grandmother on her mother’s side, grandfather on her father’s side and two uncles to the dreaded disease, said Martin.
“Besides my mom, I’ve lost quite a few other family members to cancer and I’ve also lost a few very good friends as well,” she said. “Everyone knows it’s a horrible disease, but my family has been hit particularly hard and it’s tough to deal with at times.”
Martin and her husband moved to Osoyoos seven years ago from Port Coquitlam after she came to take care of her mother, who had lived here for many years.
“I was her caretaker over the last year-and-a-half of her life,” she said. “I was glad to have that time with her. My husband and I learned to really like Osoyoos, so we decided to stay here after she passed away.”
Because cancer has played such a significant role in her life, Martin said she decided to get involved in the Relay for Life three years ago. She joined the team called Friends With Hope, led by team captain and good friend Fran Gilders, and has had a wonderful time participating in the event ever since.
Her first experience with the Relay for Life will remain in her heart and memories for the rest of her life, she said.
“You feel like everybody there is a friend with each other because everyone there has been touched by cancer,” she said. “Everyone cheers everyone on and you can just feel the positive spirit in the air.
“It’s like all of the loved ones we have lost are there with us during that special evening and it feels so right. It was a very emotional evening for me that first time and I will never forget it. It was magical. I was instantly hooked and knew I would be involved forever after that night. We also had the most teams ever and raised the most money ever in Osoyoos, so it was nice to be part of that as well.”
Her job as team development co-ordinator for this year’s event is to try and get as many teams – and participants – involved as possible and keep them informed about the event, she said.
The response so far this year has been very good, but she’s hoping to get several more teams signed up in the next three weeks before the actual relay begins at noon on June 23, she said.
While the entire relay is an amazing experience, things get really emotional when the luminaries are lit and the moment of silence is held to remember all those who have lost their battle against cancer, said Martin.
“There are a lot of tears, but a lot of good memories too,” she said.
Participating in the Relay for Life is one of the highlights of her summer and she’s looking forward to the big event on June 23, she said.
The only thing that would make her happier than participating is discovering a cure for cancer has been found and events like this would not be needed to raise money for cancer research, she said.
“I’m really looking forward to the day when we don’t have to have a Relay for Life and cancer is a thing of the past,” she said. “I don’t think there could be anything better in life than that.”