Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.
I had the privilege of documenting this year’s community Pray for the Cure service this past September 8. I had photographed the event last year & was very much honored to do so again for the second year in a row. (To view last year’s service, click HERE.)
Pray for the Cure is a service open to the community. A time of prayer, music, reflection & encouragement occur for breast cancer survivors & fighters, their families & friends, & anyone else who would want to attend. The very first P4TC was first held in 2004 in Peoria, IL & the very first P4TC in Bloomington-Normal happened seven years later in 2011. “Pray for the Cure is sanctioned by Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It is meant to precede the Race as a spiritual and emotional care program,” P4TC’s facebook page states.
Since it was my second time capturing the event, when I walked into this year’s service, I recognized many faces from the previous year. As I prepared my camera settings for the evening & began to observe my surroundings I watched as people greeted each other & seats were found to sit in for the evening. From the solemness in the room, I knew in my heart that there were several faces who would not be joining us this year that had been there last year because their fight with cancer had ended.
The Pray for the Cure team always does a fantastic job in remembering those who have & are battling cancer. As people walked in before the night even, beautiful flute & harp music played by Sue Miller & Rex Moore filled the small auditorium. Barb Haab & Cheryl Peterson-Karlan, this years Co-Chairs of P4TC opened the evening.
Other special music was performed by LoriLee Dunahee & Amazon Women.
This year’s speaker was the inspiring & spirited Melissa J. Shrader, a two year breast cancer survivor. Melissa’s encouragement & testimony of victory was incredible! Her voice carried strength & her heart shared her story. All eyes were on her as she told her own journey & filled the audience with energy to fight & pray. Laughs were heard & tears were shed as Melissa spoke.
After Melissa spoke, it was soon time for the lighting of the candles.
A table with small, white unlit candles is set at the front of the auditorium. At this particular time of the evening, members of the audience are invited to come light a candle in remembrance of someone who has passed away from cancer. The front fills with individuals waiting to light a candle for their loved one. Individuals who have fought alongside their friend or family member, never expecting to ever have to light a candle of remembrance yet there they wait in line.
The room fills with a hushed respect. Tears are shed & whispers are heard through-out the room. Whispers of prayers & exchanged words with one another as candle after candle is lit.
After the Survivor Recognition & Litany of Prayer for Survivors, a closing blessing is given by Rev. Cheree Johnson. As heads bow across the auditorium to close the evening in prayer, the peace that is felt in the room is unmistakable as hearts have been united & encouraged.
One of my favorite parts of the evening are the many, many hugs exchanged throughout the evening. Arms holding each other. Long embraces. Hugs that are full of joy & others with heaviness. The days ahead are unknown but the Power we told hold of is not forgotten.
The wonderful team who put together this year’s service!
“I’ll pray for you, you pray for me. And together a miracle we’ll see.”