I attended the event late, due to clashing of my programme for the weekend. I have to attend a close friend’s wedding dinner in Cyberjaya. I had previously successfully registered for the RFL and paid online, and two days before the event I had received a call from NCSM secretariat to confirm my registration and that I could come to the event late. Ms Irene Yap would be at the stadium to attend to me. How nice.
I arrived at the NSC sports stadium in Bukit Jalil a little past midnight. I was spared the heavy shower drenching the event, celebrities and all. I had missed the main programme of lighting the Luminaria, doing the survivors/caregivers lap and the most meaningful walk with a survivor lap.
I reported to the registration for cancer survivors and was pleasantly surprised that the staff on duty was briefed of my late arrival. That augurs well for organizational efficiency, customer contact, PR and all that jazz. NCSM sure knows how to welcome a new client. I was warmly welcomed. The staff apologized that Ms Irene would not be able to attend to me, as she would most likely be at the Survivors Tent or had possibly left for home earlier.
I was given my goodies pack complete with my purple T shirt. I asked and was told that cancer survivors wore purple coloured T shirts, whilst yellow and blue and predesigned T shirts were for volunteers and all other participants. The pack had an entry wristband, a set for luminary, some cosmetics, a glow wristband and free RM10.00 cash coupons for the event. I had very mixed feelings when I donned my purple T shirt. A Relay For Life event was organized for people like me and I was informed that the RFL event is a world wide event originating from the US.
I was a bit disappointed with this year’s event, compounded by the unfortunate weather. Mainstream media had played up the hype. ASTRO TV included. I stared at the empty bitumen track in the stadium. No relay ? Event finished ? I was quickly informed that this year’s event could not be held in the stadium proper and hence it was relocated to the small training grass field adjacent to the track. A small patch of green grass like a primary school padang. A small circuit “track” was lined up for the relay and a main stage and camping tentages were set up around the “track”. The rain had stopped leaving behind a very messy, gloomy and muddy field.
I went straight to the Survivors Tent. It was empty of survivors. Ok, maybe they were still on the track with 10 of the 16 hours to go. I asked for Ms Irene Yap and was told that she had just left for home. Somebody paged for Ms Adeline who was on duty. Adeline introduced herself as a permanent staff of NCSM and also a survivor. She asked if I was a blogger, seeing some give away signs. I had my Nikon D200 round my neck and a camera bag on my shoulders. Typical profile. Adeline informed me that there was a special tentage over there for bloggers this year. No I said I am not a blogger per se, although I have a blog site where I share with my readership.
Adeline was the only other person wearing purple T Shirt late that night. All others had gone home to rest. We chatted for a while to get a feel of NCSM and the RFL event. NCSM could not organize a real relay without proper tracks and other race features. The next best thing was to make it out ala carnival, lap runs for survivors, celebrities and care givers. Singing on stage and telematch activities would be fun in the early hours of the morning.
I was jolted to life when I saw the big lighted sign HOPE and the Relay For Life balloon. Then I read Giving Hope and Celebrate Life in a poster. Yes Celebrate life. Life is not always a bed of roses. Life is a constant challenge. A muddy field will do as I reflect my school days playing ruck and muck with mud, making the perfect rugby game.
I went round the field taking photos and blended into the event. There was still a fairly big group of people in yellow T shirts walking round the “track”. Most participants were already grouping around their tents chit chatting in low voices or are already sleeping inside their tents. They were waiting for daybreak with Qi Gong demonstrations and to do the final laps of the relay.
I said Hello to all my subjects before I took their pictures. They had asked me to post my photos into Facebook. I told them that I’ll put them up in my blog Paceputrajaya.blogspot.com. I was indirectly promoting my blogsite as they jotted it down in their phones. Most had said “Uncle take again, tadi no flash.” I explained that I preferred no flash photos as they are more alive. I had maxed my ISO to 1600 and set lower White Balance. Photos should be OK, but I confess I am no professional photographer. Touch up can always be done after the picture was taken. Thanks to Photoshop and other photo programmes. I use Light Room 2.
Then I met “her”. He had smiled at me with the cutest pout and a voice to match. “Hi” he said cutely “Take my picture? I am from Damasara. These are my boyfriends”. Whew! I obliged and took “her” picture. I know I’ll have new followers in this blog from now on.
I had met many true and dedicated supporters in yellow T shirts. One had remarked that she was surprised that I wore a purple T shirt. “Uncle you should be resting at home”. They had sensed my tiredness, having just completed my radiotherapy sessions. It had really zapped up all my energy and left me feeling lethargic. I decided not to push myself too hard. There will always be another RFL next year. I will be more organized by them.
I bade goodnight to all and also to Adeline, promising to keep in touch. I then left for home.
Thank you all, for participating, and for being at RLF for us. Thank You NCSM. We are fighting back.
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