The American Cancer Society will host its 22nd annual Relay For Life of Greater Waterbury on June 4 – 5, 2016.  After spending several years at Crosby High School, the event will be moving to Frisbie Elementary School on Todd Road in Wolcott this year.  People often wonder why they should participate in the Relay For Life.  Cindy Hespelt, of the team Jay’s East Enders, shares her family’s reason to Relay…

    “Our Family has participated in the Relay For Life of Greater Waterbury since 2011. We Relay in memory of our Mom, Janice “Jay” Hespelt and so many families like ours.

   My Mom was diagnosed with cancer on October 7, 2010. We were told it was cancer; it took another two and a half weeks and 2 bone biopsies to determine it was breast cancer. We spent 23 days at the hospital. Every morning I would arrive at the hospital at 6am so I could be in my Mom’s room when the doctors came by for rounds. Mom was in a great deal of pain and on a lot of pain meds. Most mornings I was joined by one or both of my sisters after they dropped their children at school.  We wanted to be sure we were there to hear the doctor’s report because Mom wasn’t well enough to remember or ask questions. The updates were about her current labs, test results or new tests or medications to be administered.  While we tried to remain optimistic, that update could completely take away your focus for the rest of the day and/or nauseate you with worry.  

    One of my sisters would stay for the morning while the rest of us went to work. My Dad would relieve my sister and spend most of the afternoon with her. We would all return after work to bring Dad dinner and hear what new information or next steps needed to be taken.

   Often the Doctors or Nurses asked us questions and if you weren’t there when something did or didn’t happen you weren’t sure. We began taking anecdotal notes for the different activities of Mom’s day. We tracked them on a calendar we left in her room. This way any of her 4 children or my Dad could record or read notes based on the time and activities of their time with Mom.

   I remember one Saturday afternoon looking out the hospital window while Mom “slept.” I watched the blue sky, looked at the trees beginning to change colors and traffic with people moving about their day. I wondered how life could keep going on when we and so many others are here in the hospital in life limbo, waiting. Waiting for good news, the test results, the next transfusion, the doctor, the next round of meds, for Mom to wake up, for the nurse, for a family member to arrive…waiting, wondering, worrying. This is the life of a caregiver.

   We lost our Mom on November 1, 2010. We attended our first Relay kick off meeting 10 weeks later. At that meeting, we met families like ours and heard their stories; families who also sat by the window worried and waiting.

   We will honor and celebrate Mom again this year at the Relay on June 4, 2016 at Frisbee School in Wolcott. We will also celebrate friends and family surviving cancer. Come by and say hello and help us finish the fight against cancer.”

   How about starting your own team with your family and friends?  Visit the Relay For Life of Greater Waterbury website at and start your team today. It’s free to register and extremely easy to kick off your fundraising right from the website. Team Captains are invited to our monthly meetings on the third Wednesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Prospect Fire Department located on New Haven Road in Prospect.  For more information, contact ACS Community Manager, Amber Dunphy, at 203-379-4738 or by email at  Business sponsorships are also welcome!  Contact Amber to find out how your business can become a Relay For Life of Greater Waterbury sponsor.