Local resident relaying to support others battling cancer
Sharon Briscoe is the chairwoman for the Valley Center Relay for Life. She has been affected by cancer multiple times in her life through family members and close friends.
May 14, 2014Editor's note: As Relay for Life of Valley Center approaches, we at the Valley Roadrunner thought it would be interesting to hear stories from those affected by cancer to give everyone in the community a better understanding of how cancer affects a patient and the families that love them. This week, Relay For Life of Valley Center marketing chair shares her story of how she became involved in the event. We continue to look for stories from anyone who has been affected by cancer and invite readers to share them with us by sending an email to email@example.com for publication in a future issue.
In 2011 Sharon Briscoe, a four year resident of Valley Center, was introduced to Relay For Life by a business associate in Escondido. Once she heard her new hometown was hosting an event, she decided to attend and the rest was history.
"I attended the event and was inspired by the commitment of just a few people to get Relay going in our community," said Briscoe who is volunteering as the community-marketing chairperson for this year's event. "I served as Event Chair for 2012 and 2013 and have seen our committee evolve to over 20 members. This year we have 17 teams participating."
Briscoe said she and her husband of 33 years were looking for a retirement home when they relocated to Valley Center after raising their family in Poway.
"We have always been involved in our community and I think Doug was looking forward to a nice quiet transition. We had set a goal that we would retire in 2017," she said. "Then one day I walked in and said we have to get involved in our community and I think the Relay For Life is what I would like to do."
Briscoe says the couple was first affected by cancer when Doug's father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
"In 2007, our family heard the words 'you have cancer,'" she said. "Doug's Dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Unfortunately, this is a type of cancer that is typically not found in the early stages. I was at the hospital with him for his testing and one of the radiologists called me into his office to show me his scan. Harold was literally lit up like a Christmas tree; it was stage four and had invaded other organs and bone."
Doug came to the hospital with the couple's two children, Megan and Brent, and Harold's doctor gave him the news.
"Harold lived with us at the time, so we all decided he would come home and hospice would be set up," Briscoe said. "We did not know how much time we would have, but his doctor told us to enjoy the time and have good conversations. I could not understand how just one short year ago he had a physical and other testing so that we could plan his hip replacement and now our family was face to face with cancer.
"In just a few short weeks he peacefully passed away in our home surrounded by love and the hospice nurses who helped cared for him and who were a wonderful support to all of us. I refer to them now as angels on earth. I will never forget the compassion that they had for their patient and for us."
Doug is team captain of "Team Briscoe" in honor of his father.
"Doug also Relays for his lifelong friend and college roommate Kent that passed away last year of prostate cancer," Briscoe said. "Kent's wife and I worked at a hospital together in northern California. She introduced Doug and I. Our lives were once again touched by cancer."
Briscoe, who works fulltime in the healthcare industry, enjoys spending time with her family as a pastime.
"We have been doing a fair amount of travel the last few years," she said, noting her daughter Megan lives in Tennessee with her husband and two children. Brent currently resides in Washington where he attends helicopter pilot school.
"Any spare time that we have had was always focused around our children. We volunteered as coaches and participated on the Poway Soccer Board for over 10 years," she said. "I enjoy the beach, swimming, reading, scrapbooking, going to the movies, dinners with friends and planning the next trip to see the grandkids."
Briscoe said her husband supports her in all her endeavors. He was in the background during that first relay, but after attending a Luminaria ceremony honoring both those who have lost their battle and those who currently battle the disease at the San Marcos Relay, he too was bitten by the Relay For Life bug.
"After the ceremony and walking around the track he said, 'I get why you are doing this,'" she said.
Briscoe is happy to report that Relay For Life of Valley Center continues to grow each year, reflecting the individuality of the community that comes out in huge numbers to support the cause.
"In 2011, Relay For Life Valley Center raised just over $2,000 and had approximately 50 participants. In 2012, we raised $58,000 and had over 500 participants. In 2013, we raised more than $85,000 and had over 750 participants," she said. "The goal for the 2014 Relay For Life is $100,000 and over 1,000 participants."
Briscoe said every year she is pleased to see so many members of the community come together to help in the fight against cancer.
"Valley Center is a very generous community and so many have chosen to be on the committee, be team captains, sponsor the event, or volunteer in some way to make our event one of the top Relays in California," she said. "Every dollar that is raised at Relay For Life events is used to fund research and provide programs and services. The generosity of our community makes a huge difference as we take on the fight against cancer."
Relay For Life of Valley Center will be held at Bates Nut Farm on June 21 beginning at 9 a.m. The 24-hour event will honor survivors, memorialize those who have lost their battle, and provide the opportunity to come together for a worthy cause. For more information, to donate, or to register a team, visit RelayForLife.org and search for Valley Center or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.