Spotlight on Sandie Loxingly Slate
The Relay Refresh RoadTrip was on the road again to Macon, Georgia, home of the Allman Brothers Band Museum, to visit with Sandie Loxingly Slate, Co-Chair with Leala Spire-Marchant of the 2018 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event in Second Life. Sandie told us her family owned a furniture store in the area and that she remembers a childhood story of when Cher was married to Greg Allman, who recorded with Capricorn Music based in Macon, and the two of them coming in and buying furniture for their house at her family’s store.
Born and raised in Macon, her southern roots are quite evident in both her voice and her pleasant disposition. A two time cancer survivor, Sandie has also been a caregiver and was recently chosen to be the team lead for the Hope Haven Service Team on ACS Island, bringing a fresh perspective to providing support to more cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers in Second Life.
Sandie keeps up with all things Relay and MSABC with her Windows 7 desktop computer and her iPhone 6s. She first heard about Second Life in 2004 while working in a public library and attending a conference where she discovered that universities, public libraries & businesses were interested in the possibilities with this new world. She told us she came home and “downloaded the program because she worked with teenagers and was curious”.
But it was not until 2010, after being “involved in Yahoo chat rooms about books and literature”, that she became active in Second Life. She was living in Vidalia, Georgia at the time, widowed with two children, and it was “a way she could stay home and interact with people”. During her first year she logged in sporadically, until she convinced a friend from Yahoo to come inworld and help her get acclimated to Second Life. Together they learned how to walk and change clothes and she told us she “still has to have open spaces and still walks into walls”.
When the conversation turned to music, we were not surprised that her hometown Allman Brothers were both her favorite group and sang her favorite song, Soul Shine. She told us she is a “southern rock band kinda girl” and counts Wet Willie, an American band from Mobile, Alabama, as one of her favorites. Murder mysteries are her favorite type of TV and she loves "procedurals", a genre of TV program in which a problem is introduced, investigated and solved all within the same episode and same hour.
Sandie told us she has 86,281 items in her inventory and just about everything makes her laugh. Her philosophy is that “in life you can either cry or laugh, and laughing is so much better”. Her 21 year old son and 24 year old daughter are her go to conversations when she needs a laugh or two. She told us “they are always there to help me laugh things off”.
When asked about her hero, Sandie told us about her grandmother. She was diagnosed with breast cancer when Sandie was 16 years old and she helped care for her. After having a mastectomy and surviving cancer for 21 years, her grandmother passed away from complications from a mini stroke. She told us her grandmother was never a “poor pitiful me” type of person, instead choosing to go “on with her life and live it to the fullest”.
Sandie was introduced to Relay For Life in Second Life in 2011, when she saw it listed on the SL splash screen as she was logging in. It was Relay Weekend and she visited the sims and was excited about what she saw. She had been involved in Relay in real life for a number of years, but did not know about its existence in SL. She was introduced to MSABC at the club where she was hosting and managing, when one of the DJ’s was talking about MSABC. They held a few MSABC events at the club and she joined her first Relay team, Life’s Angels, that fall.
After a few years, Sandie formed her own team, Love Life Relay. She joined the Relay Volunteers group as well as the MSABC group, and since 2014 she has been a part of the MSABC Committee. In 2016 she joined the Dreamwalkers RFL Team and has been Relaying with them ever since. Also, since 2016, Sandie has been a Co-Lead of MSABC, along with Leala Spire-Marchant.
Sandie’s participation in Relay and MSABC is very personal to her. Sandie lost her husband to cancer in 2007. She also lost her mother to lung cancer in 2014. And her Grandmother’s battle and survival are still part of Sandie’s memories. Sandie is herself a 2 time cancer survivor. She was first diagnosed in 2007 and was cancer free for nearly 10 years. Her latest battle started in September 2017 and finished earlier this week when she had her last radiation treatment. When we asked her how she found the strength to be so active in SL, she said she has been “a volunteer her entire life”. It is just what she does.
Sandie has been both a survivor and a caregiver. When we asked her which was harder she said “in some ways the caregiver is the harder job, you can not break down.” She remembers caring for her mother during the last three weeks of her life. It was “so hard… you have to be on... supportive... responsive…. you can not think about yourself... you need to understand what you are doing and why…”
Sandie sees herself as more of a caregiver person. She told us that when she was recovering from chemo side effects, “it was really hard to ask for help”. She is used to helping others, not being the one asking, and it was especially hard for her to reverse the roles and ask her kids for help. Sandie is so passionate about caregiving that in 2017 their Relay campsite focused on caregivers and their stories.
Currently, Sandie is quite busy preparing for MSABC which will be held during the month of October. The MSABC series of events will feature 5 different ways that you can use your Second Life to fight breast cancer.
The five committee planned events include:
Breast Cancer Gala
10/27/18 from 2pm-5pm SLT
For more information about any of the events please visit their website at:
We had a great time visiting with Sandie and as we were wrapping up we asked her If you could say one thing to Relayers what would it be? She quickly replied, “Stay on top of your screenings and if something does not feel right, let your doctor know. You are your first line of defense and you need to understand what your doctor says is going on and why.”
We all laughed as she told us that she thinks of Relay as “one big dysfunctional family, but at the end of the day, it is still a family”. She said “you always have to keep in mind that everyone’s heart is in the right place and that we all share a common goal.”
It is hard to believe that somebody who has gone through so much... somebody who has lost so many... somebody who has fought so hard... would have the energy to keep going… the energy to encourage others… the energy to continue to give… but Sandie Loxingly Slate does… Sandie Loxingly Slate fights on… Sandie Loxingly Slate is a warrior...
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