Go Grey LA…Literally
Race day finally came and went yesterday and mother nature took the name “Go Gray LA” literally which means it ended up feeling like every soccer game I played as a kid with lots of cold rain and wind (obviously very uncomfortable for most people from SoCal) but pretty much everyone that signed up still showed up (including our dear friend Christy who is 8 months pregnant and another friend who had a fever two days before the race) and that spoke volumes to Amy and I. In fact another one of our dear friends, Molly, whom I’ve known since high school and is living in LA now said it best when she told Amy, “Well, I hate early mornings…and rain…and being cold…and running…so I guess that means that I must really love Alex” and that about summed up the event for me.
Seeing all my friends and family running in the rain in solidarity with me is the type of thing that gives me the courage to lay on that table, wear that Hannibal Lecter mask, and get nuked each day and persevere through all the ups and downs of living with this disease. The last thing you want to feel when you’re going through something like this (or really anything in life actually) is “alone”, so that image will stay with me forever as a reminder that I’m very loved. My brother Josh who came down from Seattle (and brought the weather with him) was beside me the whole race and we actually did (I’m very proud to say) RUN parts of it with my neurosurgeon “Dr. Yang” and his wife, pacing us!!! As we reached the halfway point, Josh told me “this is the perfect metaphor for what you’re going through right now…You’re in the middle of a crazy, scary, and chaotic storm and just you watch, after we’re done, it’ll clear up and the sun will shine bright just like your life will when you get to the other side of this” and wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what happened, as we were leaving, the sun burst through the clouds with powerful rays of light like I’ve never seen before and it made me smile big (which I can do pretty well now).
Even in the midst of the disappointment with the weather during the race, the energy and vibe of the event I was hoping for was definitely still there. I got to meet a couple of long term survivors (and had a far worse prognosis than I do) who are on the other side of recovery and are now living full and abundant lives (meeting them was both encouraging and empowering to say the least). I also met “Lisa”, who started the organization that puts on the race, and I found out that she started it after her brother Brad was diagnosed with stage 4 and his one request before dying was that she and their family would never give up on finding the cure (I’m so thankful for angels like Brad). She also told me that they more than doubled the amount of money they raised last year and also doubled the amount of participants. I plan to do my part to make sure that that growth continues next year (with your help of course) as it is still so difficult for this disease to get the attention it needs.
I’m 75% done with my radiation and have become friends with a couple other patients. We have all joked about how there seems to be a bit of competition between Cancer patients as to who has it the roughest and after mentioning this fact to my resident doctor Julie, she said that head and neck Cancer wins hands down so I made sure to rub it in my new friends’ faces today (please know that this story is meant to in no way diminish or poke fun at the horrors and pain of all Cancers…I just wanted to give you what I’ve found to be a little insight into the culture of fellow Cancer patients and how some manage to still find levity in the situation). Thank you again for your continued prayers and support, my doctors were of course blown away by the fact that I participated in the 5K yesterday and I want you to know that I attributed it to the love and support that I have received from you. As I was leaving treatment today I ran into “Pam”, the social worker for the radiation oncology department at UCLA, and after I told her about the race and all the support I received, she made a profound point that I think is probably the biggest thing I’ve discovered to be true amidst all this, and that is “even though if feels like there are a lot of selfish and greedy people out there, the truth is that most people are actually very giving and generous and loving…some just need to be given the opportunity to be so.”
Much Love and Gratitude,