Running in My Mind
Often during this past year I think about running my first and only (so far) half marathon. I ran it in May of 2011, just two months before the life changing event of TODAY (Alex’s seizure and tumor diagnosis). I doubt that running that half marathon was anything of a coincidence to the strength I would need to endure this past year. I do not mean that in the physical sense, although that is good, I mean it in the endurance sense and for my own self worth. Originally I set out to run the half marathon to prove to myself that I could accomplish this milestone on my own, with no trainer or partner holding my hand. Sounds a bit silly, but I have felt that I always needed someone to coach me or push me in order for me to reach any of my personal goals.
Training for several months before the race was pretty intense, especially because I did most of it alone. My biggest fan (Alex) was always around to give me encouragement and a high five for each new mile marker I had accomplished in training. Once the BIG race day came, I was extremely excited and of course questioning myself (Did I train enough? Am I really ready for this?).
The morning of the race was perfect, I had a cheerleading team (Alex, my Dad, and two close friends Tim and Richard). So there I was…. pumped up and ready to GO…! I began running and immediately checked myself, I knew the adrenaline rush would only last so long so I had to pace myself if I was really going to finish 13.1 miles. My only goals were to finish and to run the whole time. While running, Alex called to check in on me (I used my phone as my Ipod), and encourage me. The course was hard, a lot of hills, and a lot of off road terrain. I remember feeling at mile seven that their mile markers had to be wrong, it felt like I was at mile ten! Yet…I kept focused…prayed and kept envisioning the moment of crossing the finish line. I reminded myself that all I had to do was keep moving and eventually I would get there.
Finally, mile marker twelve hit and my body suddenly got a new rush of energy. I was 1.1 miles away from the finish! Even though literally every part of me ached, I began running faster (or at least it felt like I did), and eventually there it was…mile marker 13….and then THE FINISH LINE!! I curved around and sprinted across the finish line into Alex’s arms. I did it! Then… came the tears of this momentous occasion. It felt amazing to have completed the race!
This race continues to be something that gives me strength on this journey of cancer annihilating. Throughout the course of this year I have often thought… gee… it feels like I am only on mile seven… shouldn’t it be ten? Thinking of the mental determination and encouragement of others it took to finish the race has helped remind me that this journey is not a sprint, it is a long distance run. There will be moments of energy bursts, like each time we get a clear scan. Or there will be moments of extreme frustration and fatigue, like watching your loved one take a pill that is highly toxic and not intended for the body to digest, and then watching him feel like he got hit by a bus once a month.
Yet I am left with this… what’s the finish line with cancer? Honestly, I think its a cure! But for now I feel we hit the finish line each time Alex does something “new” that he hasn’t done since the diagnosis, like swim under water. It’s really the moments where you feel like your winning.
A year battling cancer with your loved one rocks you to the core, with its questions about your future, your financial stresses, and most importantly the pain of seeing your loved one have to endure such a physical, mental, and emotional challenges. Yet a year battling cancer with your loved one, or at least for me, shows me what a REAL FIGHTING MAN looks like.
Thank you for all your prayers and support. They help more than you may know.