Spring is my favorite season, it always has been. When I was a kid, growing up in snowy and cold Upstate NY, I’d start the countdownevery year in December, right after the shortest day of the year. I was never a fan of winter, and spring was the beginning of baseball season, the home-stretch for school, and longer days. Even in grey Upstate NY, we may see the sun occasionally.
To this day, I still really love spring–just feeling the sun on my face lifts me up. However, since 2005, spring has a lot of emotional feelings that roll in with that big shiny sun.
I was diagnosed with cancer on May 23rd, 2005.
Today is my anniversary, and it’s a challenge to draw a picture for anyone else to see. And I hate feeling self absorbed anyways, so I normally choose not to bother people with it—but this year is different. So here’s a ‘snapshot’ of what would take 10-12 pages to tell the entire ordeal.
The 23rd is also my birthday. Yep, I was diagnosed with stage-4 non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on my b-day. I am hoping it was God’s way of icing the cake with a nice little cherry that will make for a fine book or movie one day and make me a boatload of money. Or, maybe it was the punch line of the ultimate cruel joke. I prefer the happy version.
At any rate, running is a diversion from just hiding under the bed all-day, as if I could fit anyways. So, I am hoping to go for a nice long run later. I think only runners would think that’s a good way to spend your birthday–to anyone else I would sound like a complete loon. But aside from just being a distraction, and fun, there’s lots of other personal significance to running.
In February of 2005, I ran a full 26.2 mile marathon in New Orleans. My oncologist said that the reason that I was feeling so sick that day was because I most likely had stage 2 cancer at the time. It was brutal and slow–but I finished–not knowing as I crossed the finish line that day, that I’d not run again for the next two and a half years.
During that 2 and a half year period, I remember one day in particular, while lying in bed and watching TV, I flipped to one of the channels carrying ‘live’ coverage of the Country Music Marathon. I turned it off immediately. It was too painful to watch. At the time I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to ever be active again, and honestly, I was envious of everyone there.
That was a moment when I thought that I really had no understanding of healthy people who didn’t like to exercise. What a waste of a gift. And I remember praying that if I lived, that I’d be able to run again.
The road back was not so easy. After going into remission I could only run 1-2 minutes at a time before my legs would give out, then I worked up to 3-5 minutes, then finally a whole mile. That was a big day.
So, today, training for the New York Marathon means a lot–not just for me, but all of those people in bed now who can’t.
That may sound self-serving to some people, but that’s okay. I know what my intentions are and why I do this, and if we based our actions on everyone else’s approval, we’d never get out of bed in the morning.
So the truth is–we run for those who can’t. I understand that well–I have no idea how long I’ll be able to do this. Pre-cancer, I never had physical issues. I had a good run!
But it’s different now.
Chemotherapy beats the living crap out of your joints, and the affects last for the rest of your life. A lot of people don’t get that part. But in the past two years I’ve had knee surgery, a torn hamstring and a torn calf muscle- and yes I know I’m crazy.
The NY Marathon is November 4th and together with my little Team NY, which is 3 people, Ted, Sammi and me, we need to raise $100,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
The money that you give goes to cancer research–and it works. I’m alive because of it- and now we run for those who can’t.
Will you do me a favor–pass this on to whomever you think might relate to this story- and maybe some nice, giving billionaire will put us over the top with one click of the link- that would be the best birthday present ever.
In the meantime, would you think about giving today?
Even if it’s 5 or 10 dollars-it all helps- and we appreciate you more than you know!
So on behalf of Team New York, and Sammi, Ted, and everyone who wears Team in Training Purple, thank you for helping to find the ultimate finish line– a cure.
No Retreat…No Surrender!