When people you do not even know and will never meet took actions 20, 30, 40, or even 50 or more years ago that ended up saving your life in 2002, how do you thank them? How is that even possible?
But I didn’t die, and so I had this dilemma – how do I say “thank you?” Well, when I was so ill that summer and fall, I swore that when I was healthy again, I would find a way to do just that. And the way I have come up with is to pay it forward – to try to do something positive so that my good fortune results in good things for others.
Starting in 2005, and continuing every year since, I have been involved with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by raising money for their mission with my participation in Team in Training. 2010 was no different: I signed up for the summer team and after a lot of thought, picked the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon. After months of fund raising in every way I could come up with, and training in weather from snow and cold to summer heat and everything in between, I headed to Seattle in late June, along with Richmond coach and teammate Chuck Smith.
It was my first time in Seattle, and I made the most of it in the time available, seeing several parts of the area from land and water. But the most important aspect of the trip was being there with Team in Training to finish what I committed to in all my fundraising emails: to do my part and run the race. So there I was, running and walking13.1 miles on June 26, racing for a cure as a cancer survivor for the fifth time for TNT. It was an incredible feeling. I thought of all the names on my shirt and what each of those names represented - the collective suffering from cancer just by those people is colossal! I thought about how ill I was eight years ago, and here I was running another long distance race - something I had never done before having cancer. And I had met and exceeded my fundraising goal, so I dyed my hair purple for the race - or at least a semblance of purple. It all felt amazing!
After hearing our inspiration party speaker talking the night before about the horrific time her infant daughter and family had dealing with leukemia as a baby, it reminded me that the toughest foot race is not as difficult as these diseases. I thought of this little girl several times during the race when a hill seemed tough, or my muscles felt tired, and a few times, my eyes filled with tears as I ran while thinking of the things her mother had told us and the photos she shared with us.