Tag Archives: leukemia

Baby, we were born to run

16 May

This spring has been anchored in running.  Run because you’re strong.  Run because you want to feel better.  Run long because you’re sure as heck not running the Boston marathon.  Run in honor of those who were there that day.  Run in the cold.  Run on the bike path.  Run on the rail trail with mom on the weekend.  Run run run run run.

On Sunday, we finally had the run we were waiting for: my very first half marathon.

The start line at the Cox Providence Half Marathon was gray and overcast – we had lots of company at the 14:00 mile marker, including lots of cops in riot gear.  When the race finally started (late), we started out under cloudy skies.

Cox Start Line

But the next three hours got brighter and brighter, metaphorically speaking, as mom and I ran.  Even though the first half was entirely uphill, it was spotted with awesome sights (thanks, dude playing a banjo on the porch!), beautiful houses, our awesome family and fan club who we got to see SIX times between the start and the finish, some friendly competition with some other gals who were running at the same pace as us, and more.

It wasn’t always easy – the hills were killer, and the downhills made my knees ache even as I was grateful for a change.  We got super hungry halfway through (working out for hours can do that to you!) and it rained for a bit.

And yet.

Through the race, I felt stronger with every footfall that reverberated off the pavement.  With every inch behind us, we got closer to this amazing accomplishment.  The area by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s water stop was paved with inspirational posters that literally brought tears to my eyes – notes about how we run because they can’t, how we run because they can, how we run because they – survivors, patients, loved ones – once did.   Because of the 20+ names on my back that spoke to just how much blood cancer can touch a life.  And because 15 years ago this spring, I was a sick, bald kid in a hospital bed who wasn’t sure I would live to have my first kiss, and today I was a successful woman, running a stellar, challenging race.

When we passed mile 10, I took one step further than I’ve ever gone in my life.  And it got better – the final leg of the race course merged with the full marathon course, and we go an extra boost from finishing alongside some quite fast marathoners.

As we got near the finish, we could see the crowd ahead.  All up and down the sidewalk were fellow runners, family members, neighbors, friends, and students, all out to cheer us on.  Their cheers built into a roar of bells and applause and screeches to push us across the finish line.  You might have thought that the area around that yellow line would be a little less populated this time around, but you would be absolutely, delightfully, overwhelmingly wrong.  Instead, people showed the best of themselves, and passed it on to everyone else around them.

Mom and I crossed the finish line at 3:05:50 – much faster than we expected, with an average pace of 14:11 (including a bathroom break!).  We ran into the arms of our loving family – Kat, Dad, and Wes – and smiled through our sweat.  “We actually did it,” we said to each other, holding our weird anchor medals in our hands.  “We finished!”

Half marathon May 2013

This was my first half marathon, but it’s certainly not my last.  This confirmed the one thing that I was actually afraid of in this whole process – the concept that I can truly do anything.  And now, I have no excuse not to try.

Thank you for all your support this year – I can’t wait to tell you about the next adventure… just as soon as I decide what it is!

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Join me: Quiz for a Cure!

19 Mar

What’s better than helping cure blood cancers?

Curing blood cancers WHILE drinking beer WHILE playing pub trivia right in your own city!

Join me for a night of Geeks Who Drink Trivia to benefit my race for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Trivia is free, and for $5 a person you can win cash prizes and support my race for LLS.  It’s the perfect win-win-win-win all night long!

What: Trivia to benefit cancer research
Where: Hong Kong, Harvard Square
When: March 26 – trivia starts at 8:00, I recommend getting there by 7:45.  I’ll be there before then!
Questions? Leave me a comment here!

Hope to see you there!

PS: Want to know more about why I’m running in the first place?  Read more here!

Why I run

27 Feb

A phone call at 2:00 AM is never good news.  An ambulance ride in a snowstorm rarely leads to a good vacation.  And being delivered to the hematology-oncology department usually means you’re in for a long haul.

Fifteen years ago this week, I embarked on the adventure known as cancer when I was diagnosed with ALL – acute lymphocytic leukemia. It turned out that my limp wasn’t just from a ski injury, those dots on my arms weren’t just a reaction to the winter cold, and my lip didn’t start bleeding just because I smacked it with a sled (though it certainly didn’t help…) – they were all the signs of something much more dangerous.

My diagnosis at CHaD (the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth) kicked off a new normal for me and my family.  We spent weekends – and holidays – in the hospital.  I missed a full quarter of sixth grade.  All my hair fell out, and I spent my week at Girl Scout camp coating my head in sunscreen.  I moved two steps forward – returning to the softball sidelines and helping with costumes in the school play – and two steps back, missing classes for weekly shots and monthly spinal taps.  I made new friends along the way, and had to say goodbye to far too many.

When I got diagnosed, all I could dream of was a day when I would have hair again (and no bangs, thank god).  When it wouldn’t be a challenge to walk across the room or eat the same meal as the rest of my family.  When my skin, and my mouth, and my poor stomach would all belong to me again.  I could barely imagine that some day I would leave home for college, where I would row on the crew team – that I would get to travel to far off lands on my own – that I would move to Boston to have new adventures every day – that I would be able to put this cancer crap behind me.

And the truth is, you can’t.  I’ve been cancer free for more than a decade.  My doctor doesn’t even care that I had it once because it’s medically irrelevant (she literally made me carry my chemo records back home because they just don’t matter anymore!)  But it’s a solid part of who I am, why I strive to appreciate every day in this amazing world, and why I’m training to run my very first half marathon this spring.  Donate now >>

My mom and I are joining the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and training for the Cox Providence half marathon on May 12, 2013.  It’s a challenge unlike anything I’ve ever undertaken, and we’re going to be racing the clock to finish before the course closes.  We’ll be running in honor of that day 15 years ago – and for Brian, for Granddaddy, for Mike and Danae and everyone else along the way.  Running for a better future – and present – for people dealing with blood cancer.

Please – whether you were there or were hearing this story for the first time – make a gift to support a better life for people with blood cancer.

I’m here today and able to run because of the love that surrounded me in my darkest hour, because I had the good fortune to get cancer in 1998 and not 1968, and because of the kind of research that LLS makes possible.  Every dollar will go to support this cause – whatever you can give will make a difference.

Mom and Sal text

 15 years down, 13.1 miles to go!  Add your support now >>

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