Thursday, March 15, 2012

Who I'm Running For

In less than two and a half days, I'll step off the line to run - with some walking - in the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. I'm not fundraising for this event. Instead, I am participating in this race as the first event this year to celebrate surviving Hodgkin's lymphoma for 10 years. I could be pushing up shamrocks right now. Instead, thanks to a lot of luck and medical science, I am running for the shamrocks instead.

I'm not officially part of Team in Training for this race. But I will be wearing my purple Team in Training singlet from the Seattle race in June 2010. My shirt is covered with names of people that I honored in that race, and so by extension, I will honor them in the Shamrock as well. But I have three special honorees for this race, representing the hope, the success, and the failure of cancer treatments. I will wear a photo on my race shirt of each of these three folks as I run along for 13.1 miles.

The hope for cancer treatment will be represented by my good friend Bill Zettel. He is currently battling stage 4 colon cancer, and will be having really significant surgery on his liver in a couple of more weeks. This is on top of initial surgery a couple of months ago, followed by chemotherapy. He will be getting yet more chemo later this spring once he recovers from the surgery. Stage 4 cancer is very serious, but we are all confident that Bill is going to beat this, and I will try my best to honor him with my feet on March 18 in the Shamrock.

The success of cancer treatment will be represented by my friend Nicki Morgan, who will be running the Shamrock Half, too. I wrote about Nicki a couple of weeks ago when she hit her 15 year mark of surviving certain death from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after a bone marrow transplant. As I run my race to celebrate 10 years of survival, Nicki will be celebrating 15 years with her efforts.

The failure of cancer treatment will be represented by my friend Faith Eury, who died just over two weeks ago from stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma. I was lucky enough to survive Hodgkin's, but Faith was not, living just three years after her diagnosis. I had hoped to wear Faith's photo to honor her fight, round two in what we believed would be a victory. I am quite sad to wear her picture in her memory instead, and as a reminder that even the so-called "curable" cancers are not nearly curable enough.

Cancer being an awful, relentless thing, I've added a few more names to my Seattle shirt: in honor of Taquisha Jeffries - in recent remission from lymphoma - and my neighbor Nancy, recently diagnosed with a very serious cancer. Then of course, my good friend Judy Zettel, who was alive and quite healthy at the time I ran Seattle, was diagnosed with myeloma just months later and died 14 months ago. Then, my dear sister Ann, alive at the time of my Seattle race but dying from breast cancer 11 months later, will also be on my mind during this race.

I'll have plenty of company on the run - special honorees Bill, Nicki, and Faith, as well as the dozens of names from Seattle 2010 and the names recently added. I will do my best to honor all of them with my run this Sunday.

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