Last year, I started this running and healthier me thing. And part of my journey was participating in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure as my first 5K walk/run. It wasn't intended to be a competitive event for me.
This year, I will be doing the competitive start to the event. I will meet with my Indy Moms team, I will be there for the Parade of Survivors, I will hang out with the moms who were an important part of my experience last year. And then I will go tot he starting line before the tens of thousands of walkers and I will start with the thousand or so runners.
I am going to repost what I wrote about this event last year- because the reasons for my participation are the same. I'm also very excited about this year's run because the woman who lost that battle, Michele, that I wrote about... her husband has started coming to my church. I can't tell you how much it lifted my heart to see him that first Sunday. And I'm so excited that he enjoyed the experience and intends to keep coming back. I am excited to see him plugged into this community because I think it will benefit him greatly. He had planned to be part of our team last eyar- but it was too hard once the day arrived. I fully get that. I'm just so excited to stay connected to him and have this new opportunity to stay connected to his family.
Please consider making a donation. You can click on my pathetically empty thermometer above- not a single donation yet this year and the race is less than 2 weeks away. You don't have to make a huge donation. If 10 people give $5, that's halfway to my goal. If those 10 people can give $10, I make my goal. And maybe, just maybe, we can blow it out of the water like we did last year.
I'm not doing the Race so that I can run. I'm doing it to show solidarity with other women, to promote awareness of women's health issues, to raise money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, to remember those who have lost their battle, and to celebrate those who are fighting and who have fought and won their own breast cancer battles.
I have to admit- I don't have a lot of cancer close to me. From what I know of my genes, my family medical history is relatively breast cancer free. I've had friends who knew someone affected by breast cancer. I've worked with people who have had breast cancer. But breast cancer hasn't really impacted my life directly.
Until this past summer.
I'm part of a local online community for moms. I've been part of it since the beginning and, soon after joining, became part of the staff as a Discussion Leader. Some members come and go. Some members stay around. Some are moms that I really respect and admire. Some have very similar viewpoints and experiences to my own and some are vastly different. One of those moms who was almost always on the opposite side of an argument from me was Michele. We weren't friends but we knew each other. And I'd heard through other mom friends that she truly did live her Christian values- she would give you the shirt off her back.
In April or May, she shared with us that she had cancer. The same day that she shared her diagnosis of breast cancer, Jeff and I had an impromptu date. We went bowling and then played putt-putt. I should have known that my life was about to change dramatically... that God was about to step in and push me beyond my comfort levels. There was a woman and boy in front of us. We started chatting and it turned out that this was Michele's sister and son.
At the end of June, Michele's fight crashed. She was hospitalized. She was in a coma. Friends of the family kept us, on the message board, up to date. No one knew what to do. We had seen moms lose a husband, even lose a child. But we hadn't lost one of us.
We started organizing to bring meals to her family at the hospital. I work near the hospital and offered to meet moms in the church's chapel so we could pray together. My second day doing that, the 3 of us decided to go upstairs to see Michele and her family. That was the decision that changed my life.
We met her husband, her parents, her sister, their pastor. There was a lot of crying and hugging. Michele was not awake or alert. The connection had been made. It was clear that our purpose was to lift up this family as they faced and went through the most impossible situation they'd faced- the loss of this mommy.
The moms came together again for the funeral. None of us were there to intrude- we all made ourselves available to take care of each other and, most importantly, Michele's family. We brought food and ran to the store to buy more food. We made sack lunches to send on the 2 hour drive to the cemetary. Everything was done with love and compassion. It was amazing to see what these moms could do when they came together.
I've stayed connected to Michele's sister and husband. Our moms came together to bring Christmas to the family. For several months after her death, our moms continued to give money to a fund we had set up. There were auctions and fundraisers organized by the moms. Things eventually quieted- but we are all ready to jump to action if Tim says the word.
Fast forward to now. The online community has participated in the Indianapolis Race for the Cure every year for at least 5 years now. I've never done it. Remember the top of the post? Breast cancer hadn't impacted me so it really just wasn't on my radar. But this year... now it's different. Now I know a dad who is struggling to parent 4 children- including children with special needs. Now I know a sister who doesn't have her best friend to call every day. Now I know a mother who had to bury her child.
So this year, I will walk with Tim and with our moms. Some of our moms are survivors. Some have been affected by cancer stealing away a parent or sibling. Some are there simply because they are passionate about the cause. Some of us will walk and some will run and some will walk and run.
Adding for 2011: This year, I will run as much as I can. I will run because I'm healthy and strong. I will run because there are harder challenges in life than running 3.1 miles. Yes, I will stop and walk. But I will keep going, keep fighting, keep pushing. Those who face cancer do it...
Please consider making a donation in support of my efforts, in honor of people you know who have been impacted by cancer, or just because Komen is a good cause. Thank you.