Saturday, October 19, 2013

13 Dedicated Miles

Tomorrow, October 20, 2013, marks my first half-marathon.  13.1 miles.  Five years ago, at my healthiest self, I never would have thought this was possible.  But I have had two very challenging years and I am so proud of where I am today.

I certainly wouldn't be here, in this great place, if it weren't for the love and support I have received along the way.

So, tomorrow, I am dedicating my run to these amazing people.  And more importantly, I am dedicating  a mile to them.  I know that my run will be difficult and really push me. But when I start to doubt my abilities and my training, I am going to invest in these people to carry me through, the way they so selflessly have during my difficult times.

MILE 1: My mom.
I couldn't ask for a more selfless person to care for me during my journey the past two years.  My mom has always provided love and support, but she also had encouraged me, cried with me and motivated me, when I didn't think I could do it anymore.  She puts me and my family before her needs, without even asking.  She rubbed cold washcloths on my face when I had fevers, she woke up with Evan for all of his nighttime feedings and provided Brian with critical emotional support during tough times.  And now, she is dealing with her own health challenges.  We had quite a scare in August when we thought she was having a heart attack; the great news is that her arteries are clear.  The bad news is that her coronary arteries go into spasm, which cause heart-attack like symptoms.  She is being treated medically but it's something that needs ongoing monitoring to ensure that the spasms stop happening. But my mom isn't letting this stop her; she is still walking, eating healthy, and spending time being the Best Nana ever.

MILE 2: My running friends, Cara and Ross! (and Lori, when she joins us!)
There is no way I would have gotten this far if Cara Ontiveros and Ross Rivard hadn't come up with the harebrained idea last Spring to run a half-marathon in January.  I really just wanted to go on the Florida getaway, and if I had to run to do that, I was willing to do that. I started small - the 53 Riverbank Run 10K in May.  And then I trained in the summer for the CRIM - a 10 mile race in Flint.  The furthest I had run before that run was 7.5 miles; and then I did 10!  Then Cara and Ross asked me to run the Bridge Run in GR in September - another 10 mile race.  I missed the Half-Marathon they ran in September because I was in New Mexico, but signed up for the GR Half because Cara did.  I've never done this before!  I just keep jumping on their running bandwagon...and as much as it terrifies me and makes me nervous to push myself, I love it.  And I love them.  I love the encouragement.  I love that we are doing it all together.

September 2013 - With Ross and Cara, post Bridge Run

MILE 3: Amelia Peterson
In a perfect world, Amelia would be running beside me.  She was training for a half-marathon all summer when she got the news that her cancer had metastasized to her bones and her brain. Obviously, she had to put the training aside while she focused on life-saving treatment.  But I know that it is a goal of hers and when she is healthy and ready to go, I would love to join her on her first half-marathon, wherever she wants to go.
My friend, the fighter: Amelia

MILE 4: Jori Phillips
I would like to think that Jori and her husband, Tim, would have found Brian and I and eventually become best friends, without a cancer journey to tie us together.  I just think we are "meant to be".  When we are together, we finish each other's sentences, we share the same fears and we are raw and real with each other.  Jori is also a cancer-fighter, now facing many decisions to deal with the recent metastasis to her brain. In addition to being a doting mother, fierce fighter and superior nurse, she is also a runner and understands the accomplishment and euphoria that comes with finishing a hard race.

With Jori and Tim

MILE 5: The Pioneers
These are my friends and family I will be thinking about that have done this before.  My dad, obviously, inspired me to start running many years ago.  I never thought I would go far and knew I wouldn't be fast, but he is just proud that I'm out there. My Uncle Rick has run the CRIM over ten times and tackled a few marathons himself.  In my post this week, I mentioned my survivor friend, Lori, has run several half-marathons.  Lacey and Ben completed their first full marathons within the past two years.  Michael, Meghan's BF, ran the Detroit Half-Marathon last year. I'm in awe of these people.  It takes so much time and dedication to train and be a consistent runner, but they inspire me to keep going and be better.

Uncle Rick, my mom and me after the CRIM

My dad, finishing the GR Marathon in 2010

I've written about Lindsay and her amazingness on my blog before; she is still fighting against her Stage 4 Breast Cancer metastasis.  The chemo cocktail she did over the summer shrank some of the tumors but didn't touch other tumors, so now the cocktail has been mixed up and she is trying something new.  If you met Lindsay, you wouldn't know that she is FIGHTING FOR HER LIFE everyday.  She just started at a new job and most of her co-workers don't even know.  But she is.  And she's amazing.  And she inspires me.
Lindsay and Carter

Ingrid is also fighting her triple negative recurrence with all she has.  Unfortunately, this type of cancer isn't as easy to treat, so they are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Ingrid.  My favorite drug she is on is call 5FU.  That's right, cancer.  FU.  Ingrid also has severe allergic reactions to a lot of the medicines so her infusions take much longer than normal.  But she fights on...and she leads a Cancer Warriors Group at Grand Valley so other survivors and patients know they aren't alone.
Ingrid and Neve.

This little guy is my inspiration in everything: fighting to be healthy, being the best mom I can, being a better person. I can't believe the journey we have been on together.  It is not a scientific fact that my chemo treatments caused a lot of Evan's health problems during the first year; but I believe it did.  Chemo stripped my immune system down to nothing and consequently, Evan caught every single thing during his first year.  Fifth Disease, roseola, pneumonia, bronchitis, pink eye, Hand Foot Mouth, ear infections, fevers, stomach flu, etc.  I am here to show my little man that he was worth fighting for and together, we will have our healthiest year yet.
Climbing at the park

Waiting for me to pick him up from school.

This is one tough group of ladies.  The amount of trauma that this group has overcome is indescribable. But let me try to enlighten you.  They raise their families and children.  They are wives.  They are caregivers.  They are daughters, sisters, and friends.  They are members of our community that have an unending amount of love for fellow patients and survivors.  They are athletes.  They raise money for breast cancer awareness and prevention.  They laugh at themselves.  They laugh at me.  They love me and all of my breast cancer dramas and I love them and all of theirs.  We are a motley crue with a lot of heart.
  • Erin Carpenter
  • Amy Buff
  • Diana Vandersteldt
  • Dena Anderson
  • Cathi Brechting
  • Lisa Bailey
  • Marcia Frobish
  • Rachel Holland
  • Samantha Johnson
  • Liz Koerner
  • Lori Ostreko
  • Kim Mark
  • Andrea Stagg
  • Lori Ostreko
  • Lindsay, Amelia, Jori and Ingrid
Rita is a RN that I have talked about many times before on my journey.  When I was confused about treatment options, Rita broke it down into small, digestible pieces. When I was debating whether or not to take  Tamoxifen, Rita had lunch with me and talked with me in a way no other medical professional had.  I am taking Tamoxifen because of the conversation I had with Rita.  A few weeks ago, I called Rita to talk to her about my elevated tumor markers.  She calmed me down and explained the entire process; from the tests, the possible outcomes, the ultrasound, etc.  I'm so lucky I have someone like Rita to call when I have questions.  Oh - and she is an incredible lady for other reasons too, but I'm most excited about the 300 Mile bike ride we are doing in July 2014.

These are two women that inspire me for a lot of reasons.  The first is that they both have an incredible faith that sees them through dark times in their lives.  The second is they both have had some unbelievable medical challenges this year.  Laura is getting stronger and stronger everyday and I am so proud of the accomplishments she has made. And Mrs. Pickell spent time reaching out to me, sending me e-mails and cards, while she was fighting her own difficult cancer battle. 

I could have beat cancer without my friends and family.  But I would have done it miserably.  And depressed.  And spent a lot more time crying and having pity parties for myself.  Instead, I was not alone. They kept me smiling and reminded me to keep LIVING.  They walked by my side during the entire journey.  

My sister - the best sister ever.  The support and loyalty she provides to me is unfailing.  Unconditional.   Never ending.  

My gorgeous mom and gorgeous sister.

My best friend beside me on my wedding day
My friends that have gotten me through this journey: Gwen, Katie, Lacey, Courtney, Stacey.
Beautiful friends.  Not so beautiful wig.  Really bad.

Celebrating Gwen on her wedding day.

Wine tasting with Stacey and Courtney

My brother.  He didn't live here physically but compensated by calling, texting and going to chemo whenever he was home.  And he made me a beautiful documentary of my journey, which is one of my most prized possessions.

And Brian's family....Cindy, Ed, Tricia and family and Alison...
With Alison in Colorado

With Ed and Cindy in Florida

And this elf is representing all of the Ross Family.

There are so many amazing aunts and uncles and cousins.  My friends that I work with, friends in my neighborhood and friends that live far away. I love all of the e-mails and texts and cards.  I am pretty sure I have the best support system.  EVER.  I should try to start renting them out because they are amazing. 

There is so much to say.  My soul mate.  My rock.  My everything.  There is no one else I want to spend more time with.  There is no one that has seen me at my worst as many times as he has, but is still there to help me be better. I trust him to take care of me and our family. I trust him to pick me up when I  am down (an even more so when I don't want to get up).  He makes me laugh everyday. He is my home.

Our amazing New York experience

Hiking in Colorado

Wedding Day

We've been through so much.

And he's been by my side every step of the way.

The last piece is for me.  To celebrate me.  I did it.  I did something I never thought I COULD do.  I can't wait to cross that finish line and rejoice and just be PROUD.  I overcame and I am accomplishing new dreams.  I can't wait to wear my medal to bed on Sunday night.

I will be even more excited at the end.


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