A couple of weeks ago when I met with doctors to discuss treatment for my knee, the question was when should I start? Initially I wanted to start immediately, but when I was informed I would need to avoid running for a while, I opted to delay the procedure.
I knew I had the AF Canyon Cancer Run coming up and would need to forfeit the race if I started the PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatment.
With 100% of race fees going directly toward assisting local cancer patients, knowing my entry was non-refundable, and how much cancer I’ve seen in my life, I opted to delay treatment and run.
I began physical therapy and 10 days before the race, I went out for my first short and easy run. Coach Paul gave strict orders to take it easy and not run more than a few miles each day while continuing to cross train.
Taking a month off of long distance running despite cross training and then just showing up and running a half marathon is not ideal, but I really had no other choice, because I love this race and it’s meaning.
Cancer has been apart of my life in one way or another for as long as I can remember. Both of my parents, step-mother, grandmothers, several great aunts and uncles, a childhood friend, my mother-in-law, a good friends’ daughter and most recently my husband’s first cousin and a neighbor have all been cancer warriors. Everyone but my neighbor (she’s currently fighting) and parents have lost their battle with this disease.
This cancer race carries a lot of meaning for me. For the last 2 years, I’ve “Raced in Honor” of these loved ones that have blessed my life.
This year I had the privilege to join friends in a local running group to honor the life of Robert Merriman who lost his fight with brain cancer in February.
Robert influenced everyone in our running community to live life truthfully, to show kindness and above all else, to love. If we all could #LiveLikeRobert, we’d change the world, just like Ghandi said.
Early Saturday morning I woke up at 3 am and was surprised by sore hamstrings. I realized physical therapy the day before a race probably wasn’t the best idea as I usually rest my legs.
Because I hadn’t gone for a long run in a month, I was worried this race would be extra challenging if I was starting out sore.
At the startling line I located our running group, took some pictures and found the bathroom one more time.
Just after 5:55 am, we were off. I felt pretty good with no knee pain until the rolling hills started around mile 8.
As I hit the first hill, my knee immediately protested and I opted to stop and walk. When I crested the hill, I started running again and was pleased to feel the pain subside. The remainder of the race, I ran the flat and walked the hills to the end. As I ran, whenever I felt pain in my knee, I reflected on the participating cancer survivors sprinkled through out the days different events. I thought about how difficult running would be for them and how much their lives changed forever the day they received their diagnosis.
I thought back to 2002 when I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. The doctors words were a conflict of emotions. I felt grateful to finally have answers as to why I was so sick, but I also felt broken. For 6 years chronic pain and gastrointestinal issues were my normal way of life. As I processed my diagnosis and prognosis, I knew things were going to change but I didn’t how or what to expect.
Discouraged, I kept thinking wasn’t this supposed to be the prime of my life? Incurable meant a life sentence and I didn’t know how long that would be. For me, the feeling of something indefinite was the hardest part.
If I’m being honest, cancer is the one word the I fear. Crohn’s disease carries an increased cancer risk and taking immune suppressing drugs to treat it also carries an increased cancer risk, especially for lymphoma. Talking to my GI doctors about options, I feel like I’m damned if I do or don’t. For now, diet and exercise are still my best holistic options for Crohn’s disease as I take things one day at a time and look forward to the future, whatever that might be.
At the finish line Saturday there were cheers, hugs and tears as runners for a few brief hours symbolically shared the burden of cancer with the warriors still fighting.
We all look forward to the day when we can eradicate cancer for good. In the meantime, there’s never been a better time to #Jointhefight.
A big thank you to Intermountain Healthcare and the countless volunteers that made a wonderful day and successful race possible.
Editors note- In 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease. Offical cancer statistics here