We all have that one crazy friend who talks you into crazy feats that you might never attempt otherwise. Everyone, please meet my fantastic running friend, Tonia Smith. Tonia was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November 2013. I met her about a year ago as she was undergoing chemotherapy and continuing to run and I desperately needed a running partner to keep me motivated and inspired. I found Tonia at just the right time as while she was not only managing her treatments, family and training, she also managed to talk me into training for my first ultra race, the Bear Chase 50K. (Mind you, after chemotherapy was over, she fiercely began to train for the longer 50 Mile distance). I have since suggested that she is a giant cheater for being able to run farther and longer than I can because she deliberately had her pancreas removed so she could be faster. I just don't have that kind of dedication, so I'll leave all the superhuman feats to Tonia.
All jokes aside, Tonia is an inspiration to me not only for her running prowess or ability to motivate others, but mostly because she is simply an incredible human being, a good listener, a kind soul and someone who definitely makes a positive contribution to this world every single day. I admire her genuine personality, her determination, her kindness and her respect for others.
She has inspired me to run the Denver marathon and not only to complete the race, but also in hopes of qualifying for the Boston marathon, as she did recently as well. To be entirely honest, the thought of speaking that goal out loud scares the living crap out of me, but knowing Tonia, it's hard to live in fear of NOT achieving a goal. All there is to do is simply GO FOR IT. I hope you will join me in this endeavor and support a cause that has become so close to my heart due to my friendship with Tonia Smith.
If you aren't aware, pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of any cancer, yet the funding from the federal government for pancreatic cancer research is among the lowest for any cancer that exists. It is projected that pancreatic cancer will be the second leading cause of cancer deaths by 2020, surpassed only by lung cancer. The five-year mortality rate continues to be about 6% for all four stages.
I might not be able to cure this disease now, but if I can make even a little bit of difference, I will be satisfied. Please join me in supporting Project Purple in the Denver Marathon on October 18th, 2015!