On June 21st, a team of 160 cancer survivors and supporters will embark on a 4,000-mile run across America. One marathon at a time, the team will cross 15 states and more than 500 communities as they work to pass their baton from the Pacific to the Atlantic. I am one of those runners on team Cancer Suxx.
I was approached in October by Steve Cannon to take part in this event. After much thinking, I decided this was just what I needed to do no matter how insane it initially sounded! In November 2008, I took part in a Susan G. Komen 3-Day event in San Diego. I never in a million years dreamed I would be able to walk 60 miles in three days! But on those three mornings, I got up and knew I would be able to accomplish that marathon that day. Because it meant I could overcome all odds. Just put mind over matter and keep taking those steps.
I remembered growing up as a little girl watching my mother's life deteriorate as she battled breast and ovarian cancer. She passed away at the age of 50. I grew up with my father and three older brothers and life was great. Then BOOM! When I was 29, I was diagnosed with Stage III Breast Cancer. I was only 29! I was scared, thinking back to what my mother endured. Would I be affected the same way? You're supposed to have your whole life in front of you at that age.
After several rounds of chemo and a single mastectomy, I resumed my normal life. However, five years later I was faced with a reoccurence. It was a slap in the face. I had no other choice but to remove my other breast and undergo more chemo. My oncologist recommended BRCA testing, which I ended up doing after I finished chemo. I tested BRCA1 positive. Because of my mother's illness and my own, this put me at very high risk of another occurrence. It was recommended that I undergo a full hysterectomy as part of my prevention, which I did.
So why am I running, you ask? I am running for myself, my nieces, and the children of my friends. But most of all, I'm running for those that can no longer run because their lives were cut way too short. Not only did I lose a mother to cancer, but I've lost many friends since the time I was first diagnosed. I lost a dear friend, Kim, who will forever be in my heart. We were childhood girlfriends and we were both battling breast cancer, but she lost that fight before she reached the age of 40.
I am taking this journey in hopes that one day no one will have to hear the words "you have cancer." That no one will have to feel the pain of losing a loved one to cancer. That no one will have to sit in a chair to tolerate chemo and its terrible side effects that it leaves on a person. I dream of a world without cancer.
I hope you will make a donation for cancer research and help to make that dream come true for all of us.