Thursday, July 12, 2007

Why we're running ...

Stephanie, who is running in memory of her mom, wrote this letter.

Back in January I accompanied my husband Michael on his trip to Miami to cheer him on as he completed a goal he had been preparing for since October 2006; the ING Miami Marathon. Once we arrived, the excitement was so overwhelming, that on a whim, I decided to join in, and I signedup for the 1/2 marathon. I knew good and well that there was no way I'd be able to do much more than walk most of it, however I still participated and crossed the finish line with a time of well over three hours. The experience of participating in the half marathon in Miami
changed my perspective on my own physical endurance. As I pounded the pavement through the Art Deco District of South Beach, with the early morning sun the sun breaking through the clouds, and the ocean breeze cooling me, I felt a calming presence around me. I looked up at the
clouds above me and all I could think of was how much my mom would love this moment. How beautiful everything around me was and how excited she would be to know what I was doing. It was at that moment that I was inspired to keep doing it. In March 2003, my mom, Betsy, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. For many days after my mom received her diagnosis, I spent at least an hour on the phone with her each night. It seemed that the physical distance between us was too great and no amount of time talking could heal it. The truth of the situation was beginning to sink in and I began to realize that her illness could be fatal. There was one conversation we had that continues to stick in my mind: "Mamma, I don't want you to die." She said to me, "Sweetie, I don't want to die either, but if it's God's plan to take me, at least I will go down fighting. I will try everything possible. Even if the doctors can't save me, maybe something they learn from me will help find the cure for someone else. Maybe that is what God meant for me."
As it turned out my mom went through many new and experimental treatments including conjugated monoclonal antibody treatments. These treatments would not have been available to her if it were not for the research, information, and patient services provided by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Since 2003, I have been involved in raising money and volunteering forthe Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. When I returned home from my trip to
Miami, I began researching opportunities to continue participating in activities with the Society and incorporate my new found inspiration in long-distance running. As a result of my research I found that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society coordinates a half-marathon in Virginia Beach every fall; in addition the Society offers their program Team in Training that is the number one endurance training program in thecountry. In exchange for valuable funds raised for the Society, TNT provides participants with a comprehensive training program led by experienced coaches who train runners, walkers, cyclists, skaters, and triathletes to complete events in exciting locations around the world.

For the past month and a half instead of sleeping in and enjoying waking up to the warm noon-day sun streaming in my bedroom window, I wake up at7:00 AM to join my Team in Training teammates for our weekly group run.

Last week, I met the 6 mile mark for my training, which is almost half-way for the half-marathon in Virginia Beach. We also had a special picnic after our run in which we met our honored teammates, and I shared with my pace group the story and memories of my personal honored teammate, my mom. It was at that time that I made a commitment to go all the way with my commitment and I will be, in addition to running the half marathon in Virginia Beach on September 2, 2007, running the full Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, DC on October 28, 2007. This may seem crazy to some of you, but in reality, running 26.2 miles is nothing
compared to what patients with blood related cancers go through on a daily basis.By signing up to run the Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon and the Marine Corp Full Marathon, I have committed myself to run 13.1 miles plus 26.2miles, and I have pledged to raise $3,300 for the Society. I will berunning in memory of my mom, as well as for the other honored teammates in my local area.

In loving memory of my mom, Elizabeth 1948-2005

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