I run to celebrate life

The Team: TNT- SF Bay Area, Golden Gate Run Team

The Contender: Me, 41-year-old latecomer to long-distance running

The Event: Nike Women’s Marathon, 26.2 miles of asphalt and hills

The Date: Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Reason: Read on…

My beef with cancer (it’s not business, it’s personal)

How many more must come within cancer’s grip?

Cancer is all around us. It afflicts people you love. People you know. People you see. Your family. Your relatives. Your friend. Your friend’s mother, father, brother, and sister. Your friend’s friend. It never seems to stop.

My Thai grandfather – the only grandfather I ever knew – passed away from bladder cancer when I was too young to appreciate what cancer was.

But at age 14, I learned for myself what cancer was. I was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. I went through 2 major surgeries and 3 1/2 years of chemo. I viewed cancer as a huge disruption to my academic and social life. I wanted it to be over. I wanted my hair to grow back. I wanted to stop missing school. Not once did it dawn on me, at the time, that I could die. No one told me, at the time, that I only had a 30% chance of surviving.

As things turned out, 4 out of 62 students in my high school class, from our tiny little Pennsylvania town, have been touched by cancer. A couple years after my ordeal began, one of my classmates was diagnosed with leukemia; he fought hard but lost his battle during senior year. Recently I learned that a few years ago another high school classmate had passed away from cancer. And in April, a week before I found out I got a spot in the Nike Women’s Marathon, my high school best friend told me she was diagnosed with stage 3 advanced squamous cell carcinoma.

Why fundraise?

I believe in fate. I had been toying with the idea of running a marathon, and running one sooner rather than later, given my age. The Nike Women’s Marathon is in my backyard, so it was a no-brainer to enter this year’s lottery. But the idea to fundraise for cancer research came to me after my friend shared her news. My marathon endeavor suddenly had real purpose. I found my muse. She will be my inspiration to log the many miles over the next 5 months, to ignore the little voice of self-doubt inside, and to cross that finish line come October. And that Tiffany finisher necklace that everyone raves about? That’s going to get mailed straight to her.

I believe in medical research. Medical research in the late 70’s and early 80’s put me where I am today: healthy and alive, surrounded by loving family, graced by wonderful friends, and showered with affection by my husband and two sons. There’s research to cure cancer and there’s research to find gentler ways to treat it. As everyone who has had cancer or cared for someone with cancer knows, what’s awful about the disease is not only that it threatens your life, it can rob you of your dignity. An aggressive disease requires an aggressive treatment, and the harshness of cancer treatment can make a patient lose the most crucial weapon of all: the will to live. Researchers have made huge strides in shortening the time and softening the blow of cancer treatment. They deserve our ongoing support.

Why TNT / LLS?

I do not have a personal connection to blood cancer, but one of the most indelible memories from my cancer experience was walking past the pediatric leukemia ward at the hospital where I began receiving treatment. I remember peering through the glass-covered cut-out on the heavy doors and seeing the toddlers and young children in their isolation tents, their heads completely bare, their parents covered in gowns, masks, gloves and booties, the frail quietness in everyone’s eyes. That scene taught me that cancer shows no mercy. Leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among those under the age of 20. But the good news is that the likelihood of dying from most types of leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma has decreased in the 9-year period from 1996-2005 (the most recent period where data is available). The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has played a commendable role in that changing tide. My cycling fanatic younger brother has been a TNT volunteer for years, so I have learned from him the good work they’re doing.

Support my quest for $3000 + 26.2 miles

Please join me in supporting the LLS. My goal is to raise $3000 by August.

  • The LLS welcomes donations of any amount so please give whatever you are able. Your generosity during these challenging economic times is doubly appreciated.
  • 76 cents out of every dollar you give goes straight to research and patient support and 100% of your donation is tax-deductible.
  • Donating online via the green button, above right, is easy and secure.
  • If you prefer, you can mail me your donation. Email me and I’ll send you my address.

And please join me in celebrating life. Life is a marathon. Some days you’re flying across the Golden Gate Bridge under blue skies. Some days you’re running uphill in the rain. But you keep going. You keep pushing, even when it hurts. You go as long as you can. Because being alive is a gift.

Let’s do this in honor of all those who have come within cancer’s grip and what they had to endure in their lives.


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