October … where to begin? As I sit to pen my thoughts for this week’s column, my head swarms with three primary thoughts: Breast Cancer Awareness, physical ability and Cancer Sucks.
Returning readers, I am sure are not surprised by that last thought, as it seems to find its way into this newspaper space at least once a quarter. So, for the sake of all of the above I will try and stream these three thoughts into a cohesive piece which helps our readers stick with it until the end.
Breast cancer was the first type of cancer to enter my life at the young age of nine-years-old. A family friend was faced with the diagnosis and in the mid-1970s ‘cancer’ was spoken about in a much different manner. I still recall sitting on the bed of my mother’s best friend and listening to the two discuss ‘what this meant.’ Since that day I’ve known more people than I care to count who have been touched by this form of cancer. Closest to me would be my Aunt Bunny who passed just shortly before the birth of my daughter and birth of her first grandchild in 2007.
But life brings with it a number of lessons and I am happy to report, while I wholeheartedly am not a ‘fan’ of cancer (that would be plain sick) I do try to learn something from each journey.
This of course is much easier said than done and often times the lessons take a little longer to come. But … I never stop wondering, what is the purpose of this person’s journey in relation to where I sit. I am not a believer in accidents. I subscribe to the theory that everything does indeed happen for a reason and all paths cross with a purpose.
The crazy thing I recently came to realize, was that it was the ugly monster of cancer and watching what it did to a friend, which taught me more about my own physical ability.
During the summer and early fall of 2011 I marveled at the physical ability of a friend as they battled through Stage 4 Cancer and accomplished physical things no one thought possible. Simply put, I became inspired.
As my friend’s body and battle weakened, somehow I became stronger. I started recognizing the body God gave me and the potential I had not yet been brave enough to utilize.
Before I go any further about this journey I must share that I am (emphatically said) the ‘excuses’ girl. Too tired, too cold, did not have enough to eat, don’t want to pull a muscle, tomorrow … You name it, I’ve said it. Yet somehow (sadly) this friend’s journey changed that piece of my brain forever.
I am happy to report that within days of this being read I will have completed three Half Marathons (13.1 mile races) within 28 days.
Me … a girl who two years ago could not run for 90 seconds (literally) without feeling winded, exhausted and defeated.
My friend’s journey however, taught me that once we harmonize the human spirit with the physical body, anything is possible. Yes, of course it takes dedication and determination, but once those two critical pieces are united the sky is the limit.
Admittedly, I never understood people who voluntarily paid to participate in organized races. As a ‘fundraising’ fool, I will even confess that I judged them and thought them foolish. I can remember stating to a friend, “What’s the big deal, they pay someone so they can go run or bike? They should put that money towards a cause and do some good.”
Truth is ... they were. They were the cause. They were investing it in themselves, their health, their mental well-being, their ‘hobby’ if you will.
Finally seeing the light, I recently sent one such friend an ‘I get it’ e-mail of sorts. Within its text I shared that I never understood the ‘just because’ factor (which I now do). His response was simple yet perfect and within its text he shared it is ‘not just because, but because I can.’
Therein lies the beauty of it all: the ‘I can.’ It has been proven that weight, activity and a stress free life are important pieces to not only being healthy but living a ‘cancer’ free life. Truth: we all have the gene and only time tells when it gets called up to be active and change one’s life forever.
With that said, as I watched my buddy fight like the warrior he was … I vowed to do the same. This is no longer a choice for ‘excuses girl,’ it is now the only option. So yes to put it simply … I run from cancer.
Honestly, who knows if it is a race I will ultimately win. My hope is that it is, but in living my everyday life from here forward I am grateful that I have been shown through another’s battle the ability I had all along.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.