Here is my journey to the marathon…
It was October 12th 2008 and we were downtown cheering on my brother who was running the Chicago Marathon. Feeling the excitement of the day and watching as thousands of athletes accomplish their goal of finishing, I decided then (not knowing what lies ahead for me) to run the 2009 Chicago Marathon.
…I went to the Doctor a few days prior to the marathon for some uncontrollable itchiness which I thought was an allergy to my laundry detergent and a small lump in my neck. The doctor disregarded my itching, but wanted to check out the lump in my neck so he ordered a CT scan for October 13th. The day after the ’08 marathon I thought I was going to go in for the scan and, be told everything, is fine, it is just a swollen gland, but to my surprise, I received a phone call few hours after the scan and was told that I need to come in the following day to get my results. That couldn’t be good! I went in the next day to get my results… my physician had set up an appointment for a biopsy. He said they think its Lymphoma and that they have to biopsy it to determine what kind. The biopsy results came back and I was told that I have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
The thought of running a marathon was now the furthest thing from my mind. Now I had to deal with the fact that I have cancer.
I underwent more tests and scans and was now going to be starting chemo therapy. While I was sitting in a room getting my “wonderful” treatment, I saw a pamphlet on the wall for Imerman Angels. Now, I was doing pretty well with my chemo. Physically, I was doing pretty good, recovering rather quickly from each treatment, only felt “HORIBLE” for about 6 days every other week… but I wanted to talk to someone who knew what I was dealing with. So I called Imerman Angels and left a message describing my diagnosis. To my surprise, I received a call from Jonny about an hour later. We talked for about a half hour about everything. It was like I had known him forever. He came to my next treatment and that’s where my IA experience began.
4 months after starting chemo, I had more scans to stage my progress and everything came back clear. I was now cancer free and only had 4 more treatments to finish. I now had more to look forward to, a new life, a life as a survivor. What was I going to do after cancer? I remember the doctors telling me that working out and exercising helps the body recover from chemo, so at that point I decided I was going to run. The thought of running the ’09 Chicago Marathon started to look like it may be possible… so I registered. Timing couldn’t have been any better. I had my last treatment scheduled for April 23rd, 24 weeks before the race. That would give me 4 weeks to recover from chemo and 20 weeks to train.
Well, I gave myself about 2 weeks to recover. I knew I would need the extra time to train, considering I was never an avid runner. I didn’t know what to expect, would I be able to do it? Would I be able to run the grueling 26.2 miles? I had to do it. I wanted to prove to myself that I was healthy. That I had a new lease on life. That I was a survivor. That I could accomplish what I set out to do.
Training for the marathon was HARD. As the weeks passed and the mileage increased, I had doubts that I was going to be able to finish. The longest I made it through the entire 20 week training process was 16 miles. And after those 16 miles, I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk again… The big day came and I was ready, or at least as ready as I was going to be. I just wanted to finish, I knew I wasn’t going to going break any records. I just wanted to cross the finish line and know that having cancer wasn’t going to stop me.
Well…I did it! 4:59:08 after starting, I crossed the finish. 26.2 MILES. 20 weeks of training. 24 weeks after my last treatment.
I am now a cancer survivor and am looking forward to what lies ahead…