(Warning: Mushy Blog Ahead)
As many of you know, I’m part of a really special group of women called Team GDT. In 2004, the team was founded by 9 women from an internet message board who wanted to run a 5K and raise some cash for breast cancer. Today, our team has over 60 members, and to date, we have raised over $117,000 for the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure in Boston.
I joined the team in 2005. I wanted to run a 5K, I had met some of these women and they seemed normal, plus the race was near me, so if they turned out to be crazy I could easily hightail it home. It was a lot of fun and games, and we were raising some cash and having a good time with everything, when one of our team members told everyone she had breast cancer. That really put our goal into perspective, and we ramped up our fundraising efforts to become the second largest fundraising team per capita.
Every year, the number of loved ones of team members who are battling or have lost the breast cancer battle seems to grow. And, frankly, it sucks. Its never easy to hear about a 28 year old with cancer, or a mom with two kids struggling through chemo. Sometimes the task is daunting. We try and raise every dime we can, yet people are still suffering. Its hard not to get frustrated, but its important to remember that this will be a long journey, and every dollar counts and helps. Like some rapper on my iPod says “Life ain’t a track meet — its a marathon.” As is the battle against breast cancer.
So, for the past two Septembers, I’ve stepped up my fundraising efforts, bid on crazy auctions (causing J to say “You spent how much on jam?!?”), and hounded, er, politely asked, my friends and family for any extra cash they have. And I meet my team in Boston, and drink and eat and laugh with them, as they are no longer invisible people who I was apprehensive about meeting, but true friends who I love to share my days, and a weekend in the fall, with.
And on Sunday morning, I watch the survivors in their pink tees line up on stage and be recognized. All ages, all races, all walks of life. All surviving this awful disease. I run behind hundreds of people honoring their loved ones. Their moms, their aunts, their best friends. People that are missed every day when they’re gone, and heroes every day they are here.
I’m in awe of the survivors, many who run this race faster than I, a healthy 28 year old, could ever run. After their bodies were subjected to things no human body should have to suffer through. They stand song, and run or walk as hard as they can, happy to be alive on a bright fall morning, happy to be here with friends and family for another day.
I’ve often wondered how strong I would be if I became ill. Would I just lay there and take it, or would I fight with every ounce of my being? There are days I hate running, but how would I feel if someone told me I couldn’t run anymore? The people who stand in their pink shirts on race day are true heroes.
Its so easy to get wrapped up in the fun of this race weekend — seeing old friends, wagering on who will raise the most money, eating all the free samples, trying to beat your time last year. But its hard to forget the survivors, and even harder to forget those we’ve lost to this awful disease. They really put what we’re fighting for at the forefront of our minds.
I run for a lot of different reasons — to blow off steam, to lose weight, to feel healthy. But on September 23rd I will run for life. For the lives of every man and woman affected by breast cancer. And I hope to one day not have to do it anymore.
“If you ask her why she is still running
She’ll tell you it makes her complete
I run for hope
I run to feel
I run for the truth
For all that is real
I run for your mother, your sister, your wife
I run for you and me, my friend
I run for life”
— Melissa Ethridge