Earlier I wrote about my running sole-mate, Yvonne. Last month she was diagnosed with stage three triple negative breast cancer. We were all in shock, disbelief and I am sure those of you who have been through this completely understand.
Interestingly, this is not my first bout with someone having breast cancer, but it affected me the most.
I am not sure if it is because she is my running sole-mate, or if it is the fact that people say we look like sisters, or if sweat is just as thick as blood or the fact that I eat French fries off of her plate without asking or maybe because she talked me into doing the Marine Corps marathon a second time when I specifically declared that I was NOT running another marathon until I was 70 and I will not be 70 this October. I cannot explain it, but I took it hard and I swear time stood still absorbing all of the air around me. I stopped breathing. So I can only imagine what she was feeling.
We cried at the beginning of our first runs at first. Then they became more of chats about what she would eat. Then should she rock the baldhead, or get a wig (real hair, synthetic, lace front, etc.)? Were scarves the answer? Would chemo make her sick? Who would bring food? And most importantly-what size breasts should she get? Her daughters are voting for triple Ds.
I am waiting for her port to heal so she can get it wet with sweat and she can run again. I am aware that runs will be different. Maybe not from a pace or distance perspective, but from a knowledge one. I am now more aware now that deep within our bodies there are cells that can harm us. I will never look at another runner the same. I will pay more attention to the sunrise, the sunset, look harder for the dolphins, count the cracks in the sidewalk, make a more concerted effort to speak to those who run by me, even those who do not appear to notice me.
Now even when I run alone, my runs have more depth. I do not take my steps for granted. I no longer categorize any as ugly, hard, or pointless. It will never again be about the clock. It will be about celebrating the fact that once again I have been granted the ability to eat my miles for miles. Running for me now is a privilege that I understand more fully that may be revoked or amended at any given moment.
I am hoping to be able to run with Yvonne soon. She will want to see my tattoo again now that it is healed. I am sure we will laugh and I am sure she will fill me in on her treatments. I am also sure we will both be silent pondering the days to come. One thing for sure, it will be great to once again breathe the same air in the same space as my running sole-mate. Go Team Yvonne.
Have you or someone you know lived through cancer to run again?