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July 14, 2008

Living Strong

Linsey_1_3 Yesterday, the Silicon Valley Moms team (consisting of myself, Ana and Courtney) from the Silicon Valley Moms Blog met up for the Livestrong Challenge 5K Walk/Run in San Jose. No, it was not 2000 miles, like our fellow Silicon Valley Moms Group bloggers and road trippers...it was only a 5K (about 3 miles). We may not be getting interviewed by the morning news, taking hilarious videos or logging miles with cool technology, but we were doing something important. We were picking a fight. Oh, and we "met" Lance Armstrong. Check out Courtney's story here (did I mention she raised $1,500? Go Courtney!). Ana is showing her support here. For Linsey's story, read on...

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I send a text to about 6:50 am to let Ana and Courtney know that I am standing by bag check and next to a sign that says "Starbucks -->" (tempting...). Ana originally organized us Silicon Valley Moms as a team and here we are. I see a cute girl who has a "I'm a Survivor - 11 YEARS!" and I ask her where she got it. She points and I head that direction, feeling a bit lame because......

I was leaving where I had just texted Ana and Courtney telling them where I was. I quickly get my Survivor tag, write "For 7 Years!" on it, head back and see the cute girl standing by the Starbucks sign. She has her phone in her hand and says "Are you Linsey?" Ha! It is Courtney, turns out. (We have not met before...such is the blogosphere at times). We talk about our respective cancer experiences, blogging, coffee drinking habits, our kids. Ana soon arrives - apparently she had slept in a bit (the one who organizes gets to be late).

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Fast forward to 7:30am - We wander over to the start line for the start. Yellow balloons everywhere. Many survivor tags on bikers and runners. I see one that says "15 months..." As in, and counting and hoping and holding. Many "In memory of" and "In honor of" tags. We suddenly hear Lance's name. Huh? We look over and see Lance himself about to take off. I have watched many a Tour de France with Lance climbing those hills and gripping those handlebars, but to be 5 feet away from him is pretty amazing. I didn't even know he was going to be there, so it is a nice surprise. He's right - it's not about the bike. But still.

We watch the bikers start - the 100 mile and 10 mile riders. Many kids are out there for the 10 mile ride. How cool is that? I can't wait to start taking my kids to races (not in a jogging stroller!). How exciting for a kid. And probably really tough.

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7:45am and the 5K runners and walkers are off. We are accompanied by cancer patients survivors being pulled in wagons by bikers, cheering and waving and inspiring. The wagons are decorated with all kinds of yellow signs and banners. Ana, Courtney and I are all different paces, so we split up. Along the course I think a lot about people currently going through treatment for cancer, those recently diagnosed, recently in remission and surviving. I remember sadly two of my friends who have passed away from terrible lung cancer just in the past year - both were new mothers, Beth lived 2 months, Sarah lived 9 months. I thought of all the great women that I am getting to know on the new Mothers With Cancer blog I am a part of. Being a lymphoma survivor, I have done many races (marathons, bike races, triathlons) with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training in the past, so am quite familiar with the waves of emotion that tend to hit me as I plod along a race course. It can be tough. Not as tough as cancer treatment, that's for sure. But today feels really good as well. I am not sure exactly why, but it is somehow different than my previous races. I feel very proud to be wearing that "Survivor" tag and to see all the other survivors around me. Instead of feeling like a poster child for pity, I feel incredibly empowered. I am thankful that I am one of the lucky ones that get to live, to enjoy my children and a very full life. Post-cancer, I try to live my life not for the small minute details, but the big picture of the relationships I have. Carpe diem indeed.

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8:18am - Those 3 weeks off from boot camp are showing a bit and I really have to push it toward the end a bit. I see the overhead balloons for the finish line and a sign that says "Cancer Survivors go to the right." I head to the right and receive a lovely yellow rose. I love flowers! How nice. My finish time is about 30 minutes, I think. About right for a race pace for me, so I'm pleased. I see Ana just in front of me. We go through the "showers" - ahhh, that feels good in the heat. We talk about Ana's friends whose daughter has just been diagnosed with AML. Courtney soon follows and we tour the post-race festivities, grab some food, water, coffee. We part ways to go home to our respective families and the Sunday activities. Later, I hear from Ana that she ended up staying until Lance finished his 65 mile ride (only 65 miles?!) - she caught a cute photo of his butt. Actually a quite familiar sight to Lance's competitors, I am sure. 

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I really liked this race from a survivor perspective. I like that it includes all cancers. I like that it really and truly celebrates survivors. I like that it remembers those who have passed and who survived when they were living. I encourage survivors, patients and their supporters to, in the words of the Livestrong Foundation, "pick a fight." This one is important.

Original Silicon Valley Moms Blog post. Linsey survives and thrives at Me Too You, Whereas, Mad About Multiples and Mothers With Cancer.

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