Sunday, June 7, 2009

Survivors To The Left

Susan G. Komen, from Illinois, died of breast cancer in 1980 at the age of 36. Her sister, Nancy, promised Susan that she would find a way to speed up breast cancer research and, founded in 1982, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The rest is history, with the foundation raising over $35 million a year.

Last year (this year too), the company where I work (Boeing) pledged $100 for every employee running the race and I became motivated to raise funds for the cause. As I became more aware and touched by the works of the foundation, I joined, I pledged and
I raced, feeling humble while running among hundreds of survivors. Six months later, for my total surprise, I was diagnosed.

This year, it was my story and I ran the race from the other side of the fence.

Dressed in pink, (a lot to say for a black-and-white lady), I joined my adorable son Diego, his fiancee Shelly, and my good friend Emily. I saw my good friend Melinda also in the start line. At 7:45 am we were set to go, and there we went. There were so many people, that I lost sight of my son. Melinda took off very fast, and Emily and I ran together the whole race. Thanks to her I could keep a decent pace. The Alaskan viaduct going uphill didn't look so bad, but when you run it under 8 min/mile, is going to look really bad later, even in the flat portions... The support was great all along the course with cheerleaders singing "Early detection is the best prevention" and "I am the Cure"...

After mile 2 I was panting but, thanks to Emily I still kept a good pace. If I would have been alone, I would have dropped my speed considerably.

Getting close to the finish line was quite a moment. The support to the runners and to the survivors was simply amazing. Just a third of a mile from the end I told Emily "let's sprint", but I think she didn't hear me. I can't describe what I was feeling. I was lost in my thoughts with flashes from last year's race. Today I would cross a different finish line. A sign indicates: "Survivors To The Left". When I heard, "another survivor crossing the line", I cried, and then I saw my son, right there waiting for me, and in an indescribable moment that I will never forget, we hugged each other, like saying, we have come a long way, in such a short time... And a press guy captured the moment. What a gift.

Six months ago, Diego was with me at the doctors' office, hearing those terrible words: You have a malignant tumor. Six months later, everything was happiness, and joy: His mom is a survivor.


Petraruns said...

What an amazing and inspiring post. YOu're incredible - and inspiring to us all. I can't believe all you have been through in such a short time but girl have you done yourself proud. Go GIRL!

Backofpack said...

Beautiful Lizzie Lee, simply beautiful.

ShirleyPerly said...

Wonderful post, Lizzie. Truly, you are so inspiring and beautiful. It does seem like such a short time in which to have to deal with so much.

And I have to also say that Save Second Base shirt is a RIOT!!

Susan said...

LL this is awesome! Fantastic! I am in awe of you and your outlook. Wow. And the photos are amazing! Good job. And what a wonderful son you have!

Anonymous said...

What a great moment. Though the paty you've traveled is not one any would choose you know from a completely different perspective how precious life is. You have insights that the rest of us don't have that can be used in a powerful way to impact the lives of others. Don't ever be hesitant to tell your story.

As for "the voice", you've traveled much farther than me so I'm confident you will know it when you hear it.

Girl on Top said...

I love that picture that was captured of you and your son!

Jamie said...

You're my hero! I shared your story at our weekly staff meeting here at Komen Puget Sound and the rest of the team was just as inspired as I was. Your strength is remarkable - who fits radiation in between a full days work and an evening run?! I thank you for sharing your Race Day perspective, both as a runner and as a new survivor. It reminds us why we do what we do! See you next June!

Jamie Newbold
Race for the Cure Manager
Komen Puget Sound