Guest Blogger Nancy Cook
This blogpost was originally written for the DetermiNators.org blog – a blog by and for American Cancer Society Determination athletes dedicated to fighting cancer. As a proud San Francisco Marathon ambassador I am so excited to run the SF Marathon this July for the first time. It another one of those “must-do” bucket list marathons! Thanks for reading – please leave a comment at the end!:)
It will be 2 years in July that I was in the doctor’s office and I heard those words “You have cancer”. It has been a little more than a year that my chemo treatments ended, they thought they found more cancer in my spleen and removed it. It could be that I continue to be in denial and “running” has helped me deal mentally and physically with being faced with cancer. Am I running away from reality? Maybe.
But maybe not. Maybe that is the best way I know how to deal with the stress and working to make my body healthier. People thought I was pretty nuts running throughout my treatment, finishing the Chicago marathon 2/3 of the way through chemo and then finishing Boston 6 weeks after they took my spleen. Maybe I am crazy. A crazy survivor that is!
Everyone deals with this disease differently. Most get scared, some get depressed, some get angry, and some just want to fight back. Or in my case and most cases we experience all of the above. And when do you call yourself a survivor anyway? In my mind, any day
after you hear those words — you are a survivor. After you walk out that door no matter what the next months bring, you are a survivor. After you are done treatments – you are a survivor. They killed it all and they say there is no more cancer? You are in remission and now it feels like it – you have earned your wings – a survivor
So what does it mean to give back? Why give back as a cancer survivor?. I remember after finishing
Boston last year with all that adversity and still a healthy 3:30 finish time (20 minutes faster than my age “BQ” – Boston qualifier) – I amazed myself – dressed in my Wonder Woman outfit and all. After “it” was all done, I didn’t continue to blog much, I felt my story was “over” – but what I realized is that my story was taking on a new life. A life of a survivor. Fighting Back & Celebrating Life.
What message can I send to others as a cancer survivor – a STRONG survivor. One of my quotes through my cancer journey was “If you have hope, you can share hope, and if you inspire others they will in turn inspire you”. This past week in Dallas – I read it on a Relay For Life Survivor tshirt “I AM HOPE” – Loved the message! I want to inspire and spread
hope. This is forefront in my mind. I want to share my story and help anyone that may need my words to build up their own hope- I want to share it. In less than one year I have felt the strength of spreading hope. Not just from speaking and sharing my story, but from first hand experiences. First I reached out and encouraged my friend Barbara who had breast cancer a few months after my diagnosis. Then another friend from college, Cheryl was faced with stage 4 breast cancer and a double mastectomy after her chemo. Both of these women proved to be amazing “Wonder Women” in the face of cancer. I was so proud of them. My friend Sasha was stricken with grief when she lost her friend Crissy. I reached out to comfort her and carry Crissy’s ribbon on my “Cape of Hope” Again just recently my friend Susan informed me she is facing a breast cancer diagnosis and is “joining the club”. Then at Mount Snow I was introduced to my friend, a fellow ski coach Mike’s mom. She was so worried and stressed with her diagnosis. After talking to my husband and me she felt so much better and had hope that everything would be ok – and she would be able to get through it. Last but not least I found out today that my dear friend Lily, the sister of
fellow Dream Team Boston marathoner & SF Marathon Ambassador, Charlie, was diagnosed with cancer this week. This news struck me hard this time. When will it stop! Each and everyone of these people have truly inspired me and have made me even stronger and so blessed to have them as friends — and I am so glad to be a live to be there for each one of them & share that there is hope.
We need to keep fighting. We need to keep raising the much-needed funds to find a cure and give strength and answers to our friends, who ever they are to get through their own battle with the disease. We need to advocate for affordable health care and laws that support the fight against cancer.
Please continue to raise the dollars and share your story of why you run for the American Cancer Society DetermiNation team. Share the hope of more birthdays for more people. It will be my 8th Boston marathon, my 27th marathon and my 8th DetermiNation effort. So far we have raised almost $8500 as the Dream Team ! I looked at the group of people who
are running for DNation in Boston — at least 3 other cancer survivors in addition to me – are sharing their stories, sharing hope —- on the line to raise funds for the Society and fight back. The others all have a personal connection — very close connection — and are repeat runners — fighting each year to find a cure.