Two down, ten to go!
I ran the Hyannis Half Marathon in honor of a 2-year-old whom I met at my radiation oncology clinic last June. The day before meeting him, I had attempted to run for the first time since finishing chemotherapy and recovering from pneumocystis pneumonia. Not surprisingly, I made it about one block before having to sit down, coughing and struggling to breathe. I felt like a fish out of water. Over and over, all I could think was, “This isn’t fair.” My heart has been battered by Adriamycin treatments and bombarded with toxic radiation. Bleomycin has permanently scarred my lungs, and my risk for secondary cancers and even relapsing again is incredibly high. Nothing about my situation seemed fair.
But then I met Lucas. He had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia when he was just six months old, and was receiving radiation as palliative care. Cancer cells were bursting outside of his marrow and breaking his bones; he had just weeks to live. After meeting Lucas, my world changed. I realized that no matter how much my lungs have degraded, all that matters is that they still inflate. Even if my heart has been abused by chemo, all I need is for it to beat. And regardless of the circumstances I have been given in the past, all I have to do is be grateful for what I have right now.
I went running again the same day I met Lucas and managed to run ten minutes without stopping. While ten minutes may not seem like much, that was a huge milestone for my previously tumor-ridden body. Now, eight months later, I can run over 13 miles without stopping. I shaved 40 minutes off of last month’s finish time, and I owe it all to Lucas. I will never forget this boy who taught me how to truly live. One day, there will be more treatment options.