Thursday, May 4, 2006

Reflections



This is Matthew. Isn't he handsome? (Sorry, Matthew! But you are! Your mom will agree with me!)

Matthew has been our team honored hero this season, and he is going to be my personal honored hero for Chicago next season.

He is an incredibly strong, brave young man who is battling Leukemia. For the second time. Visit his site and read about him and his family. Please sign his guestbook and tell him that you stopped by. He loves to read the messages.

His strength to fight his battle against cancer, and his drive to live life, stuns and amazes me. He is my driving force, my inspiration, my reminder of what is really important in life. I am honored to cross the finish line in Indy on his behalf. He truly is a hero.

His mother, Nancy, is also a hero in my eyes. She is one of the nicest people I have ever met. After spending a few hours with her you feel like you have known her your whole life. Her strength just radiates from her, and you leave her presence feeling like you can accomplish anything. I have no idea how she handles everything that life has handed her. She is a very special person and I am honored to know her.

When I first attended the TNT informational meeting back in January, it was with one goal, and one goal only, in mind. I wanted to run a marathon, but figured I'd need some help with the motivation. So, I thought running a half marathon with TNT was a good place to start. Then, with that under my belt, I figured I'd be able to keep going on to a full marathon.

I'm ashamed to report that my motives were selfish. It was simply the means to an end for me. But, that attitude didn't last very long.

The TNT staff went over the details of TNT and the endurance events. Then they invited the honored heros up to the front of the room. So, up walked Nancy and Matthew.

She stood up there and began talking about Matthew. She described his diagnoses with A.L.L., his battles with chemo, his remission, and sadly, his relapse. Then on to describe the heart wrenching decision of what treatment option to undertake the second time. She stood up there and described her son, and how he was a runner, and how strong he is, and how his motto is to never give up.

By the time she was done speaking, there was not a dry eye in the house. And it was in that moment, that my focus changed. It was no longer about me. It was about doing everything I could to help ease the pain and suffering of Matthew, of his family, of children like him everywhere.

It was about crossing that finish line in honor of Matthew's life. It was about raising as much money as I could to help with research to find a cure for blood cancers.

It was about the struggle that I was about to take on, to train to run 13.1 miles, as a symbol of the struggle that these children face on a daily basis. They have no choice. They have to go through unimaginable things, and they have no choice. For if they don't, they will die.

My training felt like a roller coaster. Good Runs, and bad. Victory, and defeat. Laughter, and tears. I've had so many ups and downs throughout the past 4 months. Some days I wanted to quit. Some days I never wanted to stop. But overall, it has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I can't even begin to capture it in words.

This experience has taught me so many thing. I have learned that I am much stronger than I thought I was. That I am capable of so much more than I ever thought possible. And I will carry the confidence that I have gained into the rest of my life. For the first time in my life, I truly feel as if I am capable of doing anything that I set my mind to. My new words to live by are: Never underestimate your abilities. Don't sell yourself short. And NEVER GIVE UP!! (Adopted from Matthew!)

I am woman, hear me roar!

And that marks the conclusion of my TNT training. I will finish my last 2 mile training run this afternoon, and attend the last team social this evening. The team is getting together at a local ice cream place for some yummy treats and to hang out with Matthew.

I can't believe it's over.

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