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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Living Proof

With the marathon having come and gone, I've sat down to write on a few occasions, but for various reasons, I haven't been able to finish a new posting. I used to do a lot of thinking while on my long runs, and I haven't done any big runs so my "thinking" has been a bit absent. Or lacking focus. The weather has been pretty good so I haven't been able to complain about that, either. It's a crazy time of year with sports and school, too, so finding the right time to sit down and concentrate has been absent, too. This past weekend, however, has given me reason to write.

We gathered this past weekend to ride in the Brain Tumor Ride for Research for the 6th year. My brother, John, started our team in 2005 when 6 of us gathered to ride. We've come back every year since, and to date, have raised over $115,000 to the National Brain Tumor Society to fund research and patient programs. This year, the ride was a bittersweet occasion in that May 16 marked the one year "anniversary" of John's death. While John was on our minds and in our hearts, riding for he and Molly felt like the right thing to be doing on that day. In some way, at least for me, it made that "anniversary" a little easier to be participating in a cause that John and Molly felt to be important.

The other important lesson I took from the weekend was from my sister, Mary, who hopped on a bike and finished the ride when she had every good reason to kick back and take it easy. After 2 years of ongoing treatment which includes a total hip replacement, Mary did not shrink from participating in the ride this year. She had been training for this weekend for the past couple of months, even while feeling terrible from her treatment. She did not hesitate get up here and participate on Sunday morning, and she banged out the miles without a problem and without a complaint.

Mary was last here in April when she was kind enough and thoughtful enough to make a quick trip to support me during the marathon, and then head right out of town to get to Nashville for her appointments. She had follow-up scans in Nashville to see how her current treatment was going. Unfortunately, she heard the dreaded "progression of disease" talk from them and was taken off the treatment. With some guidance and a lot of independent research, Mary set out to explore the various options out there. The long and short of it is that she recently found out that she is eligible for a treatment at the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. She had to have blood work and scans to see if she met the criteria to participate, and she is. The waiting game, 4 weeks later, continues as she waits to hear when she can get up there and get rolling.

And so, seeing Mary, without hesitation, get back up to Boston and finish the ride again this year is humbling. Mary did this because she believes in the research, she believes in the cause, she believes in our family, and she believes in herself. Mary was one of those people that I wrote about after the marathon....the "Living Proof" team members who are cancer survivors or current patients that are out there walking the walk. She raised over $6000 independently, too, and was the top fundraiser on our team by a long shot. And she does all of this research and training and healing all while keeping up with a full-time job, and devoting a lot of energy to being an amazing friend, sister, and daughter on top of it all. Without complaint. Her attitude and behavior is the epitome of inspiring. It reminds us to do what we can to make positive changes, and to get up each day, no matter what the circumstances, and keep moving forward.

Mary, this weekend and every day, reminds me of what it means to Be good. Be strong.