Sunday, October 11, 2009
It was a cool October 2009 morning in Long Beach. I was thankful I was still alive and healthy, waiting for the start of my first marathon. I still saw myself as a 52 year old cancer patient, but hours later when I crossed the finish line, I saw myself as a survivor!
Just six months earlier I had recovered enough from my last surgery to start training for a marathon. The surgery was a reconnection of my colon which needed to wait until I finished all my treatments for stage 3C colon cancer. These treatments began in January 2008 by removing the cancer, followed by many months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
To help deal with the effects of chemo, I took up walking, which eventually led to running. I progressed slowly, but on the morning before my last chemo infusion, I ran 2.5 miles. My doctor and nurses were really surprised. Although my running was interrupted several times during the next few months as I underwent radiation, more chemo, and another surgery, by April 2009 I was back on track with a far fetched hope of running in the October 2009 Long Beach Marathon, an ambition that nobody seemed to understand or at first take seriously. Considering what I went through, everyone advised me to start with a 5K or 10K, or maybe a half marathon at the most. But I was determined to make a point and only a marathon would do it.
The big day came and I was finally there, although underprepared and recovering from shin splints. As I was waiting for my start, I questioned myself, "Am I really going to be back here later to cross the finish line?" I really didn't know. But my only goal was to do just that, and within the six hour time limit. Then our wave started and I was moving forwards with the flow of hundreds of energetic people around me, realizing they all had their own unique stories and reasons for being there. I was overwhelmed and thought, "I can't believe I'm here! I'm really doing this." I thanked God.
I was committed for several reasons. I needed this to prove to myself that anything was possible and saw this as a victory run and run for hope. I also created a fundraiser page on the American Cancer Society's web site in connection to this effort and titled it, "Fighting Cancer, One Step at a Time." My goal was to raise $2,600, but only half was raised so far. But that would soon change.
It was tough, but I made it in 5 hours and 55 minutes. After posting a picture of my finish on the fundraiser site and re-emailing the link to my colleagues, the rest of the contributions came in and my goal of raising $2,600 was met. I ran two more marathons within 10 months (Surf City 4:48 and San Francisco 4:47) completing the "California Dream'n Racing Series" Now in a few days I'll be right back in Long Beach where this new addiction all started for me, running my fourth marathon in one year, and still with hope for a cancer free future.
to the First Marathons page