“Good checkup today. Numbers still low, but I can start walking and eating some fruits again. Might be able to run within a month! I finally feel like I’m winning! Bye cancer!”
That is the exact text I received yesterday morning at 11:12am from a friend in the running group. Runners are an odd bunch. At least that’s what we are told from non-runners. Hey, to each his own recreational activities.
Here is what I can tell you unequivocally from those of us who choose running as a form of competitive catharsis: there is a bond among us which can never be broken. It’s like a lifetime membership. Sure, just like with any relationships we form in life, we will have those with whom we connect more so than others. And so it was with Brad. We didn’t talk much, as we ran (literally) in different circles. We’d utter the occasional “hey, how’s it going?” to one another, but that was about it.
I clearly remember the first time I met him – well, met the back of his head because he was pretty far ahead of me and my running partner as we were completing Yasso 800’s around the Jorgensen YMCA. Really, all I knew about Brad was that he was a fellow runner and therefore must be at least somewhat cool. After all, we had something in common.
Never once did I stop to think we would someday have cancer in common. That’s just it – none of us stop to think about it. Certainly none of us who are “in picture perfect health”…certainly not runners. We eat GU, drink protein shakes and were born in Kenya. How could we possibly ever get cancer? How could our parents possibly ever get cancer? Our neighbor or co-worker? Our best friend? Our son, our daughter, our children?
There is no picture. There is no rhyme or reason sometimes. Cancer does not discriminate. It just comes at you when you least expect it, kinda like mile 18 and those stupid @$$ hills.
I went to see Brad at the hospital when he was there for 8 days having chemo to rid his body of Hairy Cell Leukemia, an unusual cancer of the blood which affects B cells (type of white blood cells). I brought him a cherry slushy, as I remembered how much I craved those suckers after the chemo ran through me. I listened to him talk about his counts, his energy levels, his food intake, his mindset, and nodded in remembrance.
As hard as memory lane is sometimes, I am of the opinion we should all travel back there occasionally in the name of making the journey for others a little easier. Otherwise, that difficult terrain we each face at certain points in our lives would be totally wasted training.
Up yours hills, and up yours cancer. We’re going to beat you both.
Keep winning, Brad! Your fellow lifetime members are running and rooting for you in the meantime.