How it all started

I recently posted a before and after picture of myself on facebook and immediately received countless messages asking how I got started and how I stay motivated.

A picture says a thousand words. Stress and depression had me eating all the wrong things, sedentary and worrying/prioritizing everyone else above me and my own health. Amazing that while promising Sissy to do all that I could to beat #cancer in her (and my Mommas) memory... She may have actually saved MY life in doing so. #iloveyou #teamintraining #lls #mimismiles #runnergirls #runners #runumother #triathlon What can one year and a half do for you? How many lives can you save in one year and a half? Can your life be one? TRI with me and find out! #join

A picture says a thousand words. Stress and depression had me eating all the wrong things, sedentary and worrying/prioritizing everyone else above me and my own health. Amazing that while promising Sissy to do all that I could to beat #cancer in her (and my Mommas) memory… She may have actually saved MY life in doing so. #iloveyou #teamintraining #lls #mimismiles #runnergirls #runners #runumother #triathlon What can one year and a half do for you? How many lives can you save in one year and a half? Can your life be one? TRI with me and find out! #join

So this is what happened. In a kingdom far far away, there was a princess. She had the perfect life full of love and happiness, friends and family. And one day an evil villain – named CANCER – came and took it all away from her.

It was the year 2006, Fourth of July Weekend and the whole family went to South Padre Island for what would be our last family vacation together. Ever. Over casual conversation on the deck, Momma had mentioned that she thought she had hemorrhoids and problems with constipation. *I know… not exactly vacay conversation but this is how it all started*

It was that next week that she went to the doctor and found out that she had stage IV colon cancer.

On December 12, a special day for Momma because of her deep faith – the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, she had surgery at MD Anderson. As she awoke, Dad and I were by her side. Groggily she asked, “Did they do it? Did they take my colon out?”

Dad stoicly responded, “Yes, Meem (his nickname for her), they took it. They took your colon. But I will always be your asshole.”

And she smiled again.

She remained strong and almost looked forward to chemo so that she could beat it. She never let anyone see her down or struggle in pain. She never allowed anyone to see her throw up. She never let people know that she was upset that she lost her hair. She never gave up. Never.

Sissy, Donny and I managed things at home while she was away in Houston. Stress was getting to all three of us. In our minds, we were never as strong as Momma. Sissy kept complaining of feeling weak, tired and that her “tailbone” hurt. And then she fell. That’s when test showed she had leukemia.

Sissy never married. She had no children. She had no caretaker. In fact, her best friend, Janie, had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and she was acting as her caretaker. Take note of this – My Momma, who had cancer already, stepped up and became Sissy’s caretaker. This shows the character and strength and faith of my mother.

Momma carefully scheduled both of their chemos as to not conflict with each other so that Momma could be strong enough to be there for Sissy when she needed her.

waiting room

We had lots of ups and downs. Sissy was told she was cancer-free twice. Mom was never given that news. Donny, my baby brother took the stress of it all harder than any of us. He moved down from San Antonio, was going through a divorce and was notified of a layoff in a few months. It was too much for him. He died suddenly of a stroke. However, Momma kept fighting. The time came when it was too much and I dropped all that I was doing to step in. Momma was told she had to go in for gamma laser surgery to remove 5 tumors from her brain – the cause for her falls recently.

Momma snapped a picture of herself with her phone and sent it to me reassuring me that it looked worse than it really was. She kept saying it was fine.

Momma snapped a picture of herself with her phone and sent it to me reassuring me that it looked worse than it really was. She kept saying it was fine.

But she wasn’t. They ended up finding nine tumors total that morning. Cancer was spreading quickly throughout her body… all over her body.

With a "crown" drilled into her head and ready to go into brain surgery, Momma still managed to snap a picture of herself to me letting me see that she was smiling and ok.

With a “crown” drilled into her head and ready to go into brain surgery, Momma still managed to snap a picture of herself to me letting me see that she was smiling and ok.

While Momma was down in the basement of MD Anderson in surgery, I was up in Sissy’s room with her.

While you may not believe me at first, I really am quite naturally an introvert and enjoy quiet time to myself so I’ve always been ok with the long 6-7 hour drive from home to MD Anderson. The moment I reach Buc-Ees, I always called Mom and Sissy to let them know I was just around the corner. On that particular visit, I sent them a picture of a tree hanging on the wall as I entered the girls bathroom. You can see my reflection in the glass.

Life in not a race but indeed a journey

We had the best heart to heart that day. She told me about all the wild and crazy times she had dancing at bars in Mexico – this was shocking to me because all my life I thought Sissy lived the life of a nun! She also told me that she had noticed a decline in my health, weight gain and serious stress on me since the death of my baby brother, Donny. She told me that I needed to take better care of myself because life was only going to get harder on me. She said I needed to find a healthy outlet for all this stress that was to come.

She blurted out “Why don’t you take up running?”

I blurted out “Running?!?! Why couldn’t you pick zumba?”

She passed away two weeks later but not until I was able to drive up there and walk into her room. Momma was in another section of the hospital getting her treatment. Their cousin Cynthia was in the room. (She lived in Houston and was there with them every single chance she got) Immediately, I grabbed Sissy’s hands. “I’m here now Sissy. I’m here now. Don’t you worry about me. I’m going to start running for you… because of you. And as long as I can, I won’t ever stop for you… because of you. I promise.” And then she took her last breath.

Two weeks later, I was cleaning out her house, packing up all her belongings when a box fell on my foot. I opened up the box and there was the picture of the tree with the Buc-Ees price tag dangling from it. I had not started running and to me, that was a sign from her telling me to get on the ball. That was enough to get me to Valley Running Company and buy my very first pair of Saucony running shoes.

When you make a promise like that… how can you break it?
That’s how I started. That’s my motivation to continue.
I don’t wish it upon anyone.

Click HERE to donate online and help me keep my promise to Sissy.
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2 Responses to “How it all started”

  1. Wow, I LOVE THIS! I’m sorry for your losses. You brought tears to my eyes because I miss my momma so much too!

    Like

  2. c.cardenas Says:

    I had an uncle in Mexico fall to colon cancer and my daughter’s godmother fall to breast cancer. i felt their pain. never stop runnning missy.

    Like

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