Send off Mission Moment

So it’s send off time. This is when the team gets all the instructions for hotel stay, meetings, check ins, and everything else for game day…. CapTexTri.

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We all meet at Cordon’s. It’s a beautiful day and we’re all outside.. and it’s mission moment. This is the third time I’ve been asked to do a mission moment in my history of Team in Training. The following is what I said:

 

March 21, 2012

quit (verb) – to stop trying, struggling, or the like; accept or acknowledge defeat.

These past two weeks were emotionally difficult for me. I saw my usually vivacious, super-power infused mother weak, frail and suffering. Whatever was in this last treatment knocked everything out of her. I could get my thumb and touch it with my index finger and her leg could fit right through it. Her hair has now fallen off and her normally wrinkle free olive skin has an odd grayish/yellow tint to it.

I was worried – really worried – for the first time ever. So I spent the weekend with her and then called her main doctor at MD Anderson. After questioning me about her symptoms, we agreed that it was best for her to return to Houston for a week so he could monitor her better under medical staff care. I was not comforted by his concern.

She grabbed my hand and squeezed it with all her might and looked me straight in the eyes and said “I’m worried about Myssie. She has so much on her plate right now. Can you keep an eye on her and help out?”

We had been warned that her memory functions may be lost as a result of her last radiation treatment. I don’t know who she thought I was at the time but I was glad that I had the strength and courage not to have the shock and sadness show in my reaction to her as I replied with “I will Momma, I will. Don’t you worry. I’ll take good care of her.”

That was Sunday about noon time. They drove to MD Anderson on Sunday afternoon and met with her doctor on Monday morning.

I was sitting at my desk working on a proposal for a client of mine just shortly before lunch. I had a ton of meetings scheduled and needed tons more to make my quota. The stress was insane. That’s when I got the phone call from Dad.

“Myssie, can you talk?”

“Yes Daddy. What did the doctor say?”

“It’s not good. There’s nothing more that they can do. We’re coming home…. right now. They’ve released her to hospice. We’ll be home about 6:30.”

There must have been at least a year of silence after that. I was crushed.

Why?

I was asked just days ago by my Team in Training coach why I was running. Why I was putting my body through this? What was I doing this for?

As silly as it may sound, part of me was hoping that God would see how hard I was trying. That He would see that I was willing to take the pain away from her and volunteer it onto me in order to not have her suffer any more. I wanted that pain and suffering to quit. I wanted cancer to quit. Because I wasn’t going to allow myself to quit. I would never quit.

Well, that was until I heard those words from my dad.

I did want to quit. I wanted so badly to throw in the towel and give up. Why should I run? Really, why should I? It’s not like running a marathon will produce a cure for my mom as I cross the finish line. What am I doing? I should just quit.

I thought long and hard about how to tell friends and family about the news. I wanted to be angry and blame everything from preservatives to toxic land for her suffering. But I am so glad I didn’t. I took a deep breath and took a step back and told myself now is how I must example the way she brought me up.

The following is what I posted to friends and family on my facebook wall:

Science and medicine has done all that it possibly can. Momma has shown incredible strength and faith through these tough 6-plus years. The choice to discontinue treatment does not mean that she has quit. It means that she is strong enough to accept God’s will and live the remainder of her life with her family and friends at home instead of hotel rooms and hospitals. I am so very proud of her bravery, so very thankful to her miraculous team of doctors and so very grateful for everyone’s prayers, kind gestures and help. Keep them coming.

See, my mother is not a quitter. Cancer will likely beat her body. But it won’t beat her. She’ll never quit. Her legacy will live on and continue to teach us, to love us and to give unto others. She never quit. And neither will I.

 

 

The last two and a half years I’ve spent running, swimming and biking alongside the most courageous, selfless and kind athletes in the world. Many of them were going through cancer treatment, had recently successfully beat cancer or were friends and/or family members of those who had lost their battle to cancer. Many of them. Too many of them. Way too many of them.

Two weeks ago, I walked 9.7 miles in and around our Nation’s Capitol pleading with our political leaders to help make cancer treatment more accessible and more affordable for cancer patients, MS patients, Alzheimer’s patients, Parkinson’s patients … and more. I was not alone there either. I begged alongside a TV celebrity, Ethan Zohn, the winner of the TV reality show Survivor, who really was a cancer survivor. But after he won the show, he found out that cancer stuck once again. He shared with me his completely candid and genuine emotions.

The whole world thought he was this tough guy, strong enough to beat cancer, strong enough to win in the brutal jungles of Survivor. He was a pillar of hope for those who were currently battling cancer. And suddenly he was scared again like a little boy. What was his fear? If he went public with his disease and DIDN’T win, what would that do to their hope?

Thankfully, he did go public and he did beat cancer a second time and he is still scared he’ll have to fight it again a third time. That fear looms over the head of cancer survivors all the time.  Until we find a cure, that fear will always be there… for every single one of us. None of us are immune.

As he spoke to us, everyone began to weep. Oncology doctors, nurses and social workers, LLS volunteers, family members and loved ones of those lost and survivors, like Ethan, all connected.

And that’s when I was asked “Are YOU a survivor?” and the woman next to me put her arm around me and replied “She lost all of her family except for her father to cancer in one year. She is a survivor. She is all that is left.”

Truth is, we are all survivors right now. We are all living with cancer. Because cancer doesn’t affect just the patient. It affects us all.  And until we find a cure for cancer, we have no choice but to keep living, keep fighting, keep running… keep TRIing.

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