I have been doing the CIBC Run for the Cure since the year I was in cancer treatment, which makes this my 14th year. Mostly now I do it to remember (and prove to myself) I can, and to stay grateful that I am alive.
To be honest, it has lost its heart.
And that makes me sad, because when I first did it, it had such meaning for me. I felt hope, and connection, a part of something bigger than me and that I was not alone in the fight.
Fortunately, during the 2012 run something changed. Something big. As I ran to the finish line, all wrapped in pink feather boas, I sailed past a bald woman in her pick shirt. She looked determined and sad, open and raw. She was the real deal, and in the middle of her fight, wanting to hope but feeling so scared. It was written all over her face. After I reached the finish line, arms up in celebration, I had to go back. To find her. To talk to her.
Just seeing her vulnerability moved me deeply, and cracked me wide open. We talked a little, never exchanging names, but sharing our full hearts instead. She admitted she was scared. I told her that I was, too, when I went through it. She stared at me, so healthy, so alive… you? You went through cancer? “Yes. Yes, I did. And I am living proof that it is survivable. Now, today, I run for you, so that you know you are not alone, and you know that this disease can be beaten.” The tears in her eyes were all I needed to know I had done some good.
Our picture together continues to inspire me, and inspires what I am up to now, for the 2014 run!
You see, early on in my treatment, when I was submerged in the deficit, the loss, and the hopelessness of cancer, I was scared of what my future held … or didn’t. I saw myself as a liability and I wondered who would hire me or who would date me. I thought I would have to live life on the sidelines, watching everyone else have fun, meaningful experiences, while I spectated; always an outsider, it felt like my life was already over. I felt (among other things) frightened, isolated and damaged.
It felt like I didn’t matter any more, that my life didn’t matter, that I was no longer significant.
Fortunately through the love of a great number of people and a series of powerful experiences, I came to see what crazy thinking that was.
That in fact I do matter, my life matters and I am significant.
And that is not just true for me. That is true for everyone. In the last year my heart has opened up to wanting to really bring that message to the world … I just didn’t know how.
But this year it came to me. In honour of my brave friend, the woman whose name I may never know, I want to organize my run team, Team Signy, in a different way.
I want to bring together runners: those people that might have run anyway, that have run in the past, that make it a point to honour this day and this event with their commitment … and partner them with women who are presently fighting the good fight. Women who are in treatment and as a result, or for other reasons, can’t run for themselves, but perhaps need that hope, that connection, that possibility more than anyone else, because they are feeling alone and scared.
Frequently I have gone on record to say that we can’t do cancer alone. Because cancer is a disease of isolation, the coming together, the community, and the connection is what helps to beat cancer, what helps to make lives with cancer tolerable, and what inspires us to keep fighting even on the tough days (and there are so many tough days).
So I want these partners to know each other, to meet, to have a chance to connect, and to really talk about what this experience of cancer is like; about what gives them hope, about dreams and possibilities. I want to end the isolation, one person at a time if need be. Because each of them matter. Each of us matter. I matter, you matter, and it is together, sharing the stories, that we will know that, really know that, and I believe that will make all the difference.
Here’s how you can become involved:
- Financially by donating to Team Signy
- Energy, resource or time (click here to see more on what I mean by that)
- Are you ready to run? Are you who we are running for? Sign up to run on Team Signy or see more information on how you can help
- Spread the word
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