Once many many years ago, when I was in college running on the cross country team, a friend and I talked about how people were focused on the wrong thing in this life. We had the naïve idealism of kids barely old enough to drink but we weren’t so much focused on changing the world but wanted everyone to convert to Christianity so that they could be ready for the next. I would say to her then that focusing on doing well in this life is like putting a bandaid on cancer. As I’ve said before in here, I’ve never once prayed to beat this but I do attend church (sit in the back) and have finally gotten the courage to join a small group there but I am turned off with people of all religions who work so hard at conversion to where it doesn’t sound much different than “I have a bigger God than yours.” There are those who have tried to get me to convert to their religion with what seems to be a sell of if you do, your will be easier. Whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or etc a cursory reading of all their scripture shows it didn’t go well for a whole lot of good people in there so I’m not sure where that idea comes from… But it went well enough to keep hope because they maintained connections to an Idea and to people who shared it.
Some of the slow news days about how I can still put one foot in front of the other continued in the last couple of weeks with ESPN (http://espn.go.com/sports/endurance/story/_/id/9467012/endurance-sports-brain-cancer-leon-running-life) and competitor magazine (http://running.competitor.com/2013/06/news/enjoying-the-ride_75176) covering the Beaumont win and a few other things. The ESPN piece has been one of my favorites because it catches many of the mistakes I made and the jokes I’ve made about them. And I’m still making mistakes and always will but sometimes the only way you get to get some things right is by looking at the mistakes. Another friend recently sent me an article even as I raise money for brain cancer research at the brainpower5k, that perhaps we make a mistake in looking at only the standouts in the cancer survivorship camp or in any other camp for that matter but that we should also focus on the mean, comparing that idea to when they would check the planes that came back well from World War II. According to this article, they would make changes to where they would be more resistant in the places where they’d been shot but pointed out brilliantly as to why that mattered since those planes had managed to stay up and return home… the data of those that were buried in rivers or collapsed into pieces on the ground may have been more useful… That sounds depressing of course but it’s why I signed up both to be followed and to donate my brain to science. Whichever camp I end up in and anyone who reads this knows where I place my bet, I hope that something about my brain will be useful to someone else down the line.
The George Clooney lifestyle continues with me still deathly afraid of commitment (poor choice of words at best I know) but still hanging onto sparks of humor once in a while even if sparks of hope don’t come that often. At the brainpower 5k we sat and laughed about many things with the survivor and there were some pictures taken by the survivor (my outfit was picked for me for the record) but we had some fun with it in a sole picture. But there some of those survivors are definitely admirable in ways I can never be. And there is something about those who are there because of deceased family/friends that long after someone is back honor them by fighting what took them much too young.
And for the first time in a year with what I hope will be my last legal payment in a while… and with only 4 medical appointments left all year and with the house getting refinanced, I’ve started crunching numbers. All in all, I am only 10k more in the hole than I was a year ago and if you count the scholarship fund that the Gusher marathon provided (it doesn’t pay any current bills) but it seems that starting soon, I may be able to start coming out in the black and refilling the hole, assuming nothing dramatically goes wrong.
One of the races that I got invited to and that I’m going to this weekend is the Spartan Race (Spartanrace.com). I got to do a spring here in Austin which whooped me and now invited to a super which is twice as long with more obstacles than the one I’m doing this weekend. As mostly a pure runner, I don’t do nearly enough upper body and core work and I’ve worked on some this week, not because I think it’ll get me into a huge difference but because I wanted to get into the right mentality that this is different. As I’ve said here before, I run because it’s somewhere it feels normal but I also sign up for these events because the distance is clear, the mile markers are too, you can look at elevation profiles, GPS watches that tell you how far you’ve gone and at what pace. You can throw all that out the window in Spartan races. There’s mud and water and obstacles that you have no idea when they are coming, what they are, how far apart they are and for relative rookies like me, how to do it. Keeping a constant rate is impossible even if you could keep a watch on because it’s not on a road but on terrain that has huge variety of things… Their local video camera crew talked to me on the one I did here and they said what would it take for you to not finish… and that took half a second to answer… that one is simply not negotiable.
There are days where I wonder if sitting here having raised a few thousand dollars for brain cancer research for these organizations matters much, or having raised some for awareness for Livestrong does. There are days where in frustration is high with things like hearing Kiana saying I wish you and mommy were still together because when I’m with you I miss her and when I’m with her I miss you. (To try to show her that mom and dad's tension had nothing to do with her, I brought her butterfly themed things since that's a connection point between them like lions are for her and I...and if you think I'm always disciplined the first thing I did when I saw her when I hadn't seen her for about a week was take her out for ice cream) There are days where I realize that 10K is what people I’ve met have spent in one month on cancer treatment. There are days where I realize not nearly enough people are fortunate enough to have the kind of community connections that I have which keep me going. And I think back of that conversation that maybe spirituality and focusing only on the after life would be more comforting, where maybe I could ignore the bandaid on the cancer and just look to another day where everything will be all right. I don’t know if that day is coming for me or for anyone but I know, I KNOW, as well as I know anything that today I had lunch with my daughter, that right now I am about to head out to an 8 mile training run. I have people I love dearly who have gone through dramatic diets or dramatic surgeries to help reduce weight or magically heal bad habits… I suppose it’s better than doing nothing but while I’ve been invited to many groups, one of my favorites is one that people just report how they worked out that day. I’ve been called inspirational many times but there we all just help each other to get more perspirational. Many of them share what they did it and who they did it with. These moments of connections, these habits of health, these being the pattern of theirs and I hope my life… perhaps all of these things are just a bandaid on cancer. But if they are, even if they heal nothing at all about my symptoms or disease, those bandaids have helped with my cancer. Odds are if you read this, you’ve been one of those great points in my life… so thank you.