Tuesday, February 4, 2014

False Hope

Today is World Cancer Day, http://www.worldcancerday.org/ a global organization with 9 specific goals by 2025. I'm a fan of goals and deadlines and approaches... perhaps why I keep running because there's this pace at this speed for this distance to aim for, a bit of normalcy in what feels like days of insanity. I love many of those causes and approaches because they give us real numbers that when my mother was born cancer used to kill 2 out of the 3 people who received the diagnosis and now it kills 1 out of 3. And while even some of them are still nowhere near removable, some medications are effective enough that people die with it not from it. They've stated it better than I have on their website and ever since this started, I have raised money for various cancer causes because I believe in them but on these types of days, I try to take the macro fight down from the day to day level. But it is in both that having some goals, great or small, feed hope.

There are people who it appears from day one their diagnosis they are 100% sure they are going to beat the diagnosis. Some people seem to accept defeat on day one. Some people seem to not know what to do. A friend who I met in Duke, who was there in New York, is having great progress with a more advanced version of the same cancer. He's one year into it doing very well. He owned me at the race there and had to take a break from running due to treatment. He's got almost a decade on me but I believe we aren't far away from the day where he'll be outgunning me again in a race. At least I hope so.

Another friend with a brain tumor declared that his doctors joked with him that if brain surgery didn't kill him, the medical bills would and he was proud to announce that his doctor was 0 for 2 when 7 years later he finished paying it all off. I checked and was relieved to realize that all medical issue finances 3.5 years into it were under 10 grand. He had to relearn to walk and talk but he's ran 2 marathons since I met him and he's still getting faster. He jokes that one day he's going to put concrete in the stroller to get ahead of me. But he's got the Austin marathon in a week and a half and I would bet he smiles at the finish line or shortly after. At least I hope so.

And while I joke about retiring from running, we all know good and well that it's not going to happen. The distance, the approach, the capacity to run it with a stroller, well I'm not making many promises. But they found me on the side of the road once in the middle of a 10 mile run and while I was relieved to wake up... I can't imagine anyone would be surprised if my last steps were in the middle of a run. And as Kiana's getting ready for her first 5k, I took her to the track to do 2 miles. She doesn't have a GPS watch and she says it's no fun to remember how many laps she does so she does one of two things between each lap. She either stops at the starting point and write the number she's done (it's a dirt track at her school) or she sets off a pile of rocks and knocks one off after each lap. I run the opposite way and we high five so I don't actually keep track of her laps but I couldn't understand why I was done before her and I thought maybe she was having an off slow day. Turned out, she had added rocks so that she could do 2.5 miles and wanted to "surprise" me; at the Ship of Fools we say you can always do extra and apparently she's heard. That paramount 5k is going to be fun. At least I hope so.

So because other cancer patients and my own daughter serve as inspiration to keep going, with two months into this increased anti seizure medication, I have chosen to take my own babysteps. I chased my facebook profile into purple for the cancer awareness day foundation. The soreness from carrying the stroller made me realize I'd once again started to neglect upper body balance so I signed up for a Spartan in May because for me it's easier to train with a "purpose" for it on the calendar. And I'll do it less nervous and get less burpees. At least I hope so.

But I also chose to hope on a few things that I've been ambivalent or avoiding. Since I've been in West Wing mode, a candidate declares "There is such a thing as false science, there is such a thing as false promises, I am sure I will have my share of false starts. But there is no such thing as false hope. There is only hope." And so my next appointment is in April and I choose to believe that everything will be stable. I choose to believe that for the first time in almost two years they're going to let me get back to driving but I will choose to regularly still bike or walk places and save the car for the necessary. At least, I hope so. 

And I choose to be open to, to hope that I will have my first girlfriend since high school. People keep asking who the girl referred to in here as if I'm going to put in someone's height, weight and social security number. But I don't believe love is magical or mystical anymore than running (which is by the way magical and mystical). I don't completely understand why people try to do relationships so privately. In my running group, people with more experience than me and obviously those with less, get training schedules which tell you what to do this many days a week at what speed. Some use different schedules or different approaches because the reason running is magical and mystical is because we're nowhere near figuring it out. And yet in romance, a much higher high than running for most of us, we want to figure it all out. Let's just say I don't trust my brain that much. But the girl that's been running through my head, who in simple frankess it feels like it's ending before it really is even getting started because we're failing to give it a proper chance is amazing for many reasons but I like the fact that she knows that  despite her brillaince and accomplishments and the fact that the media seems to think that me putting one foot in front of the other, we're both just ordinary people (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1l0NYQUGHU). And well walking along life with some big questions of what to do with careers or cancer or calendars or chocolate or costco, sometimes feels like too many things set on the edge of cliffs and all you can hope for is if one of you jumps in or another one gets pushed, that you hold hands on the way down. (With all that said, Kiana made my day the other day when she said that when asked if she would kiss a frog she would absolutely say no and while she's a princess in my head, it's good to know she's not magically hoping to turn something into a prince overnight). Maybe this is running through my mine cause Kiana's talking about valentine's card. I've got no date for Valentine's day (three years ago I was at a Valentine's date distracted by medical things, two I was at an anti Valentine's day party, last year I wasn't thinking about it enough and well maybe if I'm still standing in the future, in future years, it'll be a really cute date that we figure out together with both guidance and our own rules. At least, I hope so.

So will all this come true? I don't know. But I choose to believe and aim for it on world cancer day, putting some faith that things I hope for will gain substance. These may be small things but they are progress. People are impressed by my running but after I got out of brain surgery, the one I'd put off the Boston Qualifying marathon for, it took all I had to get through one two mile run. The first race I did was a 5k before even considering longer distances... but I also remember that I didn't even run a mile till junior high...and look my daughter's doing her first in 12 days. So will these babysteps get me anywhere? I hope so.

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