I simply cannot blog about anything until I get past this! On Monday, we got the best news! Barry was told his brain scan looked wonderful! Wow!
A bit of background: 17 months ago, my husband (then aged 38 years) was admitted in to hospital for surgery to remove a brain tumour (glioblastoma multiforme – a grade 4). A few months later, he had a second tumor (this time a grade 3) removed. He has since undergone 2 rounds of radiation and 8 months of chemotherapy (1 more month to go on that). He has handled it all with strength, grace and courage. His blog, injected with his sense of humour and emotional warmth, has kept many informed. The response to his latest post was unprecedented. (You can see it here).
Thank you! The support we have had during the darkest events to hit our family has been phenomenal. They say “It takes a village….” (I think it’s normally “… to raise a child”, but you get my point) it really does! In our case, it has been a global village.
Let’s start at the hospital. From the Neurosurgeon who attacked (that’s the only word for it) both of Barry’s tumours with a confidence and arrogance that beat them into submission; to the wonderful Oncologist, who has guided us through each step of chemotherapy taking care to explain all the medical information on the way. Then there are the nurses, the radiation staff, the home care nurse who assisted the challenging Picc line duties! Not to mention the Doctor who took care of the infection. The Medical Team have been (and continue to be) amazing! There is still a round of chemotherapy to come. Following that, Barry will have a MRI scan every 3 months. Yes, the scan was clear of tumours but it is impossible to tell if cancer cells still linger. For that reason, scans will be regular. Here’s hoping we have many more years of “all clear”! For now we are enjoying, and celebrating the moment!
Friends and family, near and far. From day one, we have been stunned by the outpouring of support, emotionally and practically. I don’t know how I would’ve got through those first two weeks in September 2010 if my brother and his fiancee had not been here on vacation. They were unfaltering in providing shoulders to cry on, logistical arrangements for the boys, meals were ready, everything, in fact, was organised without a word from me. They just instinctively knew what to do and when to do it. Incredible. Friends, understanding of the challenges we faced and how this was compounded by being so far from family, wrapped us in a blanket of compassion and love. Meals were provided, hours were passed in the hospital waiting room, medical discussions were shared. Then there were the friends and family who felt they were too far away to help, yet they provided immense support via email or phone calls. I think I’ve spoken to my Mum pretty much every day over the last 17 months – I’ve needed those chats! Even beyond those people we know, we are learning now of people who have followed Barry’s story and are sharing in this most recent news. People all over the world.
It takes a global village. If there is anything positive to come out of all of this, it is the realisation that people pull together. Family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, acquaintances – everyone has a part to play when challenges arise and every part is essential, no matter how seemingly small. Thank you everyone! Enjoy the moment and celebrate with us!
At last, the day has come when I can call myself a marathoner! There were times, during my training schedule, that I thought I’d never do it. There were times the night before when I felt I’d taken on the impossible. Even in the car, on my way to the start line as I (along with Curt and Wayne) was chauffeured by Mary, I doubted that I’d ever get the chance to wear the coveted aluminium cloak (once that bacofoil is on your shoulders, you feel like a true athlete!).
However, once I was surrounded by the other runners, and my feet started to pound along the pavement, I just knew I was going to get to the end of the 26.2 miles. I knew my time would not be exceptional but I was determined I would enjoy it and I think I smiled pretty much the entire length of the marathon!
What I didn’t realise was that I was not alone in my desire to get to my butt to the end – family and friends, overseas and in the US, watched the online tracker, supporting me virtually; friends waited to cheer me along the course; Michiel, ran alongside me, checking on my progress and enjoying the humourous signs along the way; Mary planned logistics to get me to and from the race, fueling me in advance and re-fueling me post-race; Barry, Craig and the boys turned up at mile 5 and surprised me with a second cheer at mile 10 (in between the boys’ soccer games); all these people had a hand in getting me to the end. What really amazed me was the number of people who didn’t know me cheering me on my way – volunteers and spectators. The atmosphere was incredible. All the runners supported each other, the spectators were amazing – singing, dancing, cheering. Many people had set up speaker systems on their lawns and were partying as they cheered us on. There were several live bands en route. One guy even cycled alongside us for a while with a boom box fixed to the back of his bike knocking out some great beats! There were drummers, funny signs, high fives even beer at one point (I declined!). Some people offered pickles to help with our salt consumption, some came out with oranges and bananas, there were people offering energy gels and vaseline. Incredible! All the races I’ve done have been fun but this was way beyond that! The route was beautiful too. We took in four lakes and a stretch of the Mississippi. The sky was blue and the fall colours are starting to turn so it was perfect. The weather was just right….10 degrees C (50F) at the start (8am) and 21 degrees (70F) at the end…the last hour was maybe a little hot but I felt cold for the first 3 hours so I welcomed a bit of sun on my face!
As many of you know, I ran wearing yellow for “LIVESTRONG wear yellow day” which, coincidentally, falls on October 2nd, the day of the marathon. So far I have raised $895 – thank you to all who have pledged to this great cause. A great success! (By the way, those iPod headphones stayed clipped to my t-shirt the entire way – there was so much energy and music on the course, I didn’t need them!)
It’s not too late if you would still like to pledge an amount:
My yellow LIVESTRONG shirt elicited some motivating “Go Livestrong” cheers from the crowd – especially when I passed the LIVESTRONG stand. Running in support of this non-profit was motivating in many ways. Thinking about the “chemo marathon” Barry has to get through one week out of every month, not to mention the radiation and surgery he has endured, certainly helped to put my few hours of runner’s pain into perspective! I know I can never take that pain away but it is mildly gratifying to think that raising funds might help people suffering from cancer in some way. I realised, as I ran, that everyone has their cause. There were people wearing shirts for Africa; there were many dedications to lost love ones; one guy ran carrying a sandwich board in support of nurses; another guy ran with a huge US flag in support of war veterans; I ran close to a group of “Team Purple” runners supporting Leukemia research….the list is endless but it makes me very proud to be able to call myself a runner.
I’m not saying it was easy….there were times when my hips ached so much I wondered if I should keep running! My stomach complained and cramped as it attempted to digest GU energy gels on the run. The mile and a half climb around mile 20 was most unwelcome but I was determined not to let all that training go to waste! However, there is some doubt about whether I really tried my hardest since I didn’t end up in the medical tent and I can still walk today – haha! I admit, I probably could have gone a little faster but I am a hundred percent certain it wouldn’t have been as much fun if I had – yep, I’m just a girl who knows how to have a good time!
A few weeks ago, when I was training in the July heat and humidity, I swore I would never run another marathon….we’ll see! For now, I have my sights set on completing the Monster Dash Half Marathon with my brother and Michiel in just under four weeks time….training begins just as soon as my legs forgive me for Sunday!
PS Here are my marathon stats if anyone is interested;
My official results (My favourite stat on this page is the 24 mile to finish info in the bottom right corner).
And the data recorded by my Garmin so you can see the route:
Today, I read a couple of things about Lance Armstrong within 10 minutes of each other. The second was the attached article which tells of a 60 minute interview with one of his former team mates – Tyler Hamilton. Hamilton divulges information about Armstrong’s use of performance-enhancing drugs. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen. Other acquaintances have corroborated the facts whilst Armstrong continues to deny using drugs as a cheat. I am not interested in speculating whether this is true or not. I believe it’s one of those things we’ll never be completely sure of. The closest we’ll get is a ruling in the court of law. For me, the bigger concern is what this will do to the Armstrong brand, or more specifically Livestrong.
Currently, Lance seems to be a big part of my life! I can see the yellow wristband bobbing up and down on my arm as I write. I am reading “Mile Markers” by his ex-wife, Kristin Armstrong – it is supposed to be an inspirational read about why women run. So far, I have come close to getting up at 5:30am to go for a run, (I usually go at 9am when the kids are in school), but haven’t actually taken it further than the thought – does that count as inspirational? “The Lance Armstrong Performance Program” sits on my coffee table – my husband’s guide as he takes his cycling up a notch. Livestrong has been a source of support and advice as my husband, Barry, goes through aggressive cancer treatment. Armstrong is somewhat the ideal role model in this situation. Like Barry, he is a fighter, he is strong, he has determination and a positive outlook – all winners in this battle!
Maybe he did cheat. But, his strength and grace when dealing with cancer is exemplary. Unfortunately, one can’t cheat in that fight! Believe me, if there was a way I’d condone it – wouldn’t we all? I accept that cheating in an athletic race is unacceptable but that is one area of Lance’s life. Let Livestrong and his work for raising cancer awareness stand apart from racing and doping. I, for one, will continue to wear my wristband and I will continue to use Livestrong for advice and inspiration.
Oh, the first thing I read about Armstrong today. It was a quote that Team Ortho have used on one of their inspirational banners for those running the Minneapolis Marathon in a couple of weeks: “Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” I am going to hold on to this first thing and let the second drift from view.