Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why I Race For Imerman Angels

When I tell people that I was more scared jumping into the Hudson River the second time or that I was more anxious running Chicago Marathon a second time, they ask why? Fear of the known. It is one thing to fear the unknown, but it is different to live through a struggle then be willing to live through it again. Midway through last year's marathon, Kimberly informed me of the pace at which we were running and I started freaking it out. I was not suppose to run that fast. I was not going to have enough to finish this race. I doubted myself. When Jennifer took over the responsibilities of guiding, I received a boost from her as well as the screaming fans along charity mile including the folks from Imerman Angels who were yelling for Sexy Isra. Still, a few miles down the road, I could no longer fight off my doubts. I started to walk. The pain was too much. Eventually, I was able to run for a bit then walk. I kept that going for many miles. Kimberly and Jen pushed me along encouraging me to keep running. They insisted I not walk. At one point at about mile twenty-two when I wanted to slow down and even walk, neither woman would allow me. They insisted I keep running. I shut my eyes and wondered to myself, "Why am I doing this?" I had already completed one marathon. I knew the pain and misery it brought so why again? With my eyes still shut, I looked to the heavens and in my mind, I heard her laugh and her voice. A dear friend from college with whom I had some very special fond memories. Cancer made a home inside her body. With courage, toughness, and smiles she fended off cancer. Entering 2011, I heard she was doing much better. she was in great spirits. Suddenly, by the spring, I learned that cancer refused to go away and had not been defeated. In fact, my friend would probably only live another fourteen days. I reached out to her to say thank you for all the memories and to wish her the best as she moved to the next chapter of her spirit's journey. I would never forget her and I would always carry her in my heart. Less than three days later, she was gone. I turned to my friend who first introduced me to her all those many years ago and asked, "What can I do? How can I pay my respects?" All he said was to keep her memory alive forever. As I looked for a way to pay tribute to her, a woman whom I did not know at the time reached out to me and ask if I would run the Chicago Marathon. It was June and I had missed registration. She suggested I join the non profit for which she was running. I thanked her and tweeted that it looks like I was running the marathon for a non profit. I did not mention which one, but I was just thrilled at the chance to run the race for a charity. Then another woman I did not know reached out via Twitter to suggest Imerman Angels One-On-One Cancer Support. Imerman Angels pairs up cancer fighters with cancer survivors who are mentor angels. These Angels are of the same gender, age, background who have survived the exact same cancer as the person with whom they are pair currently fighting the disease. IA believes No One Should Face Cancer Alone. I have seen family members and friends overcome cancer. I have seen how a community of loved ones join together to support them. I also realize that I can provide all the support in the world to these family members and loved ones, but what I can not give them is a true understanding of their feelings as they deal with the disease and possibly stare death in the face. Sure, I have stared death in the face a couple times in my life, bit it was not due to cancer. Thankfully, I do not know what that feels like. Unfortunately, many others do. I do know how helpless I felt not being able to do more for those with cancer. I know the empty feeling of not being able to save my friend as cancer ate her body and took her from all of us at such a young age. There are people in the world who can assist during these times. Other cancer survivors can provide that insight I can not. I can help that happen by raising funds for Imerman so that a mentor angel can help someone through the process of fighting cancer. I could not help my friend directly, but I can run 26.2 miles while raising money and awareness for the work Imerman Angels does so that my efforts will result in someone's friend, wife, mother, sister, brother, husband,, or father receive a mentor angel who could then give wisdom and most important of all, hope! I could not save my friend, but I can honor her by running mile after mile so others will be helped. So in that moment at around mile twenty-two when everything hurt on my body, I thought of my friend and realized all the pain I am enduring to run 26.2 does not even begin to compare to the pain she endured as cancer destroyed her body. I thought of the words of my friend, Ironman triathlete and race director, Patty G, "Suck it up, cupcake." So I did. With the help of Kimberly and Jenny I then pressed on and made my way across that Chicago Marathon finish line for the second consecutive year. Now ready for my third marathon, I am scared, but I know I am prepared. I also know that so long as I do my best I will be fine for I carry my friend's voice, laughter, and memory in my heart. As I did last year I have been racing and fundraising for Imerman Angels in 2012. In order for Imerman Angels to provide a cancer fighter and mentor angel connection, it costs about $350. For me to raise $750 would mean I could help bring four people together or help Imerman make two connections. The work Imerman does is truly special. I am honored they have allowed me the chance to run and raise funds for them the last two years. I know the individuals who have cancer and are given hope and the motivation to fight through their struggle are grateful for the services IA provides. Once again, I will run for my friend on Sunday. I will run while being grateful that I was privileged to know her for fifteen years. I will run for Imerman. I have my sights set on another marathon personal best which will shatter the marathon best I set last year. If you believe in my ability at the marathon distance and especially, if you believe in my cause, please visit my page and donate. Thank you!!

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