Thursday, May 17, 2018

Maude VS The Marathon

I know this is my first post in about 30 years and I'm sorry.  The last time I posted I think I had just moved back to Idaho.  The past four years have been busy, crazy, scary, fun, amazing, adventure filled and also sad.  Life, you know?

I've got several stories to tell, many funny others not so much.  And as soon as life stops moving at the speed of light I'll start writing again.  But for now, this post will have to do, and I hope you read it.

As you know I was diagnosed with and survived breast cancer in 2012.  What you don't know is the aftermath.  While I did not endure chemo, the past several years have not been awesome.  After the double mastectomy and complete hysterectomy and all the anti-hormone meds I had to take, my health hasn't been perfect.  I'm not dead, so you know, there's that.

One of the most frustrating and unfortunate issues is the fact that I have experienced significant bone loss.  So significant that my running days are all but over.  I'm at the point now where most 70+ year old women are with osteoporosis.  So yeah, I guess you could say I might break a hip.

I really didn't decide to write this blog to whine about my brittle old lady bones though, I really want to share that I'm running a marathon (my first, last and only) on Saturday May 19.  Most sane people with bone density issues would shy away from attempting such a feat, but I'm not really sane so there you go.

I battled a stress fracture (again, thanks cancer you're a real peach!) for about 2 years and finally got it healed.  I decided that I better go ahead and run a marathon now while I'm not in a walker.

But I picked the marathon specifically for two reasons, well really three: 1) I want to cross it off my bucket list and 2) I am honoring a friend who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2017.  Oh, and the third reason is that I have no common sense.

Mostly I'm running for Martha Munoz Armitage, a better wife, mother and friend than I could ever be.  We were diagnosed within a month of each other.  When I saw her post treatment I had already gotten my new rack installed and she was just growing out her hair.

Martha had a more aggressive form than I did and required chemo bombs, all while taking care of three children, one of them very small.

The next time I saw her was the summer of 2016 and she was radiant.  Her hair had grown back, she looked healthy and beautiful (how I wish you could see those amazing green eyes of hers).  By all rights she was going to reach the 5 year survivor mark along with me in less than a year.

Both Martha and I had running and triathlons in common.  Neither of us had tackled a marathon yet.  Martha had begun training for a marathon late summer 2016.   She noticed that after her long runs she was tired, run down and more so than you would normally expect.  I'll cut to the chase and tell you that they discovered the cancer had come back.  Her prognosis was not good.  I could not believe that healthy beautiful woman I had just been able to hug was sick again.

The rest of the story is heartbreaking so I'll leave it at this: Martha passed away with her beloved husband by her side in early 2017.  And I cannot imagine what that was like, or how things have been for her husband and children in the months since she passed.  They are all doing as well as can be expected.

But I have thought about her almost every day since her passing and wondered why Martha and not me?  How does cancer decide who it will take and who it will leave behind?  Why did she have to go through all of that treatment only to have her life taken from her in the end?

And why did I get off relatively scott free (new front porch & wavy hair that I always wanted), aside from the minor issues I have to deal with.  I mean let's face it, death is way worse than brittle bones......

I don't know, and I'll never know.  And that breaks my own little black shriveled up heart.  From the moment she passed away I have had it in my head that I would run a marathon in memory of her.  I just had to heal that stress fracture.  And I did, finally.

For Christmas the kids and my husband bought be a bib to race in the Idaho Potato Marathon (could it be any more campy or appropriately named?!) on Saturday.

I have, for the most part, kept this part of my training to myself.  Martha has been my inspiration.  I wanted to do this for her.

If you knew Martha you would know why her death was hard.  If you didn't, well all I can say is that I wish you had been able to know her.  She was an amazing woman.

Every solo step of my training she has been on my mind, and I never came out and said anything because I feared the inevitable injury during training that would prevent me from running.  And, sadly, something did happen.

I have a new stress fracture on my other shin, which tells me that this will be my first, last and only marathon.  My bones simply cannot handle this kind of extensive running any more.  Sure, I'll be able to knock out a few miles here and there and I will.

But this marathon, the one for Martha, will be the only one I get to run.  And to be honest, I'm OK with that.

The reality of the privilege it will be for me to actually get to run those 26.2 miles is not lost.   I could be a memory, but I'm still here.  And I'm thankful.

So I will run 26.2 miles with my BRF and enjoy the hell out of every single one.  I only get to do this once so I'm gonna make it count.

I thought long and hard about a way to honor Martha and I'll probably carry a sign with her name on it through the race, but I decided to fund raise for a local nonprofit called Expedition Inspiration, which is a breast cancer research fund.

I picked them not only because their efforts likely saved my life, but because their continued work can save more lives like Martha's in the future.

I am donating $26 - $1 for every every mile I get to run that she won't.  I hope you will join me whether you knew her or not.  You can give $26, $5, $10, whatever is in your heart.  Thank you for helping me honor her memory.  I can't wait to run for Martha on Saturday.

You can find the link to the fundraiser here:

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