Cancer scares me. Not just blood cancers, but all cancers. Cancer has killed many of my own loved ones. My dad’s parents, aunts and uncles have been taken by breast, prostate, and colon cancer. My grandmother and her sister, both non-smokers, died from lung cancer. I do my best to eat healthy and stay physically active, hoping that my lifestyle choices will make me less likely to be the receiver of the dreaded news, “You have cancer.” But my plan is not 100% guaranteed. Any one of us can get cancer no matter how hard we try to prevent it. That scares the hell out of me.
I’ve been fundraising for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) for just over a month now, and to say it’s been an emotional month is an understatement. I am so proud of and surprised by the number of friends and relatives who have already donated to support my cause. Within less than one month after mailing my fundraising letters, over 50 of my family and friends have chosen to DO something to help those who fall ill from blood cancers. I know that financially, it’s a difficult time for many of my friends and family, but they have still chosen to support the mission of LLS in any way they can, and for that I am deeply grateful.
I have appreciated reading the many notes of support and encouragement that have accompanied the donations. Many of my donors have themselves been directly affected by blood cancers and other cancers. About a dozen people have donated in honor/memory of a loved one, and some of those donors have even included short stories telling me about their loved ones’ experiences with cancer.
My former elementary school teacher donated in honor of GE, a dear family friend who was diagnosed with leukemia. After a perfectly matched bone marrow transplant and a hard fight on GE’s part, things did not work out and GE lost her fight with cancer at the age of 60. She is extremely missed by her loved ones.
One of my husband’s relatives donated in memory of JW, her father who lost his fight with leukemia in the 1970’s. She was nearly my age when her father passed away.
A friend of mine donated in honor of AH, her best friend and roommate of several years. AH is a young woman in her mid-20’s who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and at one point she was told she wouldn’t make it. AH remained strong and positive and beat that cancer. My friend is so proud of and amazed by the strength of her best friend, AH.
Another friend made her donation in memory of CK, a runner and mother of 3 young children, who lost her fight with colon cancer. CK was a radiant member of her community who touched a lot of hearts and continues to inspire those who knew her and knew of her.
There are many other names and many other stories that have been shared by those who have made donations. While I train this summer, I will remember that these people — these dear friends and relatives of my donors — demonstrated strength, determination and courage and fought as hard as they could to beat the cancer that invaded their bodies. When I run my marathon in October, I will be running in honor of and in memory of all those people described to me by my friends and family.
I know I’m doing my part to help fight cancer. To my friends and family who have already contributed to my fundraising campaign, thank you for doing your part to help fight cancer and further the mission of LLS. You all are AWESOME!
Racing to Save Lives http://pages.teamintraining.org/los/nikesf10/mbahnson