Suck it, Cancer!
(A picture of a fellow ACS runner after the 2008 Chicago Marathon...priceless)
One month from today, I will represent the American Cancer Society for the fourth time in the 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
It's hard to believe that I ran my first marathon at the age of nineteen in honor of my father, but what's harder to believe is that I lost my father to cancer at the age of thirteen. I had so much anger (and still do) stored inside me after my father's passing. Why us? What did I do to you, cancer? If there is a God, why would he do this to us?
(2005 Chicago Marathon)
Running has been the longest relationship I've ever had. Through thick and thin, through sickness and in health, I have always had running as a therapeutic regimen and partner to channel my anger and frustration towards cancer. During the Chicago Marathon in 2005, 2006 and in 2008, I have raised funds as a charity runner for the American Cancer Society. It gave me pride to honor my father while raising funds for others still affected by this deadly disease. Heck, there are millions of men, women and children fighting cancer every day, disillusioned wondering if this is all a bad dream. Chained to numerous tubes, receiving chemotherapy treatments only to be followed by radiation, these fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, aunts, uncles, cousins and children are all watching the pain and horror play out on their loved ones faces, while remaining strong, desperately hanging on to every moment and just praying for a tomorrow.
To me, the least I and my fellow charity runners could do was run 26.2 miles and the least anyone could do is donate to the American Cancer Society.
Now, here's where the story gets tough...
All those years I ran...my mother was by my side. My #1 fan/supporter. Cancer was behind us, my father lived within us and now here we were fighting to make a difference in the lives of others...
until March 2011.
I get teary-eyed just writing this, because my mom is the strongest person I have ever met and the nicest person you will ever know. She would do anything for anyone and that's not an exagerration. She's the kind of person that will do anything and everything for someone else before she treats herself.
She lost her mother, her husband, kept it together to raise and act as the father/mother to two teenagers (my brother and myself), got us through college, helped us move all over the country...literally (Charleston, IL, Bloomington, IL, Chicago, IL, Orlando, FL, Denver, CO)...all the while encouraging us to chase our dreams and travel as much as possible. She's our rock, period.
(2008 Chicago Marathon)
Sitting in Salt Lake City watching March Madness, I received a call from my mother that she had found a lump in her breast and would be receiving a biopsy the following Tuesday. If you've dealt with cancer before, you know the word "biopsy" is not good. If it looks bad enough they need to go inside you and take a sample to confirm it's malignant, it's NOT good.
I broke down right there in the bar. My beer with a salt brim. Seriously, cancer? WTF. My apology for the acronym but you can imagine the multiple expletives that came to mind. Why us? Hadn't my family been through enough? Now you have to rear your ugly head again and bully the one person in this world that doesn't have a mean bone in her body. If one parent wasn't enough, now you want to take on the only person we have left? Are you trying to break us down...are you trying to make us miserable? This line of questioning can go on and on ...as it still does today.
(2006 Chicago Marathon)
However, cancer didn't know who it was dealing with this time. Just as she had stood tall before, all 5'3" of her, Billie Jean was going to show cancer who's boss. In my brother and I's line of work we travel 100% of the time, therefore I could only make it to one of my mother's treatments which was extremely hard and I will forever feel the guilt. But like the angel that she is, my mother never complained. She didn't complain after having half her chest hacked off, she didn't complain that her children weren't there for her to aid her during this difficult time, she didn't complain that cancer had chosen to pick a fight with the Cox family...again. It would be an understatement to say my mom is the strongest person in the world and the strongest woman I've ever known...because she is.
It has now been a little over a year (almost 1.5 years) since my mom's diagnosis and she is cancer-free. Constantly booked with upcoming doctor's appointments, she and our family knows that she is in this fight for a total knockout. Suck it, cancer!
This year, I am again representing the American Cancer Society as a charity runner. Never in my wildest dreams did I EVER think I would run in honor of my mother...a breast cancer survivor. With that said, in memory of my father and in celebration of my mother please, I beg you, lets stop this deadly disease. Lets fight together as an army (or as Billie's Brigade) to take down this villian we call cancer. Every dollar counts as the funds go towards cancer research and many of the amazing programs the ACS offers to support cancer patients. For example, my mom was able to receive a free wig and makeup lessons once she started chemotherapy and had access to many support groups. These programs mean so much to those affected.
Cancer doesn't care who you are, where you're from, what your yearly salary is, who you know or how young/old you are...it's unbiased in its attacks and preys on anyone...
That's why on Sunday, October 7, 2012...TOGETHER, I hope WE can make a difference.
Click here to donate today.