On March 9, I was joined by thousands of fellow runners at the LA Marathon to do something big: run a marathon. We were all there with different goals in mind: to win, to complete the distance, and others to raise funds and awareness for a charity of choice. If we spoke a few years ago, I would have told you that I run marathons to beat my best time. This time was different.
This past November, my father was diagnosed with Stage 3 pancreatic cancer. Living across the country meant that there wasn’t much I could do on a daily basis, and I desperately wanted to be able to do something. I felt scared and hopeless.
I turned to a personal passion, marathon running. I quickly signed up for the Hirshberg Training Team (HTT), they registered me for the LA Marathon, and I hopped into training. I knew at that point my goal was different. “I wasn’t going to try to be the fastest or the strongest, but rather to increase awareness of pancreatic cancer and to fund research to find better treatment options and an eventual cure.” I felt proud every time I walked out the door for a training run wearing my purple HTT shirt. I felt a real sense of purpose.
Of course, training had its challenges. You have to make sacrifices: run when you don’t feel like it, go to bed early because you’re just exhausted from that long run, and go out in bad weather. My most memorable long training run took place during a terrible rain storm, which was not forecast to happen for another day. It started out as a drizzle and 5 miles into the run, it was pouring. The wind was blowing at my face, the rain was stinging my skin, and I was cold. I went back and forth on whether or not I would continue the run or just take the bus home and call it a day.
I thought about my goal: to raise awareness and funds for the Hirshberg Foundation. I knew personally that days are like this for cancer patients and their families. Some days are sunny and warm, while others are dark and gloomy. In either case, I knew that so many people still had to continue on with their lives, even on those difficult days and I could too. I didn’t know how much further I could run, but all I needed to do was put one foot in front of the other.
The rain persisted; it even got worse. But my attitude had changed. Things were in the right perspective. The wind was pushing me back but I had a huge smile on my face. It could be worse. Not all days are easy when fighting this disease. However, the knowledge that I was out there to fund the research necessary to discover a cure, was enough. The dream that someday others won’t have the same fight, makes those difficult days more bearable. It gives me hope, which is exactly what I needed.