I stand in the shower trying to wash all the fatigue down the drain. I stand and stand, hoping. As if the water has some kind of energizing ability that enables me to recover some stamina, some strength. But I've hit a wall of sorts this week, and the fatigue has settled deep into my bones. I only half-jokingly asked Rick to carry me to bed the other night. This is supposed to be my "best" week, the week before treatment. But maybe I am just overdoing it. Feeling my aliveness just a bit too much. I don't fault myself for the urgency in which I want to do every. single. thing.
Because I have a new reminder. A new unexpected symptom. The unpredictable creeps back in. I can't look down anymore when I am getting dressed. Because when I do, I see it now, the cancerous tumor reaching through my skin, ugly, brown, a blight against the whiteness and purity of my otherwise normal skin. I dress with eyes closed, crossing fingers I don't bump it and tear the thinly crusted top that instantly starts to ooze a sticky substance. Its gross. But I have to face it daily.
"Ask Dr. Panwalker about surgery," moves to the top of my list for Monday's appointment. Plus a host of other questions involving blood counts and treatment plans have arisen in the three weeks since I've seen him. He is so good about answering each and every question I have, without making me feel awkward or clumsy in my lack of knowing at times.
Yet, despite how tired I am, I feel satisfied somehow. I have missed very little. I am walking a couple of miles almost daily. I am charting a course for a summer trip we plan to take. I see my toes in the white beach sand and the water of the ocean swirling around my ankles. I can almost taste the fresh seafood I know I will indulge myself. Life continues to be good.
We went to the Fargo Marathon on Saturday in the hopes of catching a glimpse of friends, running with MY name on their backs. What, who me? Not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR friends, running with my name on their backs. I am so deeply humbled they would think of me and carry the idea of me on their backs.
I wanted to see if I could catch a glimpse of them running. Rick brought his camera and we stood for hours watching and waiting. We arrived early at the mile 6 marker at the beautiful campus of Concordia College. The first runners come in shortly after we arrive. They are graceful and run with a gentle ease. Yet they are determined; their movement solid, and purposeful.
A pace group arrives shortly. A 3 hour 10 minute race time is phenomenal. How many of them will keep pace?
And then somewhere between the 3:40 and 3:50 pace group, my sweet friend Anne shows up. She is all decked out in pink and black, strong and sure in her stride. She lights up when she sees us and blows me a kiss while high fiving the boys along side me. She is a rockstar in my book. This is her SEVENTH Fargo marathon. She has run in it since the first year of the marathon, seven years ago. She is running this year, in memory of her mom who passed away earlier this spring, and in honor of me.
As vibrant as Anne looked, the man on the left wearing #115, was looking more tired, a pained expression on his face. His pace had been faster as he had arrived about the time of the 3:10 group, but the pace and its toll showed in his face. Ironically, I will see him later again, unbeknownst to me at this time.
Heather in pink is our secretary at the boys' school. She ran a leg of the marathon relay and was finishing as we left. She looked like she could have easily done another leg! Way to go Heather!
We wait awhile longer, but I have no idea the pace with which the rest of the women are running. We decide to try our luck in seeing them at the finish line. The finish line is inside the Fargo Dome and is quite a spectacle to take in. The vibe and energy surrounding the runners is supercharged.
They come in under the big sign lit up with spotlights. An announcer reads their names as their chip records their name and finish time.
The Marathon has over 23,000 participants this year.
A few minutes taking it all in, and we decide to head back outside to be closer to the runners. Our friend Ben happens to pass by us on his way to the finish line inside. He doesn't even notice us, he is focused on the finish. But my eyes quickly settle on his wrist, the one adorning my bracelet... thanks Ben- congrats on your race!
And then we see her. Its Anne again!! But clearly, she is tired. Weary. Her steps measured, barely swinging one leg in front of the other. I will find out later two toes had turned purple with their circulation being cut off. She has run in pain for the last 4 miles. But she has run. My heart swells with pride. She has done her momma proud, I just know it. She is courage and strength personified. She renews my hope, renews my fight as I watch her conquer the beast of a race!
Anne hobbles over to my house the next day. Tired, and sore. But radiant.
And on her left, ironically is the guy from above, #115, (I have other photos which show his number clearly) who had been a full 35 minutes ahead of Anne at some point, now side by side with her. He is barely walking, a now continuous tortured look on his face. Yet, he too I notice, is crossing the finish line.
Predictable results? No, not really for most of us, as much as we crave and rely on it. But the results can be equally good when we let go.
I regretfully did not see the rest of the women honoring me. But my love and admiration for each of them is immense. Vanessa, Missy, Shelly and Anne, you are amazing women of strength and I am so deeply honored to be friends with you and recipients of your compassionate hearts.