Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Surviving week 1 of IronTeam training is nothing compared to 2 years of cancer treatment

Sitting on my bed weeping after the first day of training isn't the most memorable way I'd like to remember my first day of IRONMAN training, but that was the reality.

The morning began with a gear check clinic, followed by a 2 hour swim (warm up, drills, main set and cool down) of about 1800 yards, and concluded with a 40 minute run in 40 degree weather.  I was a bit overwhelmed, being a “newbie.”  It felt like I was the only one new to the TNT (Team in Training) family. I learned most everyone had done some type of training through TNT.  I felt lost in the swim, comfortable on the run and relieved when practice was over.  My highlight of training day 1, was meeting “HONOREE” Keith.

So why the tears?

Overwhelmed and filled with a million thoughts, I panicked wondering if I could keep up with everyone on the team, raise the funds needed, maintain my household, be present as “mom” and not let anyone down, especially my Honoree’s.  But soon I realized I had to humble myself so that I could learn the necessary techniques in all three sports (swimming, biking and running) to finish a full ironman.  I had to let go of all expectations I placed upon myself, for it was only day 1.  Yes, the workout was exhausting, but I quickly realized that I hadn’t mentally prepared for this journey. I told myself to be patient or I will mentally exhaust myself. I told myself, let the course take itself and don't worry about “What If’s, Could I’s or Will I be able to.”   Everything will fall into place.

As I calmed my mind, finished my cry and shared a little with my partner about how overwhelmed I was feeling (which since that day has been absolutely amazing and supportive by taking on the active role as, “Housekeeper”) my day still wasn’t over.  I was due to have dinner with my dear friend Katrina (the wife of one of the persons I'm doing this in honor of) and it wasn’t until we met that it ALL made sense.  

As I sat with her for three hours learning about how her husband Ray spent the last two years fighting for his life and hearing the love and pain in her voice as she shared the entire experience of what they had endured in those two years, my heart flowed with peace and happiness and my worries of letting anyone down disappeared. It was the feeling I get when I'm standing outside in the cold and suddenly the sun peeks out from behind the clouds and warms me.  It was a "perfect" moment.


As the evening continued and Katrina shared the details of their journey, I learned that Ray had gone through two bouts of cancer.  He had first learned of his Hodgkin's sometime in 2009 and was diagnosed at stage 4.  After an aggressive 6 month chemotherapy treatment, the cancer was gone.  But it was only a short 6 months later when it returned in a different form (a subtype or Hodgkin’s.)  Again, treated with chemotherapy and then with a successful stem cell transplant in June 2011, I was happy to learn he was cancer free.  As Katrina shared with me what her and her family have been though I could see so many emotions in her expressions ~ Love, sadness, relief, peace, hope, endearment, the list goes on.  I could see how "thankful" she was to have another day with the one she loves.  As we reminisced about how she and Ray first met she spoke the sweetest words I’ve ever heard in my life.  It was so touching that it pierced right through my heart. 

“Raymond saved my life."

I admire how she stood by his side through his entire treatment, with love and compassion, understanding, faith and patience. 

Her story was filled with victory and hope, which I hope to share with everyone I encounter going forward.  If my efforts give patients a slight chance to be victorious in the fight against cancer and I can offer a ray of hope to those suffering from it, then Mission Accomplished.

I promise,  when I’m swimming, biking or running and feel like I'm exhausted and can't continue, I will think about Ray and how he fought to keep afloat.  He gives me HOPE to keep going. I will remember the softball fundraiser that they had for Ray over the summer and how he found the strength to get up to the plate, swing the bat, hit the ball and run to 1st base!  He is truly an inspiration to me.



 I WILL raise this money for him and those afflicted with this disease. I will humbly remember that as I embark on this journey the true “IRONMAN” is Ray, my grandmother and all those who suffered and continue to suffer from cancer. 

Today, a little more than week later, I find myself eager for the next workout, for the next team event, the next honoree I have the privilege to meet, a season of fundraising and the AMAZING relationships I will develop with my IRONTEAM family.


YES ~ I may have survived week 1 of Ironteam training and have about 33 weeks to go, but Ray survived two years of cancer treatment ~ That is Amazing! Go Team IronTeam !


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