Running Saved My Life

My story is a classic tale of a girl turned woman turned mother of three who hated running. I commonly joked that I’d only run if I was being chased. Then running saved my life. 

First, the back story. 
In 2015, my feisty then-third grader joined Girls On The Run and quickly developed a passion for running. I had been seeking an activity that she and I could do together so we quickly made a pact to run at least 5Ks together in 2016. We surpassed that goal and even added a 12K to the mix. I found myself signing up for races with my girlfriends and filling my weekends with runs. 

Over the course of that summer, I fell violently ill with what I thought was the stomach flu. Then in early October 2016, I finished a run with some friends and then ended up in the emergency room later that day, vomiting uncontrollably. It turned out to be an 11-centimeter tumor - a rare form of cancer called synovial sarcoma in my small bowel. Only 20 to 30 people have ever been diagnosed with it in that location and my doctor was clear: If not for the jostling motion of running, it would have been dormant and my stage 3 cancer would have been more serious within a couple of months. 

I went through three rounds of hospitalized chemotherapy over the winter of 2016-2017. All the while, local friends, and virtual strangers turned comrades ran for me. I motivated myself by signing up for races that I would do when I was done with treatment and strong enough.

On my 40th birthday - a month after chemo ended - I ran my own 5K with 50 friends along the Columbia River.

Since then, I’ve taken over the role of race director for a popular community race and I’ve completed two half marathons and handfuls of smaller races. I pay it forward as much as possible - I run for others who are facing their diagnosis and treatment. I run for the health I now have and for the free mental health therapy it gives me as I await quarterly scans.

I run because the new me could never repay running enough for saving my life and giving me the amazing new one that is the pure joy I have every time I lace up my shoes and pound my fears away.