It's not often that I ask for help, and there has to be something special behind the request for it to happen. Today, I'm asking.
With Glen, I know I did everything I possibly could have for him. My husband and I went to all of his doctor appointments and procedures, all of which were in another state. The last hours of Glen's life were my shift, and I took care of his every need, administering his medication every hour, keeping him comfortable, singing to quiet him. I suctioned his throat, so he could take what would be his last breath. I have no regrets. I miss him like crazy, but I gave Glen everything I had.
While Glen fought for more than two years, Mark's fight was much more brief. Few people even knew he was sick at first. It wasn't his way to broadcast his business, and to the very end, he only allowed a very few people in his room to take care of him. I sat in DC, hundreds of miles from the nearest person who even knew Mark. I was glued to Facebook and my phone waiting for any news after he went into the hospital. I was isolated and helpless. There was nothing I could do to stop what was happening to Mark, nor to ease his family's pain. It was heart-wrenching and infuriating. In the end, Mark was gone, and I felt like I'd given him nothing. I'd done nothing.
Anyone who knows me, knows that doesn't go over so well. Dealing with the loss of Mark has been more difficult because I feel helpless and guilty. I know that in my rational mind, but it does nothing to sooth my heart.
A few months ago, I lucked across something that spurred my craziest idea ever, but that has also turned out to be my way of fighting back against the sadness and frustration of losing too much to cancer -- Team Mark. I've recruited a group of Mark's closest and oldest friends to join me in Nashville on April 28 to run the Country Music Half Marathon as a part of Team In Training to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Recruiting, organizing, raising money, these things are easy for me, and I wouldn't feel like I'd done enough if I wasn't also going to do something that will test the outer limits of anything I thought I could ever do -- run 13.1 miles.
I was not kind to my body in my youth. I'm out of shape, overweight, arthritic and asthmatic. I've never been a runner, much less a long-distance runner, and two months ago when I started training, I couldn't run a solid minute without having an asthma attack. When I signed up, LLS kept reassuring me that I'd be able to meet my fundraising goal with all the support they'd lend. I looked very seriously at the man and said I wasn't worried about $3,000 in the least, I'm much more worried about getting 13.1 miles on something besides wheels! Well, this past Saturday, I ran 6 miles.
I'm under the supervision of two doctors and a physical therapists. I have three inhalers, plus a couple of pills, and a stubborn streak a mile wide. It was one of the things that Mark most loved and hated about me. (He had one, too.) It won't be in record time, and it may be ugly, but I'll finish. And end the end, not only will I have done the easy stuff to help end cancer and care for those who fight, but also I will have left every last ounce of sweat and tears I have on the road to the finish line. I'll know I gave Mark everything I had, even if it's too late.
Whether you're cheering from the sidelines (or Facebook), offering up advice or a "Go Team!", chanting and praying or best of all donating, I hope you'll support me. Together we can beat cancer.