May 30, 2011

Scars, experiences and the light

One week post surgery 2010. Thirty-nine
staples and hundreds of stitches underneath.
I look in the mirror and I no longer see a scar. Now, I only see an experience. And what are we in life, really, but a sum of our experiences. Me, I’ve lived through cancer and am stronger because of it.

As more time passes and my hatred for this disease is slowly replaced by resolve, I realize how different of a person I‘ve become.  Case in point, I no longer need to hide behind a façade of bravery, but can openly admit thoughts of being inadequate, inferior, or vulnerable. Because I’ve been to that place—the one where façade’s come crashing down all around you—and it’s strange, it’s surreal, and it’s humbling. Be that as it may, it’s also deeply empowering to realize the only thing left is the truth.

Underneath the masks and personas lurk our fears and demons. And whether it’s me or you; crazy Aunt Betty or Chuck-friggen-Norris, we all have them. When challenges arise, however, the ultimate truth is revealed in how we cope and how we persevere, despite them.

In less than a month I’ll be headed into the Gobi desert to run a 250km race, which will be yet another experience and a different kind of challenge. And it’s one that I’ve been asked about numerous times. I think people wonder what the hell is really pushing me to do this—particularly so soon after chemo, when I still have lingering side effects.

Well, along with the obvious motivators such as raising money for a great organization in TRAILS, and just the sheer adventure of it, there is one underlying reason. Which incidentally has nothing to do with competition; I’m not going there to go up against any other runners.  The way I see it they’re my team mates—much the same way those in the chemo clinic were—and we share the same goal; to get to the finish line.  Nor am I going there to pit myself against the terrain and/ or elements.  It’s just the playing surface, and game time conditions will be harsh. Rather, what’s truly driving me is the opportunity to send a message. I think this race gives me the voice I need to do that.
WHEN I cross the finish line, I’ll have this note written on a piece of paper in my backpack:
You attacked me because that is what you do. And I know given the opportunity you’ll do it again and again. But you should know who you’re up against. Today’s finish line is just the starting line for so many other things. The war may not be over, but I will fight you every step of the way. I’m stronger than you ever thought possible. And I will never, ever quit.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” ~ Marianne Williamson