Saturday, June 9, 2007

A Wake-Up Call

First off, the latest round of amazing people:

Total to date:
I am amazed and know not what to say, except thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

I'm not going to give a race report today, you can see it on the sidebar. I'll post a full report after tomorrow's race. I need to say something to y'all, and the report can wait for another day.

The past few days have been a real wake-up call for me. I am doing a benefit next weekend for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS ("Broadway Bares," I talked about it in an earlier post.) There are about a dozen original dance numbers, and at the first rehearsal of each number a representative from BCEFA comes to thank everyone and give them some more information about the organization. My first rehearsal for Bares was also the first rehearsal of a number. At the end of their presentation, they read a couple of letters from clients who have benefitted from the services. I must have heard these dozens of times in the past, but this time, as soon as Michael started reading the letter, I broke down sobbing. We're not just there to put on a dance show, and sometimes we forget that. Hearing those letters makes you realize just how much your effort means.

It's the same thing with Fred's Team. I think my attitude has been, yes, it's for a good cause, but I'm here to run a marathon. Until I received a letter from my friend Greg, who lost his brother to a brain tumor last year, and is running the MSKCC Rock and Run tomorrow in his memory. Many, if not all of you, have read my most recent missive that featured a portion of that letter, and thank you, Greg, if you're reading this, for allowing me to share it (even if I did send a bunch of letters out before I thought, "I really ought to ask him if this is OK." It is.)

It's a facile thing to say, oh, cancer affects everyone. But it does. It's been in my family, I've lost friends, my friends have lost loved ones, I have two nieces (and a third TBA on the way) and it would devastate me if any of them got cancer...and yet, I still needed to be reminded that there's a reason I'm putting myself out there that has nothing to do with my ability to run 26.2 miles. Maybe it's because last year it kind of was all about me, and I'm not negating the importance of the Aubrey Fund in all of that, it meant a lot for me to be able to raise that money for MSKCC, but it was more about celebrating myself and my recovery from surgery. Well, been there, done that, got lots of t-shirts.

So why am I putting myself back out there? Because I love running marathons? I confess, I don't. The training is brutal. Give me a nice 10K any day. A friend of mine said to me, after her first 5K, "I can't imagine how you run a marathon, I huffed and puffed all my way through the 5K." My response was, "I huffed and puffed all the way through the marathon. The only difference between you and me is that I was too stupid to STOP after 5K."

What I say on my Fred's Team page and in my letters is true -- seeing the children outside of MSKCC last year cheering us on, when we should have been at MSKCC cheering THEM as they face much bigger challenges, played a big part in my decision to run again this year. Because when you see them, it hits you -- this isn't an abstract concept anymore. You are helping those people right there. At a post-marathon reception at MSKCC, one of our Team members, who works at MSKCC and for years helped coordinate getting the children outside on the day, spoke movingly about how much Fred's Team means to them.

Greg's letter was a real smack in the head. It made me realize I'm not running the marathon to prove I can, I proved it last year. And I'm not running it just because I like my Team members (I do, a lot!) or because I like marathon training (I don't, a lot!) It's because my friend Greg lost his brother. It's because another friend, a survivor, has a foot-long scar. It's because there are people on my Team who had cancer, and now they run marathons. It's because an old friend lost his daughter over 20 years ago and still grieves. And it's because everyone has stories like these, both inspirational and devastating, about friends, family members, even themselves. This isn't just "a charity" I'm running for -- it's my friends, my family, the children at mile 18, who need the support to battle this deadly disease, and the physicians and scientists who are working to provide it.

Me running a marathon won't cure cancer. Me explaining why I am running a marathon -- to celebrate the hard-won battles of cancer survivors, and to ensure a future where these battles will no longer be necessary -- will. It is my hope to inspire you to support not just my effort, but the efforts of everyone involved in the fight against this disease.

MSKCC's slogan is: "Imagine a world without cancer." And thanks to the generosity of people like you, I can.

More anon,

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