Everyone has a song. You know, the one that makes them break out in tears every time they hear it. One that somehow conjures long-buried memories straight to the surface like a moth that’s drawn to a flame. One that simply makes it hard to breathe for a moment until you realize you’re just caught in the moment. For me, it’s Melissa Etheridge’s “I Run for Life.”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, although many of us – me included – we’re always aware.
Aware that any check-up, mammogram, ultrasound or MRI could lead to the “Big C” word. You see, my mom is a 23-year survivor, and I still remember every minute of learning of her diagnosis; the shock, the disbelief, the tears, the crying myself to sleep; afraid I was going to lose my mom during my senior year of high school. It’s a song that touches every fiber of my being, and the lyrics in the refrain always ring true.
“I run for hope,
I run to feel,
I run for the truth, for all that is real,
I run for your mother, your sister, your wife,
I run for you and me my friend,
I run for life.”
I even remember the moment I heard this song for the first time. In 2009, to honor my mom’s 10-year survivor anniversary, I decided to run the Columbus Race for the Cure 5K. While running is a critical part of my life now, it wasn’t back then. I could barely run one mile much less 3.1. But I kept thinking of all the hard times; every treatment, surgery, and medication that she took and endured and overcame. In the end, nothing could stop me from doing this for her.
I remember being surrounded by women – many wearing pink racing shirts designating them as survivors who were running. As we toed the starting line, “I Run for Life” blared through the speakers. I was flooded with emotion. I ran the first mile sobbing before finally composing myself. I finished and watched so many women in pink cross the finish line that, for many of them, was just one more obstacle they had conquered. Some wearing “still in treatment” racing bibs. Some holding each other up as they navigated down the “survivor chute” to get their medal and their name and anniversary announced for all to hear. It’s a memory that still gives me chills.
Now every time I lace up my shoes, I wear something pink for my mom, for other survivors and patients, but especially for those we’ve lost; including my Aunt Kathy.
This is a disease that touches us all. If it’s one thing I’ve learned is that not one demographic is safe. We as women are in this fight together, and I’m more than grateful for all the strides medicine has taken since my mom’s diagnosis to today. One day it could save my life, too.
So, celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Celebrate the advancements that have led to new cures and treatments. Celebrate the survivors, but better yet, honor those we’ve lost. In the meantime, I’ll be lacing up my shoes, wearing my pink proudly and “running for more.”