I believe in the healing power of a journey.
I have been in the dark corner, alone, unaware of where I was going and how I was getting there. I have looked into the future to see nothing there but a void, a vast expanse of space that seemingly held nothing for me.
And then a chance piece of mail made me get up, brush myself off, and pursue another direction.
Four years ago I received a post card from the Leukemia and Lymphoma’s Team in Training endurance program. Among their activities was a marathon. I have always been a runner. I have always run, but for the first time I thought I might be running toward something, rather than away.
I attended an informational meeting about raising money for patients with leukemia while training for the Marine Corps Marathon. I asked the appropriate questions, cried at the video, listened to patients’ tell their stories, and I signed the commitment form.
The next five months took me through a powerful journey. As the weeks passed the distances grew and I was quickly running further and faster than I ever had before. The thrill of running was overpowering. I arrived home after each long run Saturday morning feeling exhausted but incredibly accomplished. I was going to run a marathon.
But beyond the marathon was the cause.
I have had an exceptionally blessed life. Void of death and tragedy. My involvement with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society introduced me to people whose days include long, tedious, and often painful doctor’s visits, children who have never known a day without being ill, and parents who have to watch helplessly as they place their child’s life in a doctor’s hand.
I found the sheer strength of these patients overwhelming. When there seemed to be little left, they continued to be strong. They faced each day not knowing what it would hold, but none-the-less grateful that they were there to experience it. I listened to people tell stories about their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends who became sick, who fought, who lost. They ran in remembrance, they ran for everyone else, they ran for strangers; as was I. The only boy I knew with leukemia I never knew at all. He died 39 years before I was born. But I knew his mother. I knew she never spoke of him. I knew the hurt never went away.
Out of my darkness, I rose up to help others through their darkest moments and support them on their journey; a journey of hope that would carry them through, or a journey to the end of their suffering. Along this journey, I believe that they helped me as much as I helped them. And in the end, we both crossed a finish line.
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