This weekend I had the pleasure of participating in the Lubbock Race for the Cure.
I’ve said before that I don’t like running, but I do enjoy 5K races. And of all the 5Ks I’ve “run” (Okay… like.. 4), this one was easily my favorite.
The atmosphere of hundreds and thousands of people all gathering together in shades of pink, with smiles, with pride, with signs on their backs stating the name and/or relationship they have with the “1 in 8” they are running for…
“I’m running in celebration of the best grandma in the world!”
“I’m running in memory of my sister…”
On Saturday we ran/jogged/walked/congregated for something bigger than burning calories. There wasn’t an attitude of athletic competition. It was about coming together for the greater good. It was about raising money for the cure as well as implementing those habits that help one heal. There were many survivors at the race. There were many who will face cancer themselves someday.
I didn’t wear a sign because I didn’t see that particular table in the registration room (oops). But if I had, it would read, “I’m running in celebration of my super-mom, Linda Sanders!”
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in January of last year. Several months later, after a double mastectomy, she became a cancer survivor. She has since changed her life and her health for the better.
She has also documented her cancer journey in a series of photographs, which she has presented to various audiences in hospitals and otherwise.
As long as I’ve known my mom (hah!) she’s always been an adamant about patient advocacy. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she wasn’t given many options, but she wasn’t satisfied with what she was told. She did her research and found a doctor who would perform a different operation—one that wasn’t widely performed. She had to travel to San Antonio (roughly five hour drive) for her surgeries and doctors visits, but she got what she wanted. And she is now cancer free.
I may also say that I was running for myself.
Yesterday I was officially diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). While this endocrine disorder itself is not that dangerous, ignoring it (and the lifestyle habits that exacerbate it) could cause a snowball effect of other more serious health problems, such as infertility, diabetes, heart disease, and different cancers. I am blessed because my healthy habits over the past two years have reduced my symptoms to the point where I am a mild case. I visited my OBGYN for my annual checkup and presented my symptoms and they were brushed off as ‘nothing’. I wasn’t satisfied. I visited a holistic practitioner who strongly suggested that I may have PCOS (which I doubted—until I did my research and compared it with my own symptoms and medical history). I went back to my OBGYN insisting that I be screened for it. Turns out my holistic doctor was right!
I am not afraid of PCOS, cancer, diabetes, or any other malady of the body. There is no reason for me to feel anything less than empowered by it! My mom didn’t shrink and shrivel when she was diagnosed with cancer. She did something about it! She got rid of the bugger and has been doing what she can in order to prevent cancer from returning! She has been spreading awareness of both breast cancer itself and being your own health advocate. She effectively fights not only for herself but for her family, friends, and strangers she meets on Facebook.
I now fight a similar fight. Maybe not as presently dangerous, but a threat nonetheless. In a way, I fight for stability. I fight for balance. I fight for awareness. Simply being aware of my PCOS helps me in the future. It helps me be more conscious of how food, exercise, and stress affect me. It helps me make others aware. PCOS affects about 10% of women of childbearing age and is the most common cause of subfertility/infertility in women in the United States. It is often a precursor to heart disease and diabetes, and if left ignored can also lead to endometriosis, uterine cancer, and to some extent (in the case of estrogen dominance, which occurs frequently with PCOS patients, including myself) breast cancer.
We fight for the future. That way we can show others that illness can be reversed, prevented, and controlled. We don’t have to be crippled by it. It cannot and should not get in the way of living a full, happy, and loving life.
Who do you fight for?