Thank you.

Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts over the past few days.  Death is always difficult to deal with, and my aunt was a fairly private person, especially when it came to her battle with cancer, so I’ve struggled with how to share her story.  Additionally, I feel as if it is not my story to tell.  I can’t even imagine what my uncle and cousins will be going through over the next year and for the rest of their lives.  She will forever be remembered and missed.

My aunt was so supportive of all of my ridiculous athletic pursuits.  Even on her death bed, she still supported me.  I had sent my cousin a text to tell her that I spoke about my aunt during Team Fight’s dedication circle before Rock and Roll USA.  She shared this with my aunt, who was thankful and wanted to know how my race went.  Even in her last days, she cared about me and the silly race I was running.

I want to do something in her memory, and though it feels silly, I’m going to dedicate my 2013 racing season to her.  I haven’t figured out how I want to do this.  I might wear a pink ribbon, but I have strong feelings on “pinkwashing” and how the “pink movement” ignores the women with terminal cancer (a discussion for another day).  I might also find out what her favorite color was from my cousins (I have a pretty good idea) and put a colored band on my bike for my triathlons.  Those are the races where I’m going to need her the most.

Either way, I’m going to make sure she isn’t forgotten.

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Rest In Peace

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Last week, my beautiful Aunt Cathy passed away.  She was surrounded by her friends and family and in no pain, and that is a blessing.

It’s hard for me to figure out how to talk about her.  Not only because of the emotional situation but because I’m not sure how many of the facts were hidden from me, in her desire to keep everything positive and happy.  That’s how she lived her life.  That said, I will share what I know as best I know it.

More than twenty years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She went through chemo and radiation, and though we children were shielded from her suffering, we all realized what she was going through and now I look back and am amazed at how bravely she handled everything.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for breast cancer, and while she was deemed cancer free for years (at least as far as I was told), five years ago, the cancer returned, this time in her spine.  We all knew this meant it was terminal.  But we didn’t know how many years she had.  Maybe one.  Maybe ten.  Maybe twenty.  And we all hoped for the best.

But in the past year or so, the treatments had stopped working.  Her tumors weren’t shrinking.  But rather than be sad, this was seen as an opportunity.  She and my uncle and cousins treated every moment with joy.  They spent a lot of time together and truly made the most of every day.

Just over two weeks ago, the night before I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half with Team Fight, I got a call that Cathy had taken a turn for the worst and that this was it. My uncle didn’t expect her to survive the weekend.  She was at home, attended by wonderful hospice nurses (who are true angels, if ever angels existed) and she wasn’t in pain.  But her life was coming to an end.

When I saw her at Christmas, I knew it was likely that this was the last time I would see her.  But that didn’t make that phone call any easier.

For the past two weeks, we’ve all been waiting.  Wishing that we could be waiting for good news, but knowing that the only good news that could come was that she would be released from her suffering.  There was no miracle cure coming for her.

And just after 2pm last Tuesday, March 26, she passed away.

Cancer sucks.  Cancer is an awful, horrible beast that steals away wonderful people all too soon.  And it makes me sad and it makes me angry.

But Cathy wouldn’t want us to hold onto anger.  She was one of those people who saw the good in everything.  She was such a positive person, and what she would want more than anything is for good to be done in the world.  So today, as we say our last goodbyes, it would mean the world to me if you would make a point to do something good for someone else in Cathy’s honor.  I know it would mean the world to her.

photo credit: urbancitylife via photopin cc

Motivation Monday – Do Good

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Today, I am traveling to St. Louis for my aunt’s wake and funeral.  I wish this were an April Fools joke.  I am working on a post about her for tomorrow.  She died much too young.  Cancer sucks.  But as my uncle, her husband, put it, instead of feeling sad and offering sympathy, go out and do something good for someone else.  It’s how she lived her life and how she would want to be remembered.

Happy Birthday Caitlin!

Today is my sister Caitlin’s birthday!  Happy birthday, Caitlin!  (I know you’re reading this because you stalk me on the internet.)

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But the fun of that is that I now get to embarrass her!

Okay, okay.  I won’t do that.  That would be mean.

Back in 2010, when I was getting ready to run my first half marathon, Caitlin told my friend Mary Kate that she thought running was crazy and she would never run.

In 2011, she powerwalked the Disney Princess Half with our mom.  By that fall, she was definitely hooked, and we started running races together.

By 2012, she was registering for races all over St. Louis, and then in 2013, she went Goofy.  I’m not sure she thinks that was the world’s best idea, but I’m impressed either way.

I think we’re at five races together, four Disney races and one that I roped her into running here in Maryland last year.  Amusingly, people are always surprised that we’re sisters, because we don’t exactly look alike.  But mom swears we’re related, so we just have to trust her.

Hope you’re having an awesome birthday, Cait!

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy birthday to my Mom!  She is celebrating in Walt Disney World with my sister, and I will be joining them tomorrow.  Like me, she is celebrating her birthday by running a runDisney race.  See, the crazy runs in the family.

But I won’t tell you how old she is.  I’m not that crazy.

My mom did her first race at Princess 2011. She and my sister power-walked it together. I’m not sure how they did it – while I run faster than Mom power-walks, I certainly couldn’t walk it at the pace she keeps.  And her legs are no longer than mine!  But she’s well within the time-limits set by the race rules, and I think she loves the bling.

Later in 2011, when my sister decided she wanted to run races and not walk them, Mom coerced Dad into joining her, and they walked the 2011 Disneyland Half.  Dad’s quite a bit taller, so while she power-walks, he strolls.  (I want them to both wear pedometers for a race sometime, just to see how many more steps she has to take to cover the same distance.)

Clearly, she got hooked, and in 2012, she walked Princess, as well as two (I think) local half marathons.  This year, she did the Disney Half with Dad, will be doing Princess this weekend, and she and Dad are also registered for the Dumbo Double Dare (10k and half) out at Disneyland later this year.  And I think they’ll do the same two local races again.

Though she would likely disagree, Mom’s always been fairly fit, attending various exercise classes (unlike me, she’s a class fitness person – I’m much more of a solo fitness person).  Though she’s clearly got a few years on me (what, she’s my mom, this is not news), I’m pretty sure she could plank three times as long as I could and probably do more pushups than I could even consider trying.

(I may have just issued a challenge that I am destined to lose. Except I don’t think she reads my blog.)

But I’m proud of her for seeing something that she wanted (a cool race medal) and going for it.  And she still brings her medals back to her fitness classes and shows them off and may have inspired her daily walking partner to do races as well.  I hope she continues to inspire others and show them that they can do it.  It just takes time and dedication.

In sum, my Mom is awesome and I hope she gets a Mickey Ice Cream Bar to celebrate her birthday today.