I’m excited to announce that in 352 short days I’ll be running my first marathon…..
I’m very excited about the idea of training for and running the Chicago Marathon. I know that the next almost year is going to be quite the adventure as I train for Chicago. I’m excited, I’m scared, I’m overwhelmed, but most importantly, I’m eager about what lies ahead for me in this journey.
When I started exploring the idea of running my first marathon, I knew that I wanted to make it a meaningful experience. Chicago has always been on my short list of potential marathons, and a number of factors led to me wanting to make it my first marathon. I’ve heard from several people that its a great first marathon to run because of the flat course and incredible crowd support. Most importantly, running Chicago will allow me to make my first marathon a truly meaningful experience.
On October 8, 2017, I’ll be running the streets of Chicago in memory of my friend, Tammy. Tammy and I first met in seventh grade. We were on the same academic team, had most of our classes together that year, and quickly became friends. In the summer of 2000, the summer before we started high school, Tammy was diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, which is a rare form of cancer that attacks the body’s muscular tissues. While many 14 year olds would approach such a diagnosis as though it were the end of the world, Tammy held her head high throughout her treatment. Like most other cancer patients, her hair quickly fell out as a result of her chemotherapy treatments, but despite this and the other side effects she experienced she never once let herself feel depressed by the challenge she faced.
Despite her own illness, Tammy continued to always put others first. Shortly after she was first diagnosed I had an emergency appendectomy. While recovering at home, I received a card in the mail from Tammy, saying that so many of us had come to her house to cheer her up while she was sick and that now they needed to do the same for me. This was just one of the many examples of Tammy’s selfless character and how she never used her battle with cancer as an excuse for continuing to persevere and enjoy life.
During our freshman year of high school, Tammy’s time was split between home and Memphis, where she received her treatment at St. Jude. As her cancer spread, her time at St. Jude increased, and by the middle of our sophomore year Tammy was too sick to continue making the trip between Memphis and our hometown, and she began receiving home bound instruction in Memphis. Tammy’s focus was on one thing – to do whatever was necessary to graduate high school and walk across the stage at graduation with the rest of our class. Her focus on her education helped distract her from the pain she endured. Tammy graduated with a 5.0 GPA, as well as as a member of National Honor Society. She continued to remain focused on walking across the stage at graduation, and it wasn’t until three days before graduation that her doctors told her and her mom that it wasn’t in Tammy’s best interest to make the nearly seven hour drive back from Memphis for graduation.
Throughout her treatment, Tammy never wanted to give up. She was willing to try various treatments, and kept herself busy with studying and crafting. She always said she would rather die doing something she enjoyed as opposed to just lying in a hospital bed feeling sorry for herself.
During our senior year, our school started the “Tabs for Tammy” campaign. While in Memphis, Tammy and her mom stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, and the purpose of the campaign was to fill milk jugs with soda tabs, which the House would then recycle and use the money from in order to support its ministries. The goal was to fill 334 jugs, one for each member of our Senior class, but the school and community’s response to the campaign was beyond anybody’s expectations, and our school received enough tabs to fill 800 milk jugs. Many of the jugs were decorated by members of our Senior class, and many of us also wrote messages to Tammy and her mom on the jugs.
As many of our classmates were starting their first semester of college, Tammy’s condition continued to worsen. Sadly, Tammy’s battle came to an end on September 20, 2004, when she passed away from complications from her chemotherapy treatments and two stem cell transplants.
On October 8th, I’ll be running the Chicago Memory in Tammy’s memory as part of Team Ronald McDonald House Charities. If you want to support RMHC, please visit my fundraising page.
QOTD: What is your next goal race?