Feeling grateful, again, still, always. Yesterday was a purely nice day. It was the day of the annual Save Your Breath 5K to benefit the work of (Free ME from Lung cancer) , an organization that more Mainers need to learn about.
On the first Sunday in November, runners gather at the Y in Augusta at 7:00 AM (only it feels like 8:00 due to time change). Many there are running because they love running this late season race, many others because they love someone with lung cancer, have lost someone to lung cancer, or have lung cancer themselves, and some run for both the love of running and the cause. This latter describes my grandchildren and their mom, my daughter by marriage and heart. They love to run and they got up at 5:00 a.m. to travel to the race in my honor, to support Free ME from Lung cancer. And running with my grandchildren was their great-aunt, my sister. On the sidelines with me were Dan, my son and my brother-in-law. It was so wonderful to watch Team polepolebreathe.org in their tie-dye T-shirts (over or under their warmer gear) running or watching on this crisp, clear November day, supporting the lung cancer community. Just perfect.
After the race we went to breakfast at Mulholland’s Augusta House of Pancakes. It’s a great restaurant, we love that you can walk in with a large group (last year I think we had nine) and they will happily accommodate you. A couple of interesting things happened there. First, a governor candidate stopped by our table, noticing the “matching” Ts and asked my granddaughter what we were up to. Ten year old C. did an impressive job of explaining. The candidate seemed to have no awareness of the event, despite the promoting Free ME from Lung cancer does in that region of the state (and has for the six years of the race.) If that candidate wins, they will get a letter from me while we are still “fresh” in their mind.
And then came an opportunity, for the children and for the grown-ups as well, to understand better why we participate, why I post. It happened as we were leaving. Our waitress must have asked my son (walking out just in front of me) if we had a family member with lung cancer. He replied his mom. With eyes filled with tears, she shared that she’d just lost her mom. He quickly said, “My mom’s right here.” By then, while I hadn’t heard the words she’d said, I knew she’d been deeply hurt by this cancer monster that took my dad and has so changed my life. I stepped up, and she asked if it was me who had lung cancer. Nodding, I said, “You look like you need a hug,” and reached out to her. Here, in the middle of the restaurant, two strangers sharing this bond, her grief, my hope, our compassion. In that hug I could feel the love for her mother. She asked about my health, so grateful that I’m doing well. And even though she doesn’t know my name I know I’m on her prayer list, and she on mine. An opportunity to understand.
The cancer journey – when you’re stage IV I think “journey” describes a healthy, forward-looking approach – is filled with wonderful opportunities. Sometimes you need to seek them out and sometimes they find you. Be open to them.
Lung cancer awareness can save lives. Test your home for radon. Know the symptoms. Don’t ignore that persistent cough-cough.
Finding joy in the everyday every day.