Over ten years ago one of the closest friends I've ever had was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was incredibly traumatic. We both had small children and the constant panic she felt was contagious. We were both big worriers and this one just about put us over the edge.
I vividly remember the night she found out. We stayed up until late into the evening and cried until the liquid was depleted from our bodies. The pain of that night stayed with us both for such a long time. I remember being at school events and if we ever caught each others eyes across the gym floor, we would both instantly started to well up.
She didn't have the fight - what she had was fear. It overshadowed everything. Our new "normal" sucked.
After months of depleted agony, there was clearly a change in her. She called me and said she wanted to get a big group together and do the Susan G. Komen Race for the cure in Chicago - would I go?
WOULD I GO?!?! OF COURSE!
It was the first sign of hope and fight I saw in her. We both sobbed yet again, but this time it was an overwhelming feeling of hope. I knew she was ready. It was time to kick cancer's ass.
There were about 30 of us that showed up that first race. We had a blast. A promise was made right there that we would go every year from that day on - no matter what was happening or wherever we were at the time of the Chicago race. My friend saw complete inspiration all around her. There were survivors and supporters. We all wore big signs on our back saying we were running in her honor. She was surrounded by inspiration.
There is a core group of us that kept that promise. I've driven from out-of-state soccer tournaments, girl scout campouts and multiple family functions - it's the one thing I never miss.
There's only one major thing that has changed from that first race we all attended. Instead of the signs on our back saying in honor of my dear friend, they now say we run in her memory.
I know there is controversy surrounding Susan G. Komen, but I don't give a shit. That race meant the world to my friend, and for that I will always be grateful and always run - year after year - no matter what.
If you have a moment this Sunday, go out to the Yorktown shopping center in Lombard and participate. Run, Volunteer, Hug a participant. If you plan on being out there, please let me know - I promise it will be one of the most moving moments you'll ever experience.
I miss you so much Gina.
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