I spent a beautiful Sunday morning at our local Melanoma 5K. I'm a veteran of charity walks. Between this one, Parkinson's and other diseases, I've probably done twenty of these in the last five years. You would think that I would have learned to control my emotions at these events. I certainly thought so. We'd both be wrong. Someone always gets to me.
Don't tell anyone but I showed up fifteen minutes late yesterday. 8:45 instead of 8:30. It meant that the runners/walkers took off without me. Oh well. More time to mingle with the vendors. At nineish, the first group of runners came rolling across the finish line. Lots of support. Lots of cheering. I noticed a woman who was the shirt in the above picture. I wanted a picture of the shirt. She told me I could find it online (apparently the saying is a thing...who knew?) but she was willing to take the picture.
After our photo session, we started talking. It was the typical exchange of disease stories that bonds participants at these walks. She was amazed that I was researching a Melanoma story when I found mine...most people are. She was curious about the connection of Vitamin D deficiencies and Melanoma. Just a regular conversation between two new Melanoma friends.
Then I heard her story. She was shaving in the shower when she noticed something on her calf. She didn't have any idea about it but thought it wouldn't hurt to get it checked out. Melanoma. It was early when it was removed and she was cancer free. Keyword there is 'was' because it came back. It wasn't as easy the second time. It usually isn't. Five years and eight surgeries later and she's still battling Melanoma. There will be future surgeries to come and more chemo/radiation sessions.
Still, she was out today running the 5K and supporting others who are going through the same battle. She mentioned that she tries to keep active and runs a lot of 5Ks. I'm sure being active makes her feel better and maybe being in shape slows down the growth of her cancer....maybe...I hope so.
When it was my turn to respond, the words stuck in my throat. Those damn emotions got me again. There was a hand on my shoulder and the guy with a lesser case of Melanoma was being comforted by someone who is fighting for her survival. It's not the first time this has happened. I'm always amazed by their generosity of heart and spirit.
We walked and talked a little more. We exchanged a few hugs and I wished her well in the fight against Melanoma. Maybe when I see her next year I'll have those emotions under control but I doubt it.
The shirt says "Keep calm and Fuck Cancer". I don't think I'll ever be able to keep calm about this but oh yeah...Fuck Cancer!! Fuck Cancer, indeed!!
Related Post: Who is a cancer survivor?
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