Friday, September 18, 2009

Dedicated to Cathy Johnson

"When I first met my mother-in-law, she was already going through breast cancer treatment for over two years. Over the next five years, she would prove to be one of the bravest, most positive people I've ever known. Never did she complain or ask, "why me", and her response to our questions of how she felt was always, "I'm hanging in there!", with a big smile on her face.

She showed me that you have choices in your life. You can choose to succumb to your fears and stresses or you can fight. You can take a stand and believe in yourself. She always wore a yellow LiveSTRONG bracelet, and that was her commitment. She challenged herself to LiveSTRONG through the good and the bad.

Cathy lost her battle to breast cancer in May, but her resilience and attitude in the face of adversity has given me a new perspective and given me the chance to look at distance running in a new way. I now look at marathon running as a choice and a chance. I purposely put the long miles under my feet, but many men and women who are given the diagnosis of cancer never had the chance to accept or deny the diagnosis.

The last hill in the "Breast Cancer Marathon", as you're approaching the finish, seems to go on forever. By that point in the race, your legs hurt and you're usually just about out of gas. During last year's race, as I came up the hill, panting and walking, I passed a woman wearing a pink "Survivor" bib and something big occurred to me ..........

That hill is over in just a few minutes. I can walk it, run it or even crawl up it and soon enough, I'm on the down slope and across the finish line. For those who are going through cancer treatment, many times there is no down slope, or the journey to get to the easy parts is very long and not easy. So that day, I ran the hill, and never stopped until I finished, where my husband was waiting to welcome me.

I can't wait for the 2010 "26.2 with Donna - The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer", because I know my mother-in-law will be there with me in spirit, reminding me to keep going and to LiveSTRONG.

I LiveSTRONG in memory of Cathy Johnson."

This post was written by Mari Costea-Johnson and published with her permission. The photo is of Mari and her husband Dave, at the finish of the 2009 marathon.