Monday, March 31, 2014

my livestrong family

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I didn't want any part of a support group. I imagined it to be a bunch of strangers sitting around on folding chairs, talking morosely about their disease. I couldn't even say the word cancer so a support group sounded like some kind of fresh hell. I was wrong.

In January, with Michele's help, I stumbled onto the Livestrong at the YMCA program in Mankato. It's part of the Livestrong Foundation but it's the only program in Minnesota (Yay, Joy!) I hadn't heard of it, no surprise, but Michele alerted me to its existence and I acted immediately, big surprise, and got myself enrolled pronto.

Michele and I drove to Mankato every night for twelve weeks. Well, she drove because I suck at driving. We missed two nights due to weather but otherwise we were faithful attenders! Sometimes we commiserated in the car all the way to Mankato about how we had trouble sleeping, didn't have any energy, didn't want to go. But we forged ahead and after a short time with this group of wonderful folks and our RAH RAH Twins, we felt better. 

I would never have imagined that by the end of twelve weeks, I would feel so strongly about this program, the instructors, the volunteers, the other members. Slowly, by talking and building strength and endurance together, we forged a strong bond of friendship. I am sad to see it end but happy there is talk of staying in touch and getting together in the future.

The YMCA is sponsoring the RUNSTRONG series of 5K-10K run/walks. I convinced Regis and Gus to join us so they registered and here they are on the first day. We walked 3.2 miles on this beautiful early spring day.

I've done some 5K races but mostly the Halloween Fun Run so I might have expected some costumes but I didn't expect costumes. Probably a good thing. Ha! (I'm not in costume here.) The next race has a superhero theme and I am already working on my costume.

When I say race, I use the term loosely. Regis and I walked with Mary and Laurie and we were at the very tail end of the pack, one step in front of the sweepers. Sweepers are the folks who come at the end to make sure nobody is left behind.

These ladies, Chris and Kristi, have been our inspiration. Regis affectionately calls them the Rah Rah Twins. They must have put 10 miles on in that 3.2 mile race. They were back and forth encouraging, dancing, singing, and grabbing your arms for a few steps. We love Chris and Kristi.

I know. I look like I am busting through the finish line as a winner...and I guess I am. Just not in the time category! The fastest person ran 3.2 miles in about 18 minutes. Whoa. Regis and I finished in about 58 minutes with a 20 minute pace. Hurray for old farts!

This is most of my Livestrong family. Joyce and Andrea are missing and there are a couple of strays from the last class who we learned to know and love in a few short times together. They have amazing stories. Such resilience and such strength.

So, that's my livestrong story. If you know someone with cancer, encourage them to check this out Livestrong at the YMCA and if you know someone who might be willing to support this wonderful cause, tell them to check out the Runstrong Series right here. Run like a superhero! Run like a Livestrong Warrior!

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