Published on November 16, 2017
Do you remember that ‘90s song from TLC about chasing waterfalls? Of course, this song could be interpreted in many ways, but it’s catchy and always seems to get stuck in my head. The song encourages you to not chase waterfalls and to stick to the rivers and lakes that you’re used to. Well, TLC I beg to differ. I think we should be chasing the waterfalls. It’s what makes life such an adventure.
The reason this song is in my head is because this past weekend, I ran a half-marathon in Silverton, Oregon that went through the state park and passed through several waterfalls. It was a bucket list race for me, because it always sells out quickly, and I’ve heard it’s beautiful. This year I added the registration date to my calendar and patiently waited for the registration to open. As soon as my calendar reminder went off, I logged in, and I successfully got in!
The race loops around seven waterfalls (in front of and behind) and is filled with beauty and challenge. With the weather in November, there’s a good chance of rain, which also means there’s a good chance there’s going to be puddles. To be honest, I’m much more of a road racer, since you tend to stay a little cleaner, and logistically they’re easier to run. Trail runs are usually tougher with a lot more obstacles and mud involved. However, after this race, I’m now a huge fan of trail racing.
The race started with the rain pouring. And at first, I tried to avoid the puddles, but it became very clear no matter what, I was going to get dirty. It made me realize that sometimes it’s just easier to embrace the puddles and run through them. Turns out, running through ankle-deep puddles isn’t so bad. In fact, getting a little dirty is actually a lot of fun! This also reminded me that sometimes life is messy, and we should really just embrace the mess and run joyfully through the puddles. Even though this was a race, I decided to really enjoy the course, so I stopped to take several photos along the way. I finished respectively and can’t wait to do it again next year.
As I’m approaching my 7th survivorversary (end of chemo and treatment), I’m reflecting on what it means to live well. I’d like to think I’m doing the right things. But to be honest, I thought I was doing that before cancer. Funny how life is now referred to as before cancer (BC) and after cancer (AC).
There are plenty of articles and studies on what you should do…but are they really telling us anything different than what we already know?
- Eat the right things like more plants, less meat, more whole foods and fewer processed foods
- Exercise every day
- Manage your relationships
- Stress less and rest
- Balance and moderation
But it all comes down to what works for us as individuals and how we balance our busy lives. What works for me (like running) may not work for you and vice versa. When I’m mentoring newly diagnosed folks, I always tell them to not forget to do what they love. Give yourself some space for grace and don’t give cancer the pleasure of taking away what makes you come alive. When you keep following your passion (your kids, grandkids, spouses, running, hiking, knitting, underwater basket weaving), then you keep your focus on the positive, and that’s all part of the healing process.
This last week, we lost a dear advocate in the breast cancer community. Beth Caldwell made a huge impact on so many. And while I knew Beth, I wasn’t close to her. Our paths crossed several times, and I’d like to think that we respected each other’s views. I admired her for all the work she did and her strong voice as she spoke out for all metastatic patients. She taught me a lot about advocating for something you believe in while not backing down, and challenging the organizations to be better and do better for the patients. Beth made it a point to chase the waterfalls knowing that sticking to the rivers and lakes were not how we were going to make progress in trying to find a cure for metastatic breast cancer. She was 41 and left behind a family, but she also left behind a legacy for all of us to carry on. Advocacy isn’t about just saving yourself; it’s about saving everyone with breast cancer. I won’t do it justice by naming all the amazing things she did, but I encourage you to read the story that Fred Hutch posted about her. She was amazing, made a huge impact on many of us, and I’ll never forget her.
At the starting line, running through life one race at a time,
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