I'm not gonna lie, June is weighing a little heavy on my heart. I"m flooded with emotions that stem from memories both good and bad.Two years ago, this is the month I had my surgery and my very near death experience. Last year, I was hell bent on creating new memories to not necessarily replace the difficult ones, but to add to the depth of my journey. Since I can't really fly to my Arizona Spa or blissfully soak up the sun on the Jersey shore (thanks corona), this year I"m subconsciously remembering all of the pain, loss, triumphs and just emotional toll the whole thing called cancer has had on my life.I think it's probably amplified by the fact that the current pandemic has had me feeling pretty isolated and like the poster child for how and why to err on the side of caution when it comes to the "rules" of surviving a pandemic. I'm really tired of being the poster child for that, by the way. I'm also facing fear square in the eye once again. My clinical trial is kind of up in the air, which could be good or bad...(not really sure just yet), I'm learning more about some upcoming surgeries I will have at some point and I have a scan coming up in two weeks. Cue the scanxiety here. Just when I think I"m rolling through the day with a positive mindset and an optimistic outlook on everything... BAM!.... my mind starts racing with the what ifs and I starting playing out the scenarios of what it will be like with either set of news....Cancer Free or Recurrence. I know from my work with my therapist that it doesn't do any good to go there. In the here and now, I am ok....I get it, but I can't really help it. I'm human. I think on the outside I'm holding it all together, but on the inside, I"m a bundle of nerves, stress and tears. Pretty heavy stuff.
Today I was reminded of something, or I should say someone. A year ago today, the world mourned the loss of a beautiful soul. I had followed her story and felt as if we were kindred spirits even though we had never met. Gabriele Grunewald was an amazing runner, cancer warrior and human. I came across her story when I was knee deep in chemo and trying to keep up with my passion of running. Every person I encountered either expected I had given up my weekly mileage or suggested I might need to since you know, cancer had found it's way into my life. "You will be too tired" or "your body won't be able to keep at it", they would say. Now, I'm no Gabe by any means, but I had been logging some impressive miles and found such joy in racing up to that point. I didn't want it to end. So much was changing for me, I didn't want this taken from me too. Gabe made me think it was possible. I watched her go through treatment and still put on her running shoes. I know the pain of not being true to her passions, her life, hurt way more than the pain she felt in her body on those runs. She made me believe in myself and my ability to just keep going. Man, I had some terrible days of running. Tears were often involved, some days they still are. BUT, no one or nothing has ever taken it from me...not even cancer. I ran a half marathon on week 19 of chemo. I ran a Spartan Sprint 7 days before my surgery. I made it happen because I believed in something greater than my demons...I believed in myself. Gabe certainly didn't do that for me, I did it myself, but she helped me to believe I could fly when I thought the weight of the world would keep me grounded. It's weird to mourn someone you never knew. I guess that's just the type of person she was and the amazing legacy she has left behind. I still want to be like Gabe. I want to soak in the beauty of each day, even when it hurts a little more and it's scary to do so. I want to keep believing in my ability to find the grace I need to run through the fire with a grateful heart and determined spirit. Even when everything is weighing so heavily on my soul, I want to smile. I want to love and I want to see the good in every single experience. I want to inspire and be inspired. I want to work at leaving a legacy that will be admirable and worth remembering. Thank you Gabe, for reminding me that I can do hard things and I can be a kind, passionate and grateful warrior even in the dark times. The fire that is inside me will not go out. The things in me that some could consider broken, I see as powerful. A powerful reminder that I can overcome, I can persevere and I can take a challenge and turn it into a victory. I will continue to dream and chase after what makes me happy to be alive. I will unapologetically live true to me...I deserve that. As I continue through this month of challenges...I vow once again, here and now to be "Brave Like Gabe", because I know in my heart that being brave like Mia isn't too shabby. -M