“I choose to look at that brain tumor as the greatest gift I could’ve gotten – because it made everything else possible.”
– Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton
By the time Saturday morning arrived, I was beyond ready for my pity party. My teammates – fellow fundraisers for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s Team Challenge program – were about to run the Walt Disney World Half Marathon without me.
In fact, by the time I got up at 6 a.m., most of them were probably more than half-finished – it was 7 a.m. in Florida, and the race started at 5:30.
I had signed up for the race in the spring, and this was going to be my second half-marathon, after having withdrawn from a similar event in 2013 because of health problems.
I had been oh-so-excited to receive this note from my team manager a few weeks later:
I hadn’t planned to “do another Team Challenge race in 2014.” The previous year had been so challenging – healthwise, financially and emotionally – that Bruce and I decided I needed the break from long-distance training and the pressure of fundraising.
The fundraising is the hard part. The running, not so much. (I love the running part!)
But when the Disney half opportunity came up in late spring, the email made it so tempting:
“Our alumni are the first to know – Team Challenge has a BRAND NEW event. We’re headed to the happiest place on earth on January 10, 2015 for the SOLD OUT Walt Disney World Half Marathon! As an alum, you have the opportunity to get one of the TC entries before they’re open to the general public!”
This hit me on so many levels: “first to know” (I’m special); “alum” (I’m part of a select group); “SOLD OUT” (an opportunity too great to pass up!); Disney (a hugely popular race series, not to mention family destination).
So I signed up.
I began training and fundraising, and soon my shirt and the special note from Mickey arrived. 🙂
But this was about the same time that I also decided it was time to tell my doc about my increasingly worrisome blood pressure problems. Before my heart surgery in September 2013 (the reason I withdrew from the previous Team Challenge half-marathon), my BP had always been slightly below normal. Since the surgery, it had been high – the opposite of what one would expect after the surgery.
So we began the task of regulating it with medicine. I was hoping the doc would suggest something else, but that’s what we tried. We tweaked the medication all summer, with me monitoring and logging the BP readings taken at home (and continuing to train for the half), until one day, at a follow-up appointment in November, my doctor issued this plea:
“I wish you wouldn’t run any long distances until we get it stabilized.”
(Not her first time to admonish me about distance races.)
If Bruce hadn’t been at that appointment with me, and agreed with the doctor, I might have balked. But he is NOT AT ALL conservative about running. Annoyingly not.
So I agreed.
I withdrew from another Team Challenge event.
Fast forward to yesterday. (Although I had stopped participating in the weekly conference calls, I had remained on the team’s Facebook group – wisely or unwisely – and I continued to get team updates, travel info and training tips.) By the end of the week, the Facebook updates were at a fever pitch. Teammates were EXCITED, as expected. They posted travel plans, arrivals, where-to-meet plans, race expo updates, pasta party pics, post-race meet-ups, and on and on. Photos like this:
So by Saturday I had worked myself up to a sad mess.
I am happy – truly happy – for my teammates (most of whom I’ve never even met, except in video conference calls and on social media). They had a great time and – let’s not forget: They (we) raised $150,000 toward curing Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. With this ONE event, two-dozen people raised $150,000. (My part of that, before I withdrew, was about $3,600.) I helped bring us $150,000 closer to curing my husband’s disease. (That doesn’t count the other Team Challenge teams that raised money during Disney; I don’t know their totals.)
Sometimes I forget the big picture when I’m feeling left out.
But, finally, I remembered to do what I’m supposed to do at all times (even when life isn’t an immediate mess):
The pithy bumper sticker says: “When in doubt, pray.”
The Bible says: “Pray without ceasing.”
Putting my pity party on hold to pray helped me remember some things from my reading plan earlier in the day:
Those who are inclined toward God – who love him and want to do his will – will hear the voice of wisdom and respond. Those who have little depth and no desire for God – who can’t see beyond themselves and the present moment – will hear the voice of folly and respond. Two voices, two kinds of hearts; as a result, two drastically different journeys. (From Once a Day 31 Days of Wisdom.)
I want to have a heart that inclines itself to God, not to folly. Not to self-pity, or resenting the success or happiness of others. A HEART FOR GOD.
By the time I ran across this 10-minute video, my attitude was starting to shape up. Please take the time to watch it, even if you don’t remember Scott Hamilton from his glory days, even if you’re not into figure skating. Scott was an athletic superstar when testicular cancer sidelined him. Then, later, a brain tumor. And he lost his mom to cancer.
“I think I’m probably more known for my health problems now than for anything I ever did on skates,” he said. Scott could have let cancer stop him dead in his tracks.
BUT HE SAW THE BIGGER PICTURE.
Watching this video, just 10 minutes and 27 seconds of someone else’s journey, put my “problem” in perspective.
Now that you’ve watched it, and considered your own journey, what attitude will you choose? What will your life be about? It’s all a choice.
“She died of cancer, and I survived. What’s my purpose now?”