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My Story

images.jpgIf you’re visiting from my TNT site, thank you and welcome! I want to share my reasons for running again with Team in Training:

It was a dark and rainy night (as it so often was in Britain) and I was well into my sixth month of studying abroad in Bournemouth, England, when my mom called from back home. I didn’t have a phone in my room, so I was outside in a classic British phone booth. As I listened to the rain pour down around me, her tone of voice told me she wasn’t calling to chit-chat about the weather.

Instead, she told me they found a large mass near my Papa’s liver. The silence, emptiness and loneliness that hit me after that sentence was almost unbearable; it felt like my air was sucked out of lungs and someone punched me in the stomach.

The rest of the conversation was a blur. After hanging up with my mom I felt alone and isolated, and as the days and weeks flew by, so did results from countless number of tests, which all came back inconclusive. My parents canceled their first trip overseas in order for my dad to take more tests to see if the tumor was cancerous.

On May 5, 2005, a month before my time in Britain was up and my plane departed from London, my mom called me again. My Papa was officially diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and would start chemotherapy immediately.

Chemotherapy and cancer. I tried my best to wrap my head around what was going on, and through hot tears streaming down my face I tried to give my mom the support I knew she needed from over the phone. The reality of what was going on made me realize it was time for my adventures and traveling to end. There were more important things to worry about back at home.

Emotions overtook my senses as I stepped onto American soil for the first time. I was anxious to see my friends who promised to meet me at the airport, and of course, to see my family. As I walked out of the security section I scanned the sea of heads for familiar faces. Instead of seeing any of my friends, I spotted my dad walking towards me with open arms.

just a few days into chemo. he would lose his eyebrows a couple days later.
just a few days into chemo. he would lose his eyebrows a couple days later.

I stopped in the middle of the airport as he was walking towards me. Just from looking at him I could tell his first chemo treatment had already started taking a toll on him: he had lost a lot of weight, was using a walking stick, and his thick black hair was gone, replaced with a smooth bald surface—a few weeks later, his eyebrows and eyelashes would disappear. What remained was his sense of humor and his optimism, and the best darn hug I ever could’ve received. 

The chemotherapy treatments took a toll on him both physically and emotionally, and changed me forever. Now, four years later, my Papa is in remission and my hope is that families will ever have to go through this, but if it should ever happen, I hope they know there are organizations out there like LLS that will help them every step of the way. That is why I am doing this…to help pay it forward and get rid of cancer for good.

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