This weekend found me struggling to balance some "highs and lows" the best way I knew how. Saturday was a day for reflection as once again, sadly, I joined my cyber-support network MPIP (Melanoma Patients Information Page) in mourning the loss of another member to melanoma.
Heather was a fellow blogger and in the fight of her life, as so many Stage IV cancer survivors often are. Her posts on the MPIP list and on her blog were funny, honest (painfully so at times) and always inspiring. She, like so many other cancer survivors, was the epitome of courage, strength and fire! Here was a woman for whom the LiveSTRONG motto "Attitude is Everything" was coined. After a two year battle, Heather laid down her gloves on Friday. My heartfelt condolences go out to her family and friends and I can only hope they know that she will now forever live STRONG in the hearts and minds of so many people beyond her immediate family because she had the courage to share her experiences with so many other cancer survivors.
So with Heather on my mind, I set our for my first bike ride of March. I pulled on my CCC long sleeve jersey for the first time since it arrived just two weeks ago and I did the hardest 30 mile loop that I could find close to my home. For those who live in my area, I did the northern route of the Custis trail which includes a 2 mile stretch of steep, short rolling hills. The climb start with a long 1/2 mile grind, that levels off for about 1/2 mile and then winds up a short steep *S* curve and then along to a set of short double rollers that will put you in your smallest gear and out of the saddle less than 50 feet from the start of the climb.
The Custis Trail has always been a *litmus test* of sorts upon which I gauge my current fitness. There was no doubt in my mind that Custis would hurt this time around, especially caring my extra 40 pounds this season. I didn't mind the hurt, I welcomed the burn and the ache and I thought of how luck I was to be able to be on this hill, climbing, aching and breathing. I thought about how hard Heather fought, hours in radiation, and she never expected anything but success.
So I climbed and I climbed hard and as I hit the top of the last climb at mile 14, I took a deep breath and said "That was for you Heather! Now you can forever Live STRONG."
What more can I do? I'm one of the lucky ones and that is something that I will never forget nor take for granted. Every ride on the bike, every moment in the pool, every mile on the road, every smile, every hug, every new *hello*, every finish line - they are gifts.
Today's 5 mile run was just for me ... the wind was in my face on the *out portion* of my run and pushed me gently along on the way home and it struck me that it was a perfect example of how life is on a day to day basis. Either we are pushing against something (stress, problems, illness) or we are getting a gentle push. (love, friendship, a good tailwind) Our job is to keep moving forward...
and continue to Live STRONG.