Every day I find out more about myself.

On my many hours of running I have had time to wonder about my purpose. What I will do with my life now that I have been given more time? We are blessed to be in a position where I can stay home with Edith but this fall she will start full day school. I have always had this drive to help others. I enjoy volunteering, visiting, creating, and moving. 

Over the past few months, I have encouraged friends and family to join races and go out for a run. My recovery has benefited from running so much and I want others to try. Now if you would have asked me 5 years ago to go for a run or train for a marathon, I would have laughed and gave a hard pass. So, I completely understand if someone just doesn’t have the interest to start. But, I had an idea for a club for those who want to move but just need the confidence to do so. 

Matt and I have talked about how we can turn 32-MILES into something more. Over the past month we have decided on a run club for survivors. Not a traditional run club, but a group where community and support trump competitiveness. Where movement, whether that be walking or running, can be a non-traditional route to a support group. Getting outside and moving have been essential to my healing. Talking with other athlete survivors has inspired me to reach for the impossible. I want to share this experience with others in the cancer community. 

I want to officially share with you, 32-MILES RUN CLUB. The mission of 32-MILES RUN CLUB is to be an environment creating new relationships, restoring confidence, and inspiring hope in all cancer survivors providing emotional support by encouraging healing through movement and community. 

This past Saturday, I set up a tent at an event in Huntsville sponsoring local cancer foundations with a buffalo wing cook off and 5k race. It was the perfect way to introduce my idea to the community. 

Photo curtesy of Greg Gelmis, WE RUN RACEPHOTOS

I was able to speak with many about this idea. I also spoke with three survivors. Each had said “I JUST had ____ cancer.” Or “I didn’t have it as bad as most.” Cancer has left each of us with a different view of what survivorship looks like. I am here to tell you there is no hierarchy in cancer treatments. You are still a survivor, whether you only had a small removal surgery or you are a stage 4 survivor who is continuing treatment week after week when no end in sight. You are still a survivor even if “some people have had it a lot worse than me.” 

After my first round of treatments I felt this way. I came out the other side, strong and in a decent mental place. So, in survivor groups, I felt out of place or undeserving to be there because I was “ok”. That didn’t mean I didn’t have fears of recurrence or frustrations with side-effects. Or even a different outlook on life. Having a group that I could relate to and joke about how miserable cancer was, something cancer muggles couldn’t relate to, I have found so important in my recovery. Over the years I have found many survivor friends. These friends have shown me what is possible, inspiring me by climbing mountains and running marathons. They have given me a different view of survivorship.  

I have created this group for all survivors- all diagnosis, age, male/ female. We are all part of this “cancer club” and can learn and grow from each other. I have found there is a need for a non-traditional support group where movement can break down barriers. A group that encourages survivors to move, better themselves, and join a community where others understand the struggles we have gone through.

In my journey in recovery and training, every day I find out more about myself. Things I thought my body wasn’t capable of doing, like running a half marathon, was done surprisingly easy. Running 3-4 times a week of 15+ miles, I thought would slowly tear my body down. In actuality, it has improved my physical strength and also my mental toughness. I have discovered while running my confidence was lacking. By creating and pushing myself to new goals, I was able to build it up and apply this confidence to other areas of my life. While running I had to make time for me, overcoming this guilt of doing something for myself, has left me more at peace and able to come back to my family refreshed and in a better mood. Running has let me examine my thoughts and see my purpose more clearly. Each day recognizing, I am worthy of good things and I deserve happiness. Cancer has made me stronger, more grateful, and that I live each day with purpose. I have found so much healing in getting out there and just running. This training every week has given me purpose to better myself and to help others. I want to share what I have learned and give these same opportunities to others.

I am so excited to start 32-MILES RUN CLUB. If you are a survivor I encourage you to join our Facebook group. This is a private group where we can share are achievements, encourage each other, and be a part of a community creating new relationships, restoring confidence, and inspiring hope.

The Instagram page is for everyone, survivors and supporters alike, to learn about what we do, where we will be, and how you can help. 

Today, I look forward to sharing with the world 32-MILES RUN CLUB. I can’t wait to see how we will grow and change the view of survivorship. Today, I will celebrate my victories with others and keep on training to reach my goal of running 32-MILES. 

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