Despite looking like a healthy 28 year old with an active lifestyle, I wake up each morning facing a battle with Fibromyalgia. After being diagnosed in May of 2011 I feel into a bit of a FIbro-funk and started feeling like I had lost a part of my identity. After over 20 years of being a dedicated active dancer it was hard to face the reality that my pain would never completely go away. One day I woke up and realized I was taking precious days for granted. I needed to get my butt back in gear and take advantage of what I’m so very lucky to have, so I set a hefty goal for myself.
On February 26th I donned my Livestrong apparel from head to toe and obtained my goal when I crossed the finish line of the Disney Princess Half Marathon 3 hours, 10 minutes and 4 seconds after crossing the starting line hand-in-hand with my most amazing boyfriend. We were just two runners in the sea of over 19,000 others who were all there to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). Paired with all of our fellow runners millions of dollars was raised for a cause that is near and dear to my heart. This amazing organization has helped my family directly and I couldn’t think of a better first half marathon experience than one that would benefit LLS. If the Disney volunteers weren’t motivational enough then the LLS volunteers and fellow runners were there to help push everyone across the finish line.
Despite severe knee pains starting around mile 6, I achieved my goal of not giving up and finishing all 13.1 miles with a smile on my face. It truly is a motivational run when you see how supportive all the runners are. Women cheered each other on, inspired each other and my boyfriend showed me just how much he truly accepts me for who I am and all that comes with that. My Livestrong shirt was stamped with the phrase “Fight Like Hell” and it became my motto of the day through the pain and slight rain. I watched cancer survivors run to raise money for the organization that helped them each step of their way without any hesitation. We ran as team “D.W.A.R.F. Awareness” in an effort to “Dance, Walk and Run for Fibromyalgia Awareness.”
Having Fibromyalgia, I knew there was a chance that my body would be pushed to its limit in trying to complete a race that lasted multiple hours with strenuous activity. Despite the few tears that popped up around mile 9 from the knee pain I knew I had a mission. I was there to walk for those who couldn’t right now. With each step the pain was more and more debilitating, but it reminded me of all that my loved one experienced during his multiple battles with Lymphoma. I watched him lose his hair and his mobility, but he never gave up and I knew I was meant to do the same. Each step closer to the finish line was for him. His strength to wake up each morning and continue to fight for another day kept me moving. I wanted to make him proud and complete the goal I set for myself when I told him I would finish no matter what challenge I faced.
For those who wake up to the daily challenge of cancer, know that you inspire those around you. You’ve touched our lives and we see your strength, even on the days when you might doubt it yourself. I was fortunate to have an amazing boyfriend by my side to lean on for strength. He is my rock like so many of the other runners are to those they love that are affected by cancer. He held my hand, reminded me that nothing could stop me when I put my mind to it, and pushed me forward so I would achieve my goal. His kind nature, acceptance and understanding of my challenges helped me give back to a loved one who has always been there for me when I needed him. Without a doubt I would do it all over again and I intend to do so while I encourage others to do the same for this amazing organization.