My journey - battling lymphoma

Recently I celebrated my 46th birthday. I love celebrating birthdays! Then I participated as a co-captain for our local "Quabog" Relay For Life and the Pack 57 Rocks! Cub Scout Team. This was the time frame that I had discovered an uneasiness in my stomach and growth in my spleen and stomach. After weeks of monitoring, my husband Steve took me to the doctor who felt the lumps and ordered a CT scan. The CT scan showed a massive area, my spleen enlarged to twice its size and an additional growth lower in my stomach. Next was the localized CT guided biopsy and subsequent PET scan. The biopsy showed positive for lymphoma and most likely Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma.

This is my online journal sharing my experience through battling this cancer that has abruptly entered my life for no apparent reason. The story is documented here if you want to start from the beginning, you can check the archives on the side bar.

As a top competitive master athlete this year winning my age group at the Marine Corps Marathon and placing 3rd in the New England Trail Running Championship I have been truly excited with my results of late and am a truly driven athlete. Driven by goals.... my goal right now.... to beat this "thing"!

Monday, April 11, 2011

7 days till the Boston Marathon ..... "My Story"

My Story





I was recently asked to share my story - 

My story is one of will, dedication, committment, years of training and racing.    Accumulating what seems like millions of hours of time that I have put in preparation.... and now another marathon - another day at the start line of a race, this time the Boston Marathon - the grand daddy of them all! 13 days from today  - bib 9162, wave 2, corral 1 - standing, stretching, anticipating that start gun, with more than 20,000 runners headed from Hopkinton to Boston!  This will be my 6th Boston and my 27th marathon.  

It doesn't always come easy, getting out of bed each morning, but I am motivated by my loving husband, Steve who encourages me to get myself going and catch those ponytails! That plus my rambunctious "full of energy" son cheer me on at each race and give "me" the training time to put myself to work - to increase my mileage, speed or endurance as a whole.  I am so proud that I can perform at the higher levels like I have proven in the recent past - with a seventh place master finish in 2007 with a 3:05 at Boston and then 7th master again in San Fransisco at the 2007 Nike Woman's marathon  and then winning my age group at the Marine Corps Marathon in 2009. I qualified in 2008, at age 43 for the World Championship 1/2 ironman and the US National Championships for the Olympic distance - - on my own raw talent, because anyone that really knows me, knows I am of the "less is more theory" with all I have to juggle in life. I am self coached by "Greta Gamin" , my Ipod nano, and my training buddy, yellow lab Oakley. I research training plans online, communicate online with other runners and just get up and put my feet on the pavement each and every morning.  

It hit me like a ton of bricks last July when I was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B Cell lymphoma that running was my focus to keep my sights forward and always moving ahead.  I had signed up for the Chicago Marathon, and with God's will I would have the strength to endure chemo, endure training and complete the marathon.  It was a challenge I put before me and as a goal oriented person I knew I would do it.  Many may have doubted that I could do it, but when I was finally out there with tingly feet & hands, as hydrated as possible, with the goal to finish ---- it happened.  I crossed the line with all that support behind me from friends, family, colleagues.  My husband was there for me every step of the way, and my friend Cara dressed as BatGirl to support me in the marathon each mile while I wore my Wonder Woman outfit.   Feeling like Wonder Woman we crossed the line with a 3:57.  

My last chemotherapy treatment was in November.  Now I had my sights on Boston, recruiting the Dream Team to join me on the line again and adding a couple more to the team we were perched for success!  But they found something in my spleen and weren't sure that maybe the cancer was still growing inside of me.  On February 28 they removed my spleen to biopsy it and determine if more chemo was needed.  I waited a week and 3 days for the results, but got the call that there was no cancer in the spleen and I was "good to go"!  It was another challenge coming back from major surgery in such a short time frame before Boston.  The pain was tough to bear, even riding in a car at first, but I slowly moved beyond the pain and recovered enough to run and get some additional training in before the big day.   

Now, with only 7 days till the Dream Team meets me in Boston to rally that route from Hopkinton to Boston chills go up my spine thinking about what a year it has been for me.  The challenges before me have made me focus even more on that end result.  I hope to inspire others to focus on the goals, all the good feelings, the ups and not the downs.  I hope to share with others that you need to be as strong as you can be to get through the tough times and grow closer to that "pie in the sky" goal that you may set for yourself.  Live each day!  I have to end with my favorite quote from my "journey'

"Just remember that no one can hold you back from doing all the things you want to do.  Keep you goals in sight, take one day at a time, some days will be better than others, but every day is a blessing -so make each day the best it can be." 
  - Nancy E Cook, marathoner, cancer survivor, mother, wife & more!

The Dream Team is now less than $300 from our $15,000 goal!  Thank you to Cara, Charlie, DPittman, Matt and Jill all your amazing work!  


Photo:  My new "ride" for Boston --- a little Relay Purple in these Nike Lunar Glides -- LOVE em! :)

2 comments:

Shelley said...

I couldn't wait any longer...excellent post! I am so looking forward to following you at Boston. You continue to amaze, inspire, and motivate me to be a better runner and a stronger woman. Thank you, Nancy!

Joyce Pemberton said...

Nancy
It's been a long time since I've posted on your mind but girl..you have been on my mind and in the inner chambers of my heart. Rarely in life do we have the priviledge of knowing someone who motivates us and moves us to action - but you have done just that. I love you dearly and am proud of you although I have no right to be...since I have contributed nothing to your success...but am proud of the way you have walked this journey. You have taught many a life lesson and given your son a nugget that he will not even fully come to appreciate for years to come...but it is there. Love you sweet girl!!