Running With Cancer – Not From It

The minute you have cancer, you’re either a survivor or a casualty, and, at worst, a victim. Don’t give me the statistics. Like my dad said when he became a cancer survivor over 10 years ago, “You’re either in the 100% or the 0%” (100% alive or 0% alive). When it showed up again and it was my turn we didn’t ask, “Why me?” or discuss the ins and outs of how “it’s not fair.”  Everyone has their own cancer, their own peckl, dreck, struggle or challenge. We’ve all got something going on and it’s just a tiny part of living. I like to use the analogy of the pixel. If you zoom in on a digital photo you can see individual colorful squares or pixels, but not the full picture. Zoom out and you’ll see what’s really going on. I don’t really connect with the metaphor of the cancer battle. For me, life is not a war or a fight. Life is a giant canvas and we are all tiny pixels. Every soul is an important part of the big picture. Someday we may each merit to see that giant work of art…somewhere.

Life isn’t something to fight with, quit, or run away from. Try to run from it, but you can’t so just keep on going. Keep running. Stay alive and strong. Run with the Cancer and not from it.

My dad (survivor) & me during my first stint of chemo in 2012

In my university days, I ran the Jerusalem half marathon two years in a row, I ran the San Diego half marathon, and the longest distance I ran was 35 kilometers straight with my dad when he was training for the Jordan ultra-marathon.  I’ve never done a full marathon and it’s not something I plan on trying.

I made up my mind that I’m never too sick to run and I’m probably a lot better off with the adrenaline coursing through my veins right along with chemo, or the clinical trial drugs, or whatever it is I’m taking. My favorite drug nowadays is adrenaline. I look forward to running 10 or 12 kilometers nearly every day. It’s the only thing that keeps me sane. I love the wind drying my sweat. I’m invigorated by my heart beating with extra life. My running gives me a break from feeling like a broken record with the needle stuck in a cancerous groove that repeats the same 1.8 seconds of track over and over again. L-rd have mercy!

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Running in Beer Sheva 2015

The longer I run with cancer the more I realize that my kind of cancer is pretty great at keeping up. People I bump into say, “Wow, you are glowing!” and, “You look great!” and I say, “Thank you!” Isn’t it a miracle? I have cancer and I don’t look hideous on the outside. Hallelujah!

The best element of being out alone on a run is what goes on in my mind. My mental state disconnects from my physical state and I experience life and thoughts that I’m otherwise unavailable for. It’s wonderful. It’s just me, my Sauconys, and my music. There’s no cancer on a run and I sure feel like I’ve earned the break. Maybe the cancer will slow down and stay a few vital paces behind. I’ve witnessed a few miracles and I’ll keep looking for them. I’ll keep on running for as long as these legs will carry me.

Please continue to daven (pray) for Ahava Emunah bat Chava Ehta.