Annie gave me The Look that I’ve become all too familiar with…
You’re doing what?
I saw it after college when I moved to Key West. I saw it when I told her about my plan to go to Bangladesh because my underwear was made there.
She had just returned from a full day of work and was smartly clad in her office attire. I was still in my writer’s uniform: shorts, ratty T-shirt, and barefoot. I looked like her jobless, thirty-something, live-in mooch.
“I’ve committed to running the NYC marathon and raising $3,000…”
(insert The Look)
The look softened.
Annie knows cancer. She works at a radiation treatment center. She takes pride in smiling at patients and their families. Annie and her co-workers become part of the patients’ daily routine.
The treated are cared for. The survivors are rejoiced.
Cancer takes its toll. Paychecks are reduced as work is missed. The hours and miles to and from treatment are added up. The emotional mileage accrues exponentially.
Annie’s aunt, both of her grandmas, and her mom are survivors.
I’ve never been there for anyone who had cancer. When Annie’s mom was diagnosed I was traveling in Australia. I remember finding out at a payphone on the beach. I know that it’s kind of selfish to focus on my own emotions here, but I felt guilty. Gloria’s support system was amazing and I wasn’t a part of it. Friends and family drove her to treatments, made meals, and were there just to talk.
When I returned from my trip she was pale, and (this is the thing I remember most) her hairless nose dripped water when she leaned over. Everything seemed to take a lot of energy, even smiling. But smile she did. There was strength in that smile – the strength from others’ smiles, wet shoulders, cancer stories, borrowed wigs, and gifted bandannas.
It’s always bugged me that I wasn’t there for her.
Every time I leave on an extended trip I think about the payphone in Australia by the beach and second-guess myself. Nothing I ever do will make up for not being there.
Still, when I was asked to run the NYC marathon for Team Continuum, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity.
Team Continuum helps people who are living with cancer today. They care for the immediate needs of patients. Team Continuum is not a research-based organization. For them, it’s about the care and not the cure. Though they fully support research and are grateful for it, they focus on helping today’s cancer patients and their families. They do things like give gifts to children in cancer hospitals during the holiday season and hire a nutritionist for a cancer center (Continuum Cancer Center) that did not have enough resources. The organization is about helping people that are living with the disease today, trying to help in the fight for survival and to improve life for cancer patients. To quote a letter from the NYU Cancer Institute, “the funds raised through Team Continuum for direct patient care fills in the gap for the small things that make a difference in the cancer therapy experience for patients.”
I’m a proud member of Team Continuum. I’m running 26.2 miles for Gloria, Betty, Clara, Karen, and all the others who have been touched by cancer.
Please sponsor me in support of someone you know who is battling cancer or pay tribute to a loved one you have lost. Email me the name of the person you are honoring in your donation or list it in this post after donating and I will wear their name proudly on my team shirt as I run. All donations are tax deductible. To learn more about Team Continuum and make a donation online, go to my donation page.
If you don’t feel comfortable making a contribution online, email me at Kelsey@travelin-light.com and I will mail you a donation form.
Whatever you can give, I appreciate your support.