A Whole New Reason To Run

Raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society and being affiliated with Team in Training has raised my awareness of people fighting these terrible diseases. But this news really threw me for a loop. Check out Erin’s story.

My former student Erin found me on facebook recently, and when I took a quick look at her profile to see what she was up to, her most recent status update said “the chemo is working…”

Erin was both a student in my creative writing class in 2001 and a swimmer on the swim team for the two years I coached. She was our super-star distance swimmer, an absolute work horse, a totally dedicated and strong team member. Team captain. Relay Anchor. Naturally talented. So happy that she bounced when she walked on deck.

And she was such a good writer that I still know by heart a little part of a poem
she wrote in my class about the troubled relationship with her then boyfriend:

He is the ocean, afraid of the water.
I am the lifeguard, drowning.

Erin has Hodgkins Lymphoma. She was diagnosed in March after going to the doctor for a swollen lymph node above her clavicle. She is 25 and in her third year of law school in Vermont. And she has continued to go to law school throughout her treatments.

We’ve been exchanging emails like mad over the past few days, and she’s been filling me in on the whole story. She is unbelievably upbeat and confident about beating this. She is currently on her second type of chemo (the first didn’t work) which is called ICE. I know all about the ICE chemo as it was my dad’s third try. I saw what it did to my dear daddy, and I hate thinking of Erin suffering through those side effects. BUT whatever it takes! And it IS working. She is responding to the treatment and prepping for a stem cell transplant after this round of chemo is over.

Check out this little blurb from her blog, describing how she felt after the diagnosis:

“Hodgkins lymphoma. Every time I say it to someone, or to myself, or to explain why I have not been in class it feels a little more detached from me, Erin, who I actually am. Its like its happening to someone elses body. And here I am, the gawker, the nosey detail lover watching each moment of it. Up until my primary care physician said oncologist my body and I were quite friendly with one another. I knew its curves, its noises, its subtle aches, or the cravings, I listened to it, my body. And I in turn responded to its needs and wants. But now, after the first chemo treatment my body feels like a foreign territory.”

I’ve been teary and thinking about Erin so much over the past few days. It makes no sense. Cancer? Erin? 25-year old law student who was in perfect physical shape?

You better believe I’ll be running for Erin in San Francisco. Her name is definitely going on my shirt. I needed this reminder that the marathon, which will raise millions and millions of dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, is about something much much bigger and more important than my nervous little self.

I definitely have lost my perspective about all of this marathon business; at some point it accidentally became all about me. But I gained it back this week.

Thank you again to everyone who donated to LLS. Erin is who we are fighting for.

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