n the early summer of 2010, I was heading into the final long runs in
my marathon training. I was scheduled to run the San Francisco
marathon on July 25th. I was very nervous about the race. Having one
marathon under my belt, I felt ready for the distance but was starting
to feel anxious about the challenging hills I was to face in San
Francisco. At the same time, my father was prepping for knee
replacement surgery scheduled for July 6th. A surgery he was more than
willing to undergo. One that would finally put an end to nagging knee
pain. He would have to deal with some down time and physical therapy
post op, something my very active father was not exactly looking
forward to, but for a life free of knee pain, it would be worth it.
While still in the hospital, Dad got sick post-op. A test relative to
that discovered a mass in his trachea. That is the day our lives
My father was diagnosed with Adnoid Cystic Carcinoma, a very rare form
of cancer. ACC is typically found in the head or neck; 1,200 new
cases are diagnosed a year. Within the next month, he was scheduled
for his first surgery of what was to be many more to come.
Things that seemed like big hills before us - his physical therapy for
his new knee, my upcoming marathon - now seemed so trivial. A cancer
diagnosis became the new mountain.
I lost my Dad, my hero, my inspiration, in April 2012. He fought
harder than I've ever seen anyone fight for anything in my life. He
stayed positive. Hopeful. He was willing to do anything. Try anything.
No treatment was to hard. From multiple surgeries to chemotherapy to
more radiation treatments than I can count where he had to lay
completely still, uncomfortable, in pain for long stretches at a time
(during which he would make up funny poems to pass the time...yet
another indication that Dad's sense of humor was always in tact, no
matter what!). He wanted to live. "Set 'em up and knock 'em down."
That's what he did. Get this treatment, surgery, appointment done and
move on to the next. Every time I asked him how he was feeling, he
always responded with, "Better today than yesterday!" That strength,
drive and determination was with him until the end.
So why am I running the San Francisco marathon? This year the race is
July 16th, three years since my father's diagnosis, a little over one
year since we lost him. The San Francisco marathon still seems like
such a difficult run to complete for a different reason. The hills no longer seem like
just an annoying part of a race; something to hurry up and get through, now they represent the mountains my
Dad suddenly had before him when he was diagnosed that summer. What he
had to climb during his fight against cancer. I didn't run San
Francisco in 2010. It wasn't important. Now it is. It is important
because of what it represents to me. Because it will always make me
think of what my Dad was faced with. And because the Adnoid Cystic
Carcinoma Research Foundation needs help. It doesn't get the publicity
of many of the more well know cancers because it is so rare. I want to
run and raise funding that will go directly to the ACCRF. I want to
know that their researchers are getting help from me, from you,
because if there was one thing that my Dad said over and over during
his fight, it was "If there is anything I can do to help someone else
down the road, I'll do it." It's my turn to carry on that wish.