Why I Run June 05 2015

"Running is not just for those who are fit and healthy and strong. Running is a life-breathe for those who struggle with physical and mental illness, self-doubt, loss, anger, regret and other unspeakable pains. Why? Because running has the power to heal, to bring perspective, to instill confidence, to restore sanity and to make us believers again. This is why I run.” - Susan Husband

A friend posted this quote this morning, and Susan Husband's words truly hit home with me.  Happy Puppies makes charitable donations a top priority.  But do you know why?

On November 24, 2010, my worst nightmare came true.  My sweet, funny, healthy (or so I thought) son was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).  The genetics of his disease were quite favorable, so I was told that Josh had a 95% chance of an event-free (meaning no relapse or death) five-year survival.  

We headed into treatment optimistically, but two weeks later, Josh had not responded to chemo as well as he should have.  Chances dropped to 90%.  Two more weeks passed, and he still hadn't responded as well as he should have. Boom.  Chances are now 85%.  

Eighty-five percent still leaves great odds, right?  Wrong.  Eighty-five percent, 90%, 95%...those are NEVER acceptable odds when you are talking about your child.

But, what was a mom to do?  I was completely helpless.  I watched my child grow weak, with dark circles under his eyes.  I sat in hospital rooms while he slept through his numerous blood transfusions and chemo infusions.  I stood by his bedside, helpless while my child screamed in pain as he received shots of chemo into his thighs.  I stood, helpless, as children we knew lost their battles.  Became part of that 15%.  Helpless.

Josh grew stronger.  Fourteen months after his diagnosis, Josh was healthy enough to return to school and even his beloved baseball, even though he still faced more than two additional years of chemotherapy.  I continued to sit on the couch and sob in my Ben & Jerry's.

Until one day, Josh's first nurse, Melissa, put together a team to run Disney's Wine and Dine half marathon in memory of Tiffany, a girl we all adored, who had just lost her battle with a different form of Leukemia.  Her poor body, battered after fighting acute myeloid leukemia twice, could not recover after her bone marrow treatment.  Josh and I loved Tiffany, and Melissa encouraged me to put down the ice cream (still haven't...don't judge) and get up off the couch.  I got up off of that couch, laced up my sneakers and joined Team In Training to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Where I once felt helpless, I found strength.  Where I felt despair, I found hope.  Where I was lost, I found myself.

I am a runner.  I am strong.  I am saving lives.

I have run with Team In Training since June 2012.  And I have seen the results!  The research that LLS is funding is currently saving lives!  I have done something!  Josh is now one year off-treatment, and will be starting seventh grade in the fall.  My son is a part of the 85%.

I often say that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society helped to save Josh's life.  But Team In Training saved mine.

Go Team!