The fourth of July brings to mind my childhood on naval bases waiting hours for the synchronized fireworks display, “camping out” with the family and sneaking off to McDonald’s to get sundaes. July 4th banked a lot of happy memories for me. Last year I ran the Coronado July 4th 15k with my Glam Sister Monika. Decked out in our Miss American Pie tutus we finished together happy and smiling, yet it was the first time I knew something was undeniably off. We posted a 1:22:48, an 8:49 pace. A struggle for me but a time normally pretty easy for Monika. I heard it in her breathing, she wasn’t operating on 100%. We had no idea this would be the last race together before she was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer.
A year later, so much has changed yet so much of it has remained the same. One of the first questions she asked the doctor when he first told her she had a tumor was, “Could I run a marathon?” We were both signed up for the Marine Corp Marathon last October but because of her scheduled biopsy she would not be able to run the race. A couple of amazing women stepped in and geared up in our Team Mokie shirts we ended up running the race in her honor. It was a bittersweet experience.
Instead of being angry, or sad, Monika was annoyed. How dare this tumor get in the way of her life! Since her biopsy she has been working hard to get back her strength. By December she was racing again. It took chemotherapy to slow this girl down enough for me to keep up! I am no doctor, but I think exercise has really helped her with the effects of her treatment.
Although I have to keep in mind that cancer and cancer therapy effects everyone different, Monika has taught me a way of thinking that I hope I put into practice on a daily basis. Adversity in life is inevitable. How someone handles adversity says a lot about a person. I could only hope to handle it with the grace and strength my friend has demonstrated to everyone around her.
Tomorrow we will run the Coronado 4th of July 15k again. So much has changed and yet so much has stayed the same.