I grew up in a very large family. And, while there were always siblings to play with, oftentimes we had to make our own fun. We didn’t have our parents’ undivided attention, we usually had to wait somewhere while another sibling was in music lessons, sports practice, or at a friend’s house. We didn’t have the luxury of iPods, iPhones or DVD players in the car. In fact, I remember “Mad Libs” being the game of choice in our car.

For a few nights, I had been desperately searching for a 5k to run. It seems every 5k that was available was well over an hour drive from my house, and I just didn’t have the time (nor the heart) to put my family through a long drive, a long wait while I ran, and then an even longer drive home.

So, I decided to “make my own 5k.”

Today was one of the most beautiful days we’ve had here in New England in a very long time. At the start of the “race”, it was 68 degrees, dry, breezy, and perfect. We were joined by a number of first time MB4M members: Tikola, Frank, John Ross, Randall, Jacqueline, Donna C., Lisa, and Janna; and we also had some old-pro MB4M’ers with Tammy, Chuck and me. We also had some special volunteers: Nicole, Kelly and Cristine who drove almost 2 hours to join us in our celebration!

Our special guests were Joli and Julia — two cancer survivors of retinoblastoma. Today’s event was a wonderful way to honor the challenges the two of these little cuties have overcome and to embrace their healthy futures. It was also an event to start many of us thinking about the ways in which we can renew promises to ourselves to get in better shape.  Their journey reminds me, each day, that we never know what’s going to be down the road. While no one could have neither predicted nor prevented retinoblastoma, there are certainly moments when we wonder, “What if retinoblastoma didn’t happen to them?’

Throughout this journey, I’m reminded that “better shape” doesn’t necessarily mean a better shape. While weight loss has most definitely been an outcome for many of the MB4M runners/walkers, it has not been an outcome — at all! — for me. But, today, I realized I can run faster, further, and feel stronger each time I put one foot in front of the other. My weight is the same. My pants fit the same. My outsides look the same. But, my insides have transformed.

As I get ready to completely alter the way my body looks from the outside with the double mastectomy, I know that, truly, the change will be on the inside. Post-surgery, I will have reduced my risk of hereditary breast cancer by nearly 98%. Once my surgery site has healed, no one will know that my breasts have been removed, that my new breasts will be silicone, nor that, temporarily, I will have no nipples nor areolas. But, inside, I’ll know that I am changed. I’ll be able to breathe easier. I’ll be able to confidently wake each day knowing that I will not battle breast cancer. I’ll be able to see a future with my family.

I will make my own future. I will make my own fun. I will make my own health.

Peace, love, and finding ways to make it your own,


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