More cancer???

More running???? 

Yes and yes.



The only way I knew how to deal with my dadís second cancer diagnosis was to hold on tight and run. Like a marathon, I put one foot in front of the other, focusing solely on the moment, because looking ahead can be too scary and completely overwhelming. On such a long journey, you quickly learn to savor the good moments, celebrate the small victories and save your strength for the times when things get really rough.

And they do get rough.

Training for a marathon, like life itself, involves intense commitment, sacrifice and more than a little bit of pain. During my very long runs I would let my imagination run wild (or was it delirium?) and could envision my family cheering me on- supporting me when I needed it most. I would imagine the hugs at the finish line and could see the photo of the four of us in my head. What a hard fought, hard earned, celebration with the people I love most.

Through both journeys I was blessed to have many hands to hold along the way. During the recent moments of fear and anger surrounding my dadís newest cancer, I again used imagination and let myself be held up by my new teammates and so many old, dear friends. Like the marathon, the finish line was sweet. The surgery appears to have been successful and the celebration was well earned and savored immensely.

Each ending is a new beginning, and just because we have already accomplished amazing things, the fight is still ongoing. There are so many milestones to achieve and finish lines to cross. 

Every 5 minutes, someone is diagnosed with a blood-related cancer. That ringing phone is the scariest sound in the world. The resounding word of the conversation is c-a-n-c-e-r and is leaves a crater in your heart and a lump in you throat. 

And the journey continuesÖ

As I begin my second marathon training program with Team in Training I am aware of the changes. First, I have been selected as a mentor to the programís new participants, allowing me to share my remarkable respect for this brilliant organization. Second, no longer am I naÔve to the pains and struggles of an intense 5 month running program. I begin these 18 weeks aware of how long 4 hours of running really is and the level of dedication it will take to succeed.

When I began fundraising last May for the New York Marathon, I turned to my family and friends to celebrate the one year anniversary of my dadís first diagnosis and, then hopeful, remission. In the past 2 months, my world was shaken and I realized that I was blindly holding on to the faith that all was well and he was untouchable. I was wrong, and now am running so that no one else gets that heart breaking phone call I received on the evening of January 6.

I will line up at the start of the Suzuki Rock and Roll Marathon to run another 26.2 miles exactly five months from the day that I received the awful news of my father's second diagnosis. I will run in celebration, fear, joy and pain, because the marathon is a microcosm of life and of life with cancer. The journey is long, scary and often beautiful. Sometimes you need your hand held, sometimes you have to be the pillar of hope and always , you draw strength from the people you love.  I will need an amazing amount of help to make it to California and I hope that you are again willing to be so generous. 
In addition to my commitment as a marathoner and Mentor , I have accepted the challenge of raising $3,000 by March 22. I know that many of you supported me as I achieved my goal of raising $1,200 for the New York City Marathon. I thank you for your kind donations and hope you are able to give again. Because more than 75% of each donation goes directly into research and patient support, you can relish the fact that you too are helping save lives and stop cancer.
Please realize that anything helps. As I have learned over the past two years, sometimes just the power of encouraging words makes all the difference. 

Below is a link to make an online donation, if youíd prefer to make a donation via check, send me an e-mail at heather_whitaker@hotmail.com and Iíd be happy to give you all the info youíll need.

Thank you in advance for your commitment to put a stop to cancer and for supporting me on this incredible journey. May 2004 be full of joy and hope to us all.

Much love always,

Heather Whitaker


(P.S. Donít forget to check back to read about my training and fundraising progress!!)




This site is maintained by Peter Klein and is not associated with the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society, Team-in-Training or The Light the Night Walk other than the participation in the Society's  programs of the individuals included in this site.  
Last updated on February 25, 2004 .