Saturday, April 12, 2014

Let's Race-Be The Match

Before I became a mom, there were two things that I looked forward to doing with my kids one day: eating ice cream and racing together. At four months after having Ava, I knew that ice cream was out as I listened to the allergist explain that her painful eczema sores were due to food allergies. At one years old, Ava had her first allergic reaction followed by many more anaphylactic reactions as the years went on. My hopes of sharing a scoop of ice cream from Baskin Robbins on a hot summer's day were dashed. I know it sounds silly. It's just ice cream. But I love ice cream and this felt like a pretty big loss.

Equally as important was the thought that I might run a race with her striding alongside me. I've been a runner for a long time. Throughout the years, I've run a good number of races. I trained intensely for several of them. That meant long hours at the gym logging up to 35 miles a week. It meant new shoes every few months and shin splints and patella pain. It meant dedication, perseverance, and pain. All the discipline required to train my body to reach new goals made me feel confident that I could handle almost anything that came my way. Watching Ava grow up, I've come to realize that no amount of physical strength could have prepared me for the searing pain of seeing my child teeter between life and death.

On August 14, 2011, Ava and I ran our first race together. She had seen a commercial on t.v. adveristing the WTTW Fun Run to support Channel 11. She began to talk about it regularly and finally asked if she could run it. I'll never forget the giddy excitement I felt as she asked, "Mama, could we go to the Fun Run for my birthday." The Fun Run was being held on her birthday that year. She was turning 3. How much more perfect could our first race be? We pinned on our numbers and laid out our running gear the night before like I had done many times in the past. But this time seemed to matter the most because I felt like life with my girl was just starting. I dreamed ahead to all the races we'd be running together as partners.

Today, we will be running our second race together. We'll be participating in the Be The Match Walk/Run to raise funds for patients looking for a second lease on life through a Bone Marrow Transplant. Be The Match is the world's leading non-profit organization focused on saving lives through marrow and cord blood transplantation. I could never have imagined that our second race would be for such a personal cause. We haven't trained a step for this race. In fact, the last time I ran was probably a year ago. Ava, who never let her asthma attacks get in the way of a good chase, has been weak lately. Her stamina has been greatly affected by her disease and the medications she's on.

But, I think she's got this. She has all the qualities that make a runner good. Whether it was in trying to overcome her allergies or, now, trying to beat her cancer she's been running a race for some time now. And she perseveres with so much inner strength and poise and grace. I don't know how many races we'll get to run together in the future but I'm cheering her on in her current marathon as she runs with all her might to win back her life. Even if she runs 100 marathons down the road, I'll never be as proud of her as I am now.

You're doing real good, baby girl. Keep going. We'll run this one together.

"The cure for blood cancer is in the hands of ordinary people. You could be the cure." -Be The Match


Joo Park said...

I just cried when I watched video. Ava, you are so beautiful...I don't know you might remember me...I am a mom of ALL survivor and I heard your story from my aunt. She is very close friend of your parents. I believe that God will take care of everything for Ava and you.

Mary Klein said...

So inspiring. You all remain in my thoughts and prayers.♥