Since my diagnosis and treatment, I’ve been on a mission to keep it moving. I’ve intentionally set goals for myself that were meant to be challenging. The greatest feeling in the world is to accomplish what you once thought you couldn’t. When I was in treatment, I sought out individuals who helped remind me that there would be a brighter day. It was through their tribulation and triumph that I gained strength and vision. My keep it moving mission is meant to give hope to those going through the throws of treatment and/or a new diagnosis.
Since completing treatment, I have completed four sprint triathlons, 2 – 2day/30 mile breast cancer walks, and 130ish miles across 3 days from Key Largo to Key West. I have captained our team, Simply the Breast, for three years. We have raised over $39,000 for breast cancer programs and research in Georgia. I’ve joined an advisory board for Loving Arms Cancer Outreach. I’ve been honored and selected to serve as an Amoena Ambassador, Ford Warrior in Pink – Model of Courage, and Bring Your Brave campaign participant. I’ve had the privilege to share my story with others through various forms of media – print and tv – and in person speeches. I have been able to achieve more than I imagined I would. So, I've never been too afraid to continue dreaming BIG. In fact, I make a solid and conscious effort to do just that!
God has been good. He’s granted me brand new mercies every day! Unmerited Favor!
In February, I set my biggest tippy toe dream to date. It would be 24 – 30 hours of kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking – an intro to adventure racing. I had no doubt that I could achieve it. I put in "the work" before and accomplished each new goal I’d set for myself.
As the weeks passed, I experienced combo feelings of fear and excitement. I believed in my heart of hearts that I'd be ready. I bought a mountain bike. It was serious, y'all (smile). Mountain biking is not for the faint of heart. I climbed. I wrecked. I huffed and puffed. Checking off one requirement after the next, my confidence grew. I carried the little engine that could “I Think I can. I think I can” mantra. I hiked for 4 and 6 hours - my longest hikes to date. I biked for 44 miles - my longest bike to date. I was feeling awfully proud of myself.
In Early May, I received results from my blood work. Abnormal. My training became more sporadic. I wasn't sticking to the plan and that was unnerving. Somewhere between abnormal blood test results and missed training requirements, my confidence was broken. It wasn't long before it was altogether gone. At my tennis matches, I am the cheerleader who is heard. Fight, Fight, Fight! Every now and then, it’s good to know how to encourage yourself. It’s downright necessary sometimes. I was beginning to even lose the will to cheer myself on through this challenge. It was falling apart.
When the calendar rolled to June 1, I knew it was time for me to make a decision. I needed to have a reality check. Big Time! Am I ready physically and mentally to conquer this adventure? I asked myself one question after the other. At times, I was admittedly in denial (or I'd like to think aggressively optimistic!!!).
I decided that admitting that I’m not ready for Santa Barbara is the fair thing to do for the other adventurers, coaches, and trail angels. And, it’s the right thing to do for me.
That said, I’ve decided that I’m not going to do the Santa Barbara Adventure. It was a tough, tough decision. Even as I write this, I wonder if something / somehow I can do it. It’s the first time I’ve set out to do something since treatment that I’ve not been able to start and finish. I never knew that part of me would be the voice in my head that would scream the loudest. The voice that is afraid to fail and the voice that could deem this decision a failure wanted me to NOT change my mind. So, my cheerleader self kicked back in and said, "You are a winner! You're alive. You're breathing. You will continue to strive and achieve. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. Be Smart. You have not failed. "
Thankfully, Robyn and Project Athena will allow me to switch to an adventure later this year.
By then, prayerfully, I'll have some clarity on my health. Get another opportunity to sustain and regulate my workouts / training plan.
I will do the Keys to Recovery trip again later this year in November. Last year, it proved to be meaningful and challenging. 130 miles over 3 days is no cakewalk! Ultimately, I believe everything happens for a reason.
Last year during Keys to Recovery adventure, I met Cindy and Eric. I was immediately drawn to Cindy. I heard her story, and I was moved to tears. I knew Cindy for such a short period. But, she left a HUGE impression on me. Her life spoke volumes and signified a keep it moving mission. She inspired me! She STILL inspires me.
Several months after Keys to Recovery, I was in the kitchen & Cindy came to mind. I immediately sent her a message. (I happen to believe God plants people in our thoughts). I didn’t hear back from her for several days. So, I sent a message to her husband, Eric. When I did hear back from Cindy, I understood why she hadn’t responded. She had been told the cancer had spread. Oh, how my heart hurt for her.
Sadly, Cindy gained her wings this year. She touched our hearts deeply. I have to imagine that so many of us train(ed) with her in mind. I know I certainly do. Earlier this year, one of my best friends from my home town (in KY) asked me how I knew Cindy. (She’d seen my posts on FB). She said she’d met Cindy in Ohio. Cindy’s sister, Laara, was her next door neighbor. I thought, “No Way”! What a small world! Not only that, Tanisha told me that Laara now lives in the Metro Atlanta area. I touched base with her when I learned of Cindy's passing. Guess what?
Laara is doing the Keys to Recovery adventure in November.
This is where I feel God sometimes answers prayers. Directs or Redirects or paths …..
With my decision to switch from Santa Barbara to the Keys to Recovery, I have a training partner. Laara – Cindy’s sister! We plan to train together. We will be bonded both by the mission of Keys to recovery and the loving spirit of her sister. It will enrich my experience of this year’s Keys in a way that makes it feel like a brand new challenge.
I’m confident that God will prepare, keep, and take care of us along the way. He’s not failed me yet!
I wish the Project Athena Family taking on the inaugural Intro to Adventure Racing a very successful adventure! I know that it will be all that I’ve imagined and more. I hate that I’m going to miss out meeting some of the participants and coaches. I was also looking forward to my friend, Kerry, who had offered a stay in her home for me prior to the adventure. PAF love is strong! I am totally inspired by each of you and give you all kinds of high fives for getting through the tough training plan.
This dream is DELAYED but not DENIED.
I'll keep forging ahead & believing in myself even when the wind blows & I'm forced to adjust my sails.
Shout out and much thanks to Kerry Boyatt, who moved her schedule around to ensure that she could pick me up from the airport and let me stay one night before the adventure. Shout out also to Amanda Webb. She has been a great coach and sounding board! Thanks to my friends and family who continue to uplift and support me in all my grand adventures. I am also thankful that Robyn and Project Athena supports those of us who have to re-adjust our sails.
Hugs & High Fives, CC