Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Komen Race for the Cure: June 11

As you can see from the image above, I have decided to run the Komen Race for the Cure here in St Louis on June 11. I know it might sound ridiculous but I have put a lot of thought into whether or not I should register for this race. It's a charity event so I should do it without hesitation, right? In the 11 years I have lived in the St Louis area, I have competed in this race a half dozen times -- and two years ago I walked in the race to support my sister-in-law. Never in a million years did I think this would be an issue that would impact me personally. In fact, I stopped running the race a few years ago because the crowds were just too much for me. I know this is for a great cause, but it was just getting to hard to run around the zillion people walking in huge groups, blocking the road (and I haven't been fast enough to get way in the front to avoid all the chaos!).

Last year on the day of this race, Jim and I were off to St John's Hospital for my MRI in preparation for what would become the first of two lumpectomies. I remember feeling so relieved that I was not going to have to face all those groups of PINK around every corner (since the race happens downtown and we live downtown). Embracing the pink ribbon was not something I wanted to do. And I am still not sure if I am up to hanging out with that damn pink ribbon now but I am realizing that I need to get past feeling angry every time I encounter a pink ribbon in my daily life. This anger is below the surface and it's not something that I talk about with a lot of people. Before breast cancer, the only association I had with a pink ribbon was with Faith, the wife in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" -- a story I often teach in my American Literature class. In the story, Faith represents Brown’s religious/ spiritual faith and his faith in others/ society; her pink ribbons stand for innocence. But that is not the pink ribbon I see in terms of breast cancer support -- that pink ribbon is not innocent. Besides the issue of the ribbon being used to sell products (Ah! Let's buy that cereal because it has a pink ribbon!), I think of the image in terms of the word "survivor." I see them both intricately connected. I understand that I dodged a bullet with this whole cancer thing, but what about my friend Kate from my cancer support group? She died a few weeks ago (from a blood clot, not actually cancer) and now isn't a "survivor." I know she wanted to beat this thing and I will always remember the beautiful scarves (especially the purple one) that she wore to group, often noting how she looked forward to getting her "new hair." We were both diagnosed within a day of each other last year and I guess that is why we would often sit next to each other and talk before the group started. Though she was much older than I, we bonded over something neither one of us ever saw coming.

So, I guess what I am trying to say (not so clearly!) is that I have a complicated relationship still with breast cancer and with the Komen race. I think the money raised is great, but there are so many other cancers and illnesses that don't get enough press and I don't want to contribute to encouraging the "glamorization" of breast cancer! BUT .. and this is a big "but" ... this event has become more personal for me. People need to get mammograms and we need to find a cure for all cancers. Those are the only two goals for me.

That said, here is my personal link for Komen. Click here! I have decided to run the timed event (we start 5 minutes before everyone else) so I may not get as stressed with running around the large crowds. And I want to get this run down to under 25 minutes. My PR for a 5K is in the 23 minute mark but it has been a few years since I have been near that time. I would be delighted, though, to get something under 25 minutes. I haven't even been close to that in the past year or so.

So ... gulp ... bring on the pink!


  1. Run well...maybe you can wear a blue ribbon for me...colon cancer gets so little press :(

  2. Laurie -- I defintely will! You are so right! I will upload the picture of what I will wear! :D