The Background Story

Hello! Thank you for joining me!

I have started this blog to document my training for the Chicago Marathon on October 13, 2013 through the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation program. Let me start from the beginning…

In high school, I found running. I loved that I could think about everything and nothing at the same time while running. I made so many friends. My entire personality changed and I became more confidant with who I was. It was amazing to me how running solved all of my high school “problems.” My friends and I would hash out a bad day and solve all our problems by the end of our workout. I loved it. In Cross Country, I learned that I actually liked running long distances (despite my original thoughts about it)! And it has stuck with me since then. So, I guess you could say that I’ve been running for the better part of my life so far.

Fast forward to 2011. I started working at the American Cancer Society. This was a dream of mine. The loss of my mom to cancer when I was 16 made me want to spend my life fighting back against cancer. I took all my experience with the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life that I gained in college and made my dream of working with this organization into reality. If you’re going to fight back against cancer, why not do it with the largest cancer fighting organization in the world?

StaffA few of my co-workers and I at our Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in October 2012!

During one of the days of my new-staff training, I learned about the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation program. Here’s what happens: ACS is granted a certain number of spots in marathons and half marathons across the country (as are many other nonprofit organizations). In return for a spot in the race (many races sell out in minutes), participants fundraise for ACS. It sounds simple, but there is so much emotion behind it. People don’t just do DetermiNation for no reason. They do it for their mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, friend…or themselves!  Instantly, I became inspired. People have literally changed their lifestyles to run one race in honor or in memory of loved ones who have had this disease. Think about it. The amount of time, effort, sweat, tears and everything that goes into training for a marathon…is a minuscule fraction of the pain that our loved ones went through while fighting cancer. People run to fight back and raise money and prove that cancer can’t hold us down.

Ever since that day, I have wanted to join. WIth every fiber of my body, I hate cancer. Running helped me cope with the loss of my mom, and it only makes sense to me that I would run a marathon in her honor while fighting back against cancer.

Without trying to “sell” the American Cancer Society to you, here are some things for you to know. I will be fundraising, and I’m excited about it! Although fundraising isn’t the only reason I have decided to do this, it is an important part. Many of you will ask, “where does the money go?” Let me give you a REASon to not only encourage me, but also help me in my fundraising efforts.

R- Research- ACS is the second-largest cancer research funding organization in America, only behind the US government. We have funded more than 40 scientists who have won a Nobel prize for their findings in cancer research. We have also had a hand in every major cancer advancement in the past 100 years, including findings that are obvious facts to mankind today (smoking leads to cancer was not always a known fact)!

E- Education- Ok, so we can fund cancer researchers…but how do we PREVENT cancer from happening to begin with? Education. ACS works to bring cancer education to schools  and communities alike. If you start teaching kids young about how to prevent cancer (don’t start smoking, take care of your skin in the sun, eat right and exercise), then maybe our world really will have less cancer in the future. We aren’t just teaching kids, we’re teaching adults too.

A- Advocacy- Your tax dollars are going a lot of places…do you know everywhere they’re going? Thanks to ACS and ACS CAN, we give people a voice to make sure that some of their tax dollars are being spent to help prevent cancer and help families who have cancer patients. Did you know that right now in Illinois, women can get their annual pap smear and mammogram for free? That’s huge! Think about just how many lives that is saving. You can also thank ACS in part for helping to create smoke-free states.

S- Services…Patient Services to be exact. This is something that maybe my family didn’t know a lot about when my mom was going through cancer. Anyone going through cancer can get FREE patient services at their local ACS office. This includes a free wig (my mom paid for hers), free “Look Good…Feel Better” sessions (teaching ladies who have lost their hair and gone through treatment how to reapply makeup, fix their wigs, and tie head wraps), case management, support groups, FREE rides to and from treatment with Road to Recovery, and so much more. This is my favorite part of ACS. We are literally in communities trying to make patients’ lives easier if at all possible. I’m sure I will post more about all of these wonderful services in the future.

I’m hoping that this ends up being the sappiest post I write during the next 22 weeks. I promise they won’t all be this way! I hope that you will stick with me as I document my running. I have already created a schedule and finally started this week! I’m excited to share everything with you!


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