Looking back on my life I began to think about how God prepared me for my battle with cancer. Why did I feel this desire to train…. first for a bicycle challenge and then for a half marathon? I grew up a popular girl - not an athlete. I was the one who cheered on athletes.
On Memorial Day, 2006, my brother was diagnosed with terminal melanoma. I made several trips to see him in Texas but always came away frustrated, feeling there was nothing I could do for him. In August 2006 I was brainstorming with some friends and they suggested we sign up for the 40-mile Lance Armstrong Livestrong challenge, which was to take place in the hills of Austin, Texas in October 2006. We were determined to raise money and awareness for this terrible disease that had afflicted my brother. My friends were extreme athletes. I, on the other hand, was not athletic at all. I didn't even own a bike.
The bike is a story in itself. I ordered a bike online thinking that all bikes are created equal (which affirms the fact that I knew nothing about cycling). When it was time to purchase my ticket to Austin, I found I needed a ticket and a carrier for my bike. This would have doubled the price of my ticket and I didn't want that. I ended up borrowing a bike from a bike store in my hometown - and that is when I really learned about carbon fiber bikes. I had been training on an extremely heavy bike, but this bike I could lift with two fingers. It made me lighter, which in turn made me faster. Was this a God thing? Was I to train on a bike that would make me stronger, so that when it came time for the race I could go further and faster?
I trained and trained (no less than an Olympic athlete might train). I was obsessed with my training. I even joined a cycling group called the Seminole Cyclists. When I felt I couldn't go further, there was a need in me that pushed me onward. I had a picture of my brother on the handle bars of my bike, and I pedaled harder and went further. We created a fundraising website and began raising money while I continued to train. In October 2006, my friends and I competed in the challenge and I came in 8th in my age division. I had dinner with Lance Armstrong in recognition of our effort to raise money and my effort in the ride.
The saddest part is that my brother died in November, just 6 months after his diagnosis.
After that, it was put in my heart the desire to run a half marathon (again, me never having been an athlete). My first thought was "How in the world am I to run a half marathon?" So, I read a lot, and it taught me to take a look at how far I had come and how I should celebrate the victories I had attained. That is just what I did in my cancer journey.
Friends would often ask me why I was doing all this running and biking. I had no answer for them. I was only thinking it was a way to hang out with my friends (the athletes). Now, looking back, I know that God was preparing me for the biggest race of my life: my cancer journey! I was able to see what needed to be done, the same way I had prepared for a race and I could see the finish line, little by little.
Sometimes you just need to look at how God has prepared you for the trial that you are facing. Then, as the scripture says, you need to use that strength and power He has given you so that you are filled with great endurance and patience.
Colossians 1:11: Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.