Who Will Win the Race of Cancer?


I’m in the race of cancer, hoping that a cure will pass the finish line before I do.

I was a runner at the time of my cancer diagnosis in late 2019. In fact, when I received my diagnosis, I was planning to run a race the following weekend.

On Monday, my usual seven-mile run felt a bit sluggish. This prompted a quick visit with my primary doctor, just to check my lungs to make sure nothing was brewing before the weekend race. My doctor took it a step further and took an X-ray, which led to other tests.

By Thursday, I had the diagnosis.

I immediately chose to treat my cancer at Yale’s Smilow Cancer Center in New Haven, Connecticut. Luckily, oncologists there know the importance of biomarker testing. When the tests came back weeks later, I was told I had “won the cancer lottery” because I had a “mutant gene” that was driving my cancer. The planned radiation and chemo appointments were cancelled. Instead, my treatment would be gene-targeted therapy. And with that, I entered a whole new race.

I think of my cancer journey as a road race where all the other participants have cancer like me. We each wear racing bibs with our names on them. Some have been running slow and steady, fueled by the same treatment for a long stretch. Some run fast, going through different treatments just to stay in the race. We all run with a good degree of laughter and courage, even though we don't know how long the race is, or how it will end. We do know that we want to cross the finish line second. Because we want the runner named The Cure to win.

Right now, The Cure runs among us, but his bib still says “Trial.” There are many of them throughout the race, monitored and coached on the sidelines by those heroes called researchers. Some runners join the Trials, hoping to help them win as The Cure. Some of the Trials look like sure winners, but no one really knows for sure. The Cure might now be at theback of the pack, or he might be close to the finish line. Our faith tells us he is at least in the race.

In the meantime, we runners do all we can to stay in the race. And we do all we can to make the most of the journeys. We accept much help from our medical teams and families, our ever-present sideline cheerleaders. We celebrate the victories of our fellow runners. We mourn those who crossed the finish line before us, and before The Cure. But we cherish what they leave behind, and we proudly carry them with us as we continue onward.

There are twists and turns in this race for life, but one thing is certain: No one runs alone.

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