A Year In Pics: Day 7

Background on me:  I have always struggled with weight.  Like a rollercoaster ups and downs.  Struggle through teenage years, have a baby, take 50-60 pounds off, have another baby and put it all back on plus some….until finally I had the Lap-Band surgery.  It was a decision that took two years consideration.  It’s not a magic solution…I still can (and have) gained weight when I get lazy with eating and exercising.  I truly do love to jog/run.  I love racing myself.  I have done quite a few 5k runs and a 10k this past summer.  I let my running slip over the holidays but with an impromptu vacation, my sister’s wedding and the 5k season upon us I have decided to get serious with training again.  Rips me up that I did a 10k in August and now I am back to struggling for 2 miles. 

Here is a pic of me after tonight’s run.  I hang this on the wall in the room I run to remind me of what motivates me. 

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The first time I heard the name Maddie Musto, it was on Facebook.  Her family was originally from this area and she still had quite a few relatives located here.  The details were few and far in between as the family members were not releasing much information on Facebook but even at that time you could tell it wasn’t good.  She was five and she had the “C” word.

Between having a father battling “C” and having my own little Madi, I felt drawn to learning more about this little angel.  I followed her story, reading updates, looked online at family pictures they had done.  Tears streamed down my face as I looked at this blond haired beautiful little girl who just wanted to run and play and she was battling that nasty, rotten “C” word.  (To learn more about Maddie’s story please click here, grab the tissues first because I became a wreck just seeing her pictures)

As you can tell I have a lot of bitterness towards that disease.  A lot of anger.  When I heard of Maddie, I not only had my Dad on my mind but a friend my age with two young girls, a cousin and a young man in the community all fighting fiercely for their lives.  Why so much “C”?  I can’t even give it the respect of letting the word be on this same page of so many lives it has taken. 

It was a matter of five days after hearing Maddie’s name when the devastating news came of her death, five days from her family learning she had “C”.  I was at work and I sobbed.  I can’t even fathom the pain her family felt if a total stranger couldn’t keep it together.  If somehow they get to hear of this, I just want them to know that complete strangers have kept their daughter’s story in their hearts and have been inspired by her life.  Tears fall now for it still hurts to think of the loss of such an innocent life. 

Within only a few days after Maddie’s passing, my friend discovered her “C” was in her brain and had a bleed on her brain.  She was in Syracuse for around a month before she passed.  On the same day she passed so did my cousin and there was a tragic car accident that took the life of a local woman that affected so many people I knew.  It took me a long time to get beyond the devastation I felt from so many lost lives, senseless deaths all in such a short period of time. 

My father continues his battle, as does the young man from our community. 

I participated in a 5k in honor of Maddie Musto.  It was probably the best 5k I have ever done.  In the beginning we all got balloons, they spoke of Maddie, played music and we released the balloons to float up to Maddie.  The 5k took us through the zoo, so appropriate for a run in honor of a child.  It was incredibly moving.  I thought of her the entire run.

When I am on the treadmill sometimes I envision that I am running from all the pain this disease causes and maybe, just maybe I can outrun it.  Escape it.  Running towards a cure.

So many of us have fully functioning bodies that we don’t take full advantage of and those I have mentioned had bodies that failed them.  I felt it was a huge disrespect to those unable, to not take advantage of my body that is well capable of.  I do it for them.  I cried and prayed to my friend Nicki to help me conquer the 10k as I drove there and thought of her the entire way.  I thought back to when I did the Turkey Trot, the November before she passed how she got up and posted on my Facebook that she knew I would do awesome.  She was battling that retched disease and yet she was thinking of me and cheering me on.  That was Nicki.  The hottest day of the year, someone who has battled obesity her entire life and I finished that 10k with a time I could be proud of.  I wasn’t alone…

So make a goal and reach it.  Make plans and work toward them.  Life each moment of your life like it’s the last.  Embrace every memory and celebrate every minute.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  These are things that Maddie’s story and Nicki taught me.  When you leave this Earth, leave a light blazing so bright that it never goes out. 

www.maddiesmark.org

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