July 12, 2013: Did You Win?

A few years ago, I ran the Tiveria Marathon and finished with a great time. I was very proud and happy with my accomplishment. When I got home, I started telling a friend about it.

“I had a great run in Tiveria.”

“Really! That’s Terrific! Did you win?”

“Eh, no.”

“Well what place did you come in?”

“About 215th”

“Oh. Is that good?”

Of course, I don’t blame him. He was thinking that I was in a competition and said I did really well. Why would he not expect that I might have won? How could he know that despite any dreams to the contrary I may have, there is no way that I or anyone else reading this blog is going to win a major marathon. Elite athletes from all over the world come to these things. Not only do they train full time, they have natural gifts that only a tiny fraction of the world’s population have.

It is not that I wouldn’t enjoy winning a big race, but let’s face it, it is not physically possible. And that’s fine with me because setting a personal best is my real goal when I run.

This week we got what I consider great news. The marker that measures the activity of the cancer was “very good.” Technically, it was “3.6.”

And that means as much to most people as saying that you ran a marathon in 3 hours and 14 minutes.

Absolutely nothing.

So it is only natural to get questions like:

“Does this mean that Stella is cured?”

“Does this mean that you won’t have to do any more chemo?”

Unfortunately, the answers are both no. We are told that there is as much chance of Stella being completely cured as me winning a marathon.

BUT — that fact does not mean I can’t be ecstatic about the news. Because it does mean that the cancer is not spreading and that we can take a month break from the chemo. And perhaps we will have future breaks in treatment to be able to do the things we want to do. And that’s the real, achievable goal.

You have to have realistic goals. Otherwise whatever you are doing, you are sure to fall short and that can be really depressing.

If I thought that the only reason to run a marathon is to win, I would never run. It’s like giving up on cancer treatment because you know it can’t lead to a complete cure.

Sometimes you can set a personal best just by getting out of bed.

And if THAT is our goal, then we will keep on achieving it for a very long time.


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