Fight like Mike Friday
In two weeks I am running( I should say jogging and walking , haha) the Peachtree Rd race with dear friends and family to help bring awareness to Be The Match.
An organization that gave Mike a few more years, months, days, hours, minutes, and breaths than he would have been given otherwise.
“ Each day counts” it sounds cliche . But it wasn’t until I walked beside and witnessed someone bravely make each day count after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, that I understood the depth of why each day and moment matters.
Maybe doctors knew that his diagnosis would not warrant him a long life of 80 plus years. Maybe we knew that deep down too.
But in hindsight , I know that if Mike had waited until the rainbow came in view, until he made it to the finish line, until he rang the final chemo bell . If he had waited until the end of his fight to start living, he would have missed out on four years of the best memories we made together. He would have missed out on his life right in front of him.
He did not wait until he was cured to live.
He lived each day .
He lived in the present moment.
As painful as it might have been.
I often think about the hours I spent worrying about what would happen to us after he was gone.
How I would live without him.
I worried as we sat on those turquoise cushioned chairs, in each waiting room,
about each scan, each lab report, what each blood draw would reveal.
And as I sat anxiously waiting for results about the future.
He had finished the rubix cube, another sudoku puzzle, or his best past time -
he had sold his next car to the next nurse.
He left me with his gift .
This gift to live in the moment I am in.
Not worrying about the future.
As I was running at the beach last week, I though about what to write to you in efforts to raise money and awareness to Be the Match.
It was an early morning and the clouds were a mix of dark and stormy, with blue sky and sunshine peeking through . I thought about the fact it might storm but I decided to take the chance and risk getting wet and running through the storm because the storm of Graham I had escaped at the condo was a little scarier :)
As I ran , I noticed a rainbow forming over the ocean. And so I decided to keep chasing it. Although I could only see half of it because of the condos blocking the view , I could tell it was a full rainbow so I kept running to get passed the condos .
The humidity was high, I was pouring sweat , my body hurt , I felt like I was in a desert and dying of thirst , and I was so sluggish from all the road trip snacks I partaken in with the kids the day before. I also knew the further I went I would then have the same distance going back. I was begging Mike for a little mercy:)
But something kept telling me to chase the rainbow , and in the moment, I remembered the quote, “ Stay in the Mile you are in, no matter how hard it is “ .
I kept thinking about Mike.
How his pain and suffering never did end.
It never did.
From the months of back pain leading up to his diagnosis, to the treatment, mouth sores , nausea, weakness, itching, GVHD of his eyes, skin, gut , and lungs, to infections, stiffness, skin tightness. To his breath literally being taken from his lungs, making it even difficult to take a breath with the oxygen tank on the highest settings.
So yes, my body hurt, and I couldn’t take a deep breath from the humidity.
But I knew my pain would end.
Mike’s never did.
And so I kept pushing myself , to feel the pain he must have felt , with no end in sight.
When I got to the end of the road, passed the tall condos , I could see the rainbow in full view.
It spanned from way out over the ocean all the way to the right over near a hotel.
It was perfect and it gave me chills.
When I looked up at the hotel , I realized , where I was.
Mike and I had stayed at this hotel almost 1 year after his transplant.
And I had not been back since.
We flew in for just one day to go to a friends wedding.
This friend had also had a transplant and had guided Mike through his.
Before the wedding Mike and I spent the morning walking on the beach, right there. We ate lunch and had a couple ( few:) drinks at the bar. Our favorite pre-kid outing.
As you know we never really talked about him dying.
But that day, whether it was the drinks that gave me the courage or not , I remember asking him that if he ever knew he was going to die, would he just let me know a sign that he would be with me .
And he assured me he would.
And that was that .
We never did fully finish that conversation while he was here on earth.
But the rainbow , it gave me clarity, his sign for me .
Each and every day , he is guiding me still.
He is still guiding me moment by moment.
I must stay in the very mile I am in.
Good or bad, they are all a part of life and worth living for.
I didn’t know I would end up there that morning , standing outside that hotel,
witnessing the most beautiful rainbow.
His work is not done here yet, he is still here with us.
And he reminds me each day that my work is not done here yet either.
It may take years to see the rainbow.
The rainbow will always come , after the storm, no matter how long it takes.
He reminds me each and every day to stay right where I am .
To focus on the painful step right in front of me.
He sat through countless lumbar pokes , so many that scar tissue grew in the spot above his cute butt. He suffered through years showering(his favorite thing ever) with glad wrap covering his chest to cover his pic lines, dozens of radiation treatments , and countless injections of chemo. He was pretty much brought as close to death as possible in preparation for his Bone Marrow transplant. And yet was saved by the blood cells of a complete stranger. Miracle after Miracle . Moment after moment.
With each next trial, he focused on the very one in front of him.
He focused how to survive just the very day.
Maybe the transplant would only give him hours, days , or months.
He did not let it stop him from taking the chance for one more day.
And each day counted .
As I listen to our kids countless memories of him they spout out in a day,
I know why we must live for the moment.
In the present is where life is.
It is where we are meant to be .
It is where memories are made.
The mile we are in.
Mike’s transplant and his angel donor Michael, gave him 3 and a half extra years of moments we would have never had with him .
And if you think that isn’t very long or not enough time, well then talk to Graham.
He was 5 months old when Mike was diagnosed. And if we went by the text book as Dr Kota has since shared with me, Mike would have survived 6 months. Making Graham just passed a year old.
But Dr. Kota believed in Mike . Be the Match, and Michael, believed in Mike .
And we were given enough time for Graham to have memories.
These gifts they gave me , these memories I have are something that money, or tangible things will never be enough to repay them with.
However I pray that I can keep trying each day to do better. To live selflessly . To live in a way that helps others the way they have helped me.
They inspire me to be better. To do better.
So I run for them.
I run for Emily, Ramon , Jason, Penny, BA, Phil, Jay, Alan. I run for all those who fought like hell and would give anything to be able to run again. I run for those who fight each day still. I run for those who will unfortunately enter this world of cancer tomorrow or the next day. I run especially for them , with the hope that maybe my efforts will make their treatment easier. Will make their days and moments together longer.
I run for Be the Match
I run for Michael.
I run for Dr. Kota.
I run for all the doctors and nurses .
I run for Jake , Celia and Graham. To continue to teach them what their daddy taught me
I will run the mile I am in, mostly for Mike.
Who I love and miss more with each passing day.
I run for him because he taught me how to never give up.
And how to live in the present .
Who taught me that,
Each day counts.
Each moment counts .
Each breath counts.
Stay in the mile you are in , just the one right infant of you , friends.
Make this mile count, if not for you, for Mike.
I promise , the rainbow is coming.
Fight Like Mike… Trust God with the Rest.
"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world."
Be The Match gives people like Mike and our family, hope in what feels like a hopeless fight. We were given the gift of meeting Michael which will be a day we will cherish forever. He was selfless and gave us a gift we can never repay him for. Giving the gift of life may not feel like a big deal or seem like it overwhelms the world. But speaking from experience it overwhelmed our own world. It made us believe in the good in people , the good in the world. It gave us hope in what felt like a hopeless fight.
And if more and more people would join the registry, wow...the impact could be overwhelming in the best possible way.
If you can , join the registry! Thank you in advanced for any donation! I am always grateful.
Below is the link below to make a donation :)