With attending a conference in Texas, moving apartments, being sick, and needing to write a 14-page research paper in the next week, things have been a little hectic over here. There’s so much I want to blog about and catch up on, but things are going to have to wait… until I at least get this paper done! BUT, I had to take a minute to write about the race I timed over the weekend…
After taking Wednesday off to move, and half of Thursday plus all of Friday because I was sick, waking up early to time a race was not something I was looking forward to on Saturday. I had done my usual research the night before, looking at the previous year’s stats to see what kind of races would be taking place, how big the race was, and what time I would theoretically be done. However, I completely missed WHAT the race was. Miles for Hope hosts runs, walks, and bicycle races to raise money for brain tumor research. According to their website:
The mission of Miles for Hope is to raise awareness and funding of
cutting edge brain tumor research as well as clinical trials and to
provide travel assistance to qualified patients. Through our work, we intend
on finding not only treatments that provide a better quality of life for
those suffering with a brain tumor, but to find a cure.
This race turned into quite an emotional morning for me.
The night I called my grandparents (Granny and Poppies) to tell them I had accepted admission to a university on the other side of the country was one of the hardest phone calls I’ve ever had to make. I remember sobbing on the phone as I told them. The final decision had been between Brandeis in Waltham, Massachusetts and UCLA, where my mom and grandfather had both gone. While I was thrilled to set out on this adventure to a place where I knew absolutely no one, I was devastated to be leaving my grandparents behind.
Not too long after I arrived in Waltham and began to settle into life as a college freshman, my grandfather began to show signs of a serious health problem: he started forgetting how to write and how to speak. When I flew home for Thanksgiving break, we spent the majority of the time in the hospital, where Poppies was diagnosed with a brain tumor, given approximately six months to live, and began treatment.
My freshman year is a blur. Between worrying about my Poppies and having undiagnosed mono for the entire first semester (thanks Brandeis health services!), I wasn’t myself. My last day on campus was May 11 – my birthday – and the next day I flew home for the summer. My grandfather was in the hospital again. After arriving back in Los Angeles, my mom took me to the hospital where Poppies was able to say a short “Hi” to me – what would be one of his very last words. The next morning, he was transported back to my grandparents’ home and set up with hospice care. He passed away that afternoon.
After hearing the stories of one young woman currently battling a brain tumor and another woman who has successfully survived hers, I introduced myself to the director of the organization, Debbie. I explained to her that I had not realized what kind of event I was scheduled to work, quickly told her about my own family’s experience, and thanked her for what she’s doing. She gave me a big hug.
I held back tears for most of the morning, watching amazing teams of runners and walkers participating in honor and in memory of loved ones. At the end of the day, as I walked back to my car to head home, I passed by Debbie again and thanked her once more for her work. Turned out, her cab that was supposed to take her to the airport was late and she was worried about missing her flight. Obviously, I grabbed her bag and told her I would get her there. We made it to the terminal exactly one hour before her flight.
Runners and walkers were given a “medal” upon completing the 5K course – a small military-style dog tag necklace on a long chain. I was able to get one for myself, and next April when I run (hopefully/fingers crossed) the Boston Marathon, I will add Poppies’ ID tag from his time in the navy to the chain and wear it, next to my heart.