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I Run for Life


Its been years since they told (me) about it; the darkness (my) body possessed. And the scars are still there in the mirror, every day as (I) get myself dressed . . .

February 15, 2005 -- just days out from my surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my left breast. My dearest friend, Gretchen, called me the next morning: "Did you see her? She was amazing!"

My head still swimming with anesthesia, underarm still numb, I asked, "Who? What are you talking about?"

"Melissa Ethridge! She performed Piece of my Heart last night on the Grammys . . . completely bald!"


The world literally rocked at this brave and electrifying performance, one that gave courage not only to me, but to many of the 2.4 million other women who are diagnosed with breast cancer annually (Worldwide in 2020, an increase of 20% from 2008 figures).

I bought her Greatest Hits album a couple months later, and listened to it during my treatments. It included two songs Ethridge wrote to chronicle her own cancer experience -- This is Not Goodbye, and She Runs for Life.

It would be a long time before I could sing along with either song without dissolving into sobs. Now its part of my playlist for running my modest 3-milers along seashores of the Sunshine Coast.


I run for hope, I run to feel, I run for the truth, for all that is real. I run for your mother, your sister, your wife . . . I run for life!

It has been 18 years and about that many pounds around my midsection since that terrible winter. I still treasure the memories of running (and walking) in Alaska with my team of Survivors in Juneau. I even wrote a book about it, figuring it would have become obsolete by now.

Not so. In 2020, there were 4 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. alone. Shit, man.


So, slow and steady, I persevere. Sometimes its a slog, and I get ironic looks as folks see me puffing along. But that's ok. I've alive and, to quote my friends, Janice and Melissa, I know I got it if it makes me feel good. Damn right.


Yours on the path,

Joyce








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