Early morning is always peaceful to me in North Idaho, and no one was out Sunday morning on my way driving to the Coeur d’Alene Race for the Cure. I had my car loaded with items for our booth, and I don’t know what happened or what started it, but a wave of emotion poured over me and I started to tear up.
I guess it just hit me how so many of our lives have been touched by cancer. We’ve lost loved ones to the disease and had to stand alongside our dearest family and friends as they have battled for their life. I guess my heart was overwhelmed by the thought of it and I cried, because I wanted it to go away and never again knock on anyone else’s door. I just didn’t want anyone to have to suffer anymore.
I never knew 31 years ago when I became a physical therapist that I would care for oncology patients as part of my everyday professional life. I had no idea these patients would creep in my heart and make a home in the lives of my staff and mine forever. I didn’t know that I would learn so much from them as I cared for them and their families as they walked into the darkness and then back out into the light.
This past Sunday at the Race for the Cure, I saw so many people and their families that I knew and that I had cared for this past 23 years in North Idaho. I felt honored to know them and to be allowed to help them in their personal journey. I felt a sense of awe as the Survivors and the Fighters took their seat for their picture in front of all of us. These people are incredible to me. They have chosen to live, to participate and to thrive. They were there reminding me that it doesn’t matter what life throws at us, we have a choice to make. Will we choose life?
This is what the human spirit is all about I think. It is about the digging down deep when the going gets rough and making hard choices. A person’s real character shows up with cancer. At the Race, I had the pleasure of seeing a couple that are very dear to everyone in my office and we listened as they talked of their journey. We stood in amazement at their commitment to one another and their choice to live, one fighting for her life and the other as her faithful caregiver. It wasn’t perfect, and maybe it wasn’t what they thought It was going to be when they first fell in love, but they are making it despite this glitch in their plan.
So I guess all the tears were because of all of these incredible people I know, and because their stories move my heart to believe their is something greater going on during race day in Coeur d’Alene than people running and walking. That somehow to have all these people in one place together is a feat in itself and then to know they have struggled, defied death and lived to tell about it must mean that we would all be on hallowed ground on race day. And I was right, we were on hallowed ground, you could feel it and it was definitely time to celebrate. And celebrate we did. We celebrated life and all its abundance, and we won.
Thanks Race for the Cure for another year to celebrate with our community the race for life.
Sheree DIBiase, PT, is the owner of Lake City Physical Therapy and she and her incredible staff can be reached in her Coeur d’Alene office at (208) 667-1988 and in her Spokane Valley office at (509) 891-2623. Her office specializes in breast cancer care and in all post-oncology rehabilitation care.