A story on Perspective, Gratitude and Motivation
Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. Life is all about perspective and gratitude; turning what you have into enough.
This time last year, my best friend was bedridden, recovering from her second radical excision to remove a rare soft tissue tumor called liposarcoma. A cancer so rare, MD Anderson couldn’t classify exactly what type of sarcoma it was, as it was an unusual case they had never encountered before. Just three weeks prior to the surgery, she had finished five weeks of radiation down in Houston, which left her with intense radiation burns. Burns that were so severe, she couldn’t walk without assistance for 2 weeks. As I watched my best friend suffer so greatly, I was in complete awe at how she put a positive twist on a daunting situation. She was at her lowest of lows and at a crossroads; she had the choice to wallow in pity of all that cancer had taken from her… to let negativity take hold or to look through a different lens and acknowledge all that cancer had given her.
I am beyond proud to say that she chose to leave negativity in the dust! Instead she chose to lace up her shoes and move forward with the gift of a new perspective on life. I saw her emotional strength and knew she could be just as strong physically. I knew she needed to find a way to regain that physical strength and also a way to keep this new-found perspective, so I challenged her to start running with me. We started slow, running light pole to light pole, mile to mile. It didn’t come easy and it didn’t come quick. But usually the best things in life don’t come easy. Between the two of us, with six young kids we had to find the time and remain dedicated to running. Motivation came easily, as we thought about the numerous patients whom we encountered at the MD Anderson Sarcoma center who were wheelchair bound from amputations due to this horrible cancer.
So we continued to run every other day, sometimes before the sun would rise and sometimes after it had set….sometimes with strollers and sometimes in the rain. We were committed. We were running with a purpose. This is why we chose the Route 66 ½ Marathon as our final goal. The race marks the 1 year anniversary of being declared “cancer free” and choosing a life of gratitude. Turning what we have, into enough. Less time spent worrying about future cancer scans and more time spent being thankful for the blessings we have in the NOW!
With only four weeks left before the race, I was sidelined with an unfortunate leg injury that left my leg in a cast and unable to run. I was disappointed but yet determined to find a way to cross that finish line with her. That is when I reached out to a high school friend from Oologah, Tadd Parrett. A man who has been wheelchair bound since birth. A man so inspiring, he won last year’s Route 66 Marathon Kjell Tovander Award. A man who dedicates his life to improving others physical strength. Tadd found a used hand-cycle chair to buy, as there aren’t any places to rent one here in Tulsa. We are hoping to raise enough money to buy the handcycle to complete our journey and then gift it back to Tadd who can use it as a resource to help others in our community that could benefit from it to attain goals, otherwise unattainable.
Tadd has a personal training business and has helped numerous people achieve their fitness goals. He has offered to train me to complete this race in the handcycle chair, to cross the finish line with my best friend. This is the least I can do to give back to her because in the end she has gifted me my own new perspective on life. She taught me that no matter what life throws at me, I am capable of finding the good, finding the silver lining, finding the strength to be thankful for what I do have. I am a better person, a better friend, living a life with loads of motivation and unending gratitude all because my pal fought cancer with a smile and a positive perspective! I am forever thankful to call Catharine Strle my running partner and my best friend!
Was crossing the finish line in a chair, instead of on my own two feet how I had envisioned the ending to this journey? NO. But I’ll still be by her side and as Dr. Dyer said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
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