Wednesday, August 5, 2009

In sickness and in health

Last week I interviewed two different women (for projects other than Run Like a Girl) who were fighting diseases--one a form of stomach cancer, for which she has already undergone four surgeries; and the other Type 1 diabetes, which has already necessitated a kidney transplant and a pancreas transplant may happen as soon as February 2010. I was struck by their ferocious strength and refusal to be treated, or even to think of themselves, as victims. Of course there are bad days, but in the main they both expressed how critical it was to greet each day for what it was going to bring.

They are both athletes, but they have had to change their definitions of the athletics they pursue, taking joy out of getting out on the tennis court or on the bike, rather than "winning." Both told me how important the athletics they pursued were to helping them understand how to break down challenges into achievable bite size pieces--something critical to fighting a serious disease, which risks overwhelming the psyche if it can't be parsed. If you think about it though, really all of life is like that. If we let it, it can seem insurmountable. Or we can break it down.

As these two women reminded me, athletics is a place that teaches us how to take things one day at a time. I might be training for a marathon (or a triathlon, or ski race, or some other goal), but what matters today is getting out there today. Tomorrow will come soon enough on its own.