***This campaign has now ended. Thank you for all of your suport***
A comeback: to return to one’s former standing; to achieve success after a failure; to overcome a deficit. Which one of these defines my motives? All three.
At the end of this month, I will be running a half marathon that I’ve deemed, “The Comeback Run” mainly for my Dad who, despite his struggle, never got to experience his comeback from leukemia. This run is about so much more than the loss of a loved one to cancer though. It is also about my personal journey as one left in the wake of the wave of loss, and all I’ve overcome over the past three years. It’s my own comeback story of how the loss of my Dad, a wedding and a broken ankle (I’ll get to that) evolved into wanting to do something more.
My Dad, Armand, what can I say? He was one of a kind. While impossible to condense my 30 years of memories of him into a few mere sentences, I’ll give it a try. Armand valued his work ethic above all other things, except maybe his red Corvette. If I had to describe my Dad in one sentence I’d say, “work hard and then...work harder.” He never complained about a hard day's work; in fact, he had an aversion to being idle. He loved fishing but having the boat in the water before sunrise was an absolute must. He wasn’t an overly expressive person but you certainly knew if he was pleased or displeased with your behavior. As kids when we looked to him for recognition after achieving something, his response was always the same, “I would expect no different.” It was as if he had known all along what we were capable of. He will forever live in my memory casting off in his boat before sunrise listening to Chicago's Greatest Hits and spending a weekend driving his Corvette up the New Hampshire coast.
Growing up I was affectionately known as a “tomboy.” A classic Daddy’s girl. I played baseball with the boys, played catch in the backyard with my dad and preferred work boots to ballet shoes. But that was what I loved. It was - and still is - who I am. Armand didn’t care what I did but how I did it. He held everyone around him to the highest possible standards, no exceptions. That really shaped who I am today and how I approach everything in life.
Fast forward to June 2017. While out hiking, I fell and suffered a trimalleolar fracture - fancy words for a severely broken ankle. Mountainside, I had my fiance call to tell my Dad about my injury. His initial response was, of course, to scold me for not wearing the hiking boots he had bought me. His second response was that he would take a cab from the hospital in Boston where HE was undergoing treatment to meet me in the emergency room. He was preparing for a bone marrow transplant but all he wanted was to risk himself to be there for me. While we convinced him otherwise, it was the perfect example of who he was as a person.
Not long after - and far too soon - my dad lost his courageous battle.
Just weeks after his passing, my brother walked me down the aisle on Jenness Beach. This wasn’t part of my original wedding plan but that all went out the window so I could marry my husband in the place my father loved the most. While I knew my Dad wouldn’t physically be there, I had expected he would enjoy my wedding from afar while recovering from his transplant. I had never prepared myself for losing him before this day. But as I walked down that sandy aisle, I held him with me in a locket pinned to this inside of my dress with a picture of the two of us.
I have since recovered from reconstructive surgery on my ankle and my husband and I are happily married with a wonderful little family. But I still miss my Dad every single day. And that’s why, now that I’m strong and able - even though I hate running - I am going to run this half marathon for him.
I hope you will consider being part of my comeback story by supporting me and donating to this cause. Cancer is devastating but, with your help, others can overcome the odds and live longer, healthier lives. Here’s to the future of cancer research, to the hope that someday the number of comeback stories outweighs the losses.