Racing for the Cure (& April): I Hate Breast Cancer

Komen Race for the Cure - Still SmilingI do this to myself every single time I sign up to run in a race. I wake up on race morning, trying to come up with a reason not to go. Is it raining? No, it’s a beautiful day. How are my knees feeling? I wouldn’t want an injury! They are fine. Ugh. I guess I’ll go do it then. I have been preparing for it, right?

Well, yesterday was no different. When I woke yesterday morning, I really didn’t feel like running. Driving down to Bangor. Dealing with the crowds of people. But that was just me and my moody pre-coffee self. Once I was fully caffeinated, I was good to go.

The two hour drive gave me time to really think about April. I knew that she had just gone through her second round of chemo and probably wasn’t feeling good AT ALL.

What did I have to grumble about?

So yesterday I went and I ran for April in the Komen Race for the Cure in Bangor. I ran for April because she can’t right now.

April has always been so athletic. So healthy. She ran in a half marathon in the spring and after that struggled to run at all. That’s when she knew that something wasn’t right. She was officially diagnosed with breast cancer in June. And right now she is fighting to regain her health.

Me? I am pretty far from being athletic. I’m more artistic and creative than fit and coordinated. This fall marks 2 years since I decided to start running. I’m not going to lie; it’s a struggle for me to run. Between working full time, being a mother, and juggling crazy work schedules with my husband, I do good to run twice per week. I average 9-10 minutes per mile. The best I think I’ve ever done is 8.5 minutes. But when I started I was slugging along at a 15 minute pace, so it does get better. I like to blame my time on my short legs. The curse of being 5’2”.

I don’t know what is going through April’s mind right now as she has had her world turned upside down, but yesterday my mind was on her. We were actually texting each other before and after the race. She was with me the whole time.

She was with me as we were lining up and waiting for the race to officially start. I always get butterflies in my stomach and start to panic a little. I thought of how she must have felt as she waited to hear about test results.

Then as the road never seemed to stop going uphill, I thought of how she must be feeling at this stage in her fight, like the hills and tough times just won’t stop coming.

I thought of her when I hit the halfway mark. She is half-way through chemo!

I thought of her the last half of the race when I hit my stride and it was downhill and easier. I could breathe and I could talk to the runners around me.  And I prayed that the second half of her fight would be this way.

And I thought of those around me during the race and the many others who suffer from breast cancer. Even the fittest and healthiest people can’t run from this disease.

Komen Race for the Cure - Finish

Hand in hand, survivor and supporter.

As I turned the final curve towards the finish line I lost it. In front of me were two women: a mother (survivor) and her daughter. They were holding hands as they ran the last stretch together. A testament that she did not fight this fight alone. And I am so glad that April is not fighting alone.

Even though April is in Florida and I am in Maine, the symbolic nature of running alongside survivors and people that have in some way been touched by this disease was so comforting to me. I can totally see her doing this type of event when she is well.

So yesterday I ran for April.

I ran for Grammy, Marsha, Angela, Laura, Misty, and Beth.

I race for...

I ran because I didn’t feel like it. Because even when I think I am at my lowest, I know my friends have had much worse days than me and have still managed to keep their chin up. Each of the women I mentioned above has in some way taken this disease and found a way to be a light of encouragement for others.

They have all certainly inspired me.



I want to thank my friends and family who donated to our team for the Komen Race for the Cure. I never fully expected to meet, let alone exceed my small goal. I probably would have rolled back over in bed yesterday morning had I just been going at it alone. And even though I was technically running alone, I felt as though I was carried by each of you, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Jennifer Collins

About Jennifer Collins

Jennifer is a mom with a day job and she likes to write about her victories and messes along the way. She is living an adventurous life as a Georgia transplant learning to thrive in Maine, with a strong Southern accent that screams that she is "from away" and a new-found love for lobster rolls and timely snow plows. Jennifer's writing has been featured on BlogHer, iVillage Australia, Daddy Doin' Work, and Mamapedia.