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Finish Lines

I am not an athlete, never have been, never will be. I can play a mean game of table tennis and badminton. Hey, they count!

When I was in school, I did not like phy ed class – at all! Often the phy ed teacher allowed captains to pick their teams. Luckily, I had good friends who chose me despite my inability to spike a volley ball, hit a home run, (OK hit the ball at all) score a goal, jump a hurdle… you get the picture. I observed the few others, who like me, lacked ability, but also lacked friends.

That’s why when I was teaching, I rarely allowed kids to choose teams for anything. I remembered what it was like to lack skills the team needed. I remembered what it felt like to be chosen only because your friends liked you.  

On Saturday when I completed my 10K, crossed the finish line and was handed my medal, I sort of felt like an athlete, or at least what I always imagined it might feel like to be one. 

The morning started out with less than a perfect weather forecast, just like last year. There was an 80% chance of rain and thunderstorms. The air was heavy with humidity and unsettled looking clouds continued to make their presence and unpredictability known.

While we were walking, I kept thinking back to last year. My husband keeps telling me to not look back, but I do. I can’t help myself.  

During the walk I couldn’t stop thinking about last year at this time and where I was at in this cancer gig, which was facing my bilateral and a whole lot more. With the anniversary of that day approaching, I was reminded of how far I have come.

I know there is still a future filled with uncertainty for me. Although uncertainty is always lurking in the background, I am trying to regain my footing. I am trying to regain control in my life.

Participating in this event was part of regaining some of that control. There were 20,000 people participating; some in the 5K, some in the half-marathon, most in the 10K and, not surprisingly, the fewest in the actual marathon itself. Watching all the other participants, I couldn’t help but wonder what motivated them. I couldn’t help but wonder what their untold stories were.

Once again, it felt good to be part of a large crowd. It felt good to blend in. It felt good to be unknown. It felt good to be part of something where no one looked at me and thought of cancer.

The event was quite festive. Many residents came out of their houses on this Saturday morning to watch and cheer on walkers and runners. There were bands playing. There were cheerleaders jumping and shouting. There was a dome filled with spectators and announcers at the finish line. Granted, most of this fanfare was intended for the marathon runners, but they enthusiastically cheered on the more lowly participants as well.

Fortunately, the rain and thunderstorms did not materialize. My husband and I walked the entire 6.2 miles and crossed the finish line. We set no records. Actually, our time was slower than last year. We didn’t care. We only cared about being there. We only cared about finishing.

Life is full of many different kinds of  “finish lines.” I intend to cross many more of them.

Note:  Amazing daughter crossed a finish line of her own, completing the full marathon in less than five hours!

What is one finish line you successfully crossed?

What kind of “athlete” are/were you?





40 thoughts to “Finish Lines”

  1. My finish line was completing all my treatments while trying to maintain the smile on my face. My finish line was staying up and completing a 24 hour Relay For Life. Now too, my goal is to complete something big that has nothing to do with cancer, but something I can say that I have done that I have never done before. Something that no one will even think to say, “Look, that girl had cancer”, because they won’t know.

    1. Cheryl, I am so glad you left a comment on this post. I know what you mean about attempting to maintain that smile throughout treatment and beyond too for that matter. Let me know when you get that goal figured out. I’d love to hear all about it!

  2. Congratulations Nancy on completing the 10K. I was a terrible athlete, also one of those who was the last to be picked for teams, it was humiliating.
    My particular finish line, which I haven’t crossed yet, will come the end of July when I will “officially” be done with my reconstruction process. I am hoping that will help me “mentally” put the cancer behind me, so that I can move forward. (as you are well aware, it’s always there in the background of your mind, the shadow that always seem to follow you, but I am ready for it to be less of a focus in my life)

    1. Garden Lady, Thanks for your supportive comments! I will be so glad for you when you finish reconstruction. Are you satisfied with how things have gone so far? I plan to finish up early fall. I hope. “The shadow that always seems to follow you,” that’s a perfect description for cancer isn’t it? Thanks for sharing today!

  3. Congratulations Nancy! You are such a kind and grounded person. Phys Ed is a nightmare to me — and I come from from a very sports oriented family (my father was a sports reporter!). You’ve got a lot more finish lines ahead of you. 🙂


    1. Katie, Thanks for commenting here. Why was phys ed such a nightmare for you? Just curious. And yes, here’s to more finish lines for all of us!

  4. Heartiest congratulations, Nancy! I love how you look back and forward while staying in the present. I’ve crossed finish lines, literal and figurative – used to be a runner and did a couple of 10Ks. Will never forget the feeling. Also finished lots of documentaries and other media. Thank you so much for taking me back to that. “We can do this!” (as I wrote in a recent blog).
    with love and hope,

    1. Lori, Thank you for taking time to read and comment and also for the congrats. I know you have a lot on your mind. I appreciate your observation about looking back and forward while staying in the present. I never thought about it like that before. And yes, we can do this, Lori! I am off to read your post right now. Good luck with things.

  5. Nancy, congratulations on crossing that finish line. I’m very happy for you. You have a lot to look forward to. I’m not very athletic or coordinated for that matter, and I don’t have anything like your 10K on the horizon, but I figure if I finish 3 miles on the treadmill within a certain time, then I’ve done okay. Also, I’m looking forward to nipple tattoos because only then, will my reconstruction be truly finished. Congrats!

    1. Stacey, Thanks for your support as always, Stacey. I’m finding others are admitting to not being very athletic either. Funny, I felt so alone with that feeling while growing up and of course, I really wasn’t at all! I’d say if you finish 3 miles you are indeed doing OK! Plus, chasing those boys around is great exercise too! Tattooing is about all I have left too. Keep me posted on that finish line.

  6. Well done Nancy and you well deserve that medal! Interesting observation you made about all the untold stories… yes, what is the motivation for all those people and wouldn’t it be interesting to hear them all.
    I ran a 10K last May to celebrate the end of my six surgeries… during the previous three years I’d not done anything that ambitious and it was a real milestone for me. Now, like Garden Lady and Stacey, I’d just like to finish that reconstruction hike I started in 2009!

    1. Sarah, Thanks for commenting. Funny you mention the medal, I kinda liked getting it too! Now I have two, one from last year and this one. You know, I just couldn’t help but wonder about what motivated all those other people; I always think about untold stories I guess. So you ran a 10K too! I merely walked mine, so not nearly as impressive! And I guess there’s a bunch of us ready to finish the long haul of reconstruction. Your long haul has been even longer than mine.

  7. I was also one of those kids who wasn’t good at sports and didn’t like them, plus my mother raised me, still wrapped in swaddling clothes & tried desperately to keep me in the house. To say I was overprotected is an understatement. After I left home, I became a daredevil, an adrenaline junkie. Nothing scared me except cancer.

    Those of us in the sisterhood have crossed many finish lines, but it’s the ones we haven’t crossed that scare us most.

    Congrats on this victory!


    1. Brenda, Thanks for sharing. It surprises me you were not athletic; somehow I imagined just the opposite! I guess you did let loose a bit when you left home! I try not think about those scarier finish lines, but I know what you mean. Thanks for the congrats and I hope you are doing alright.

  8. Nancy, a hearty congratulations to you and your husband for crossing the finish line in a 10K. Many Americans couldn’t say that. And another congrats to your daughter!!

    Like you, I was never an athlete. My preferred sports of choice were non-competitive ones like archery, skiing,and recreational ping-pong and swimming.

    Usually I wasn’t picked last for teams, although sometimes I was. And like you, last month I completed my first 5K event. That was my big finish line. As you say, it is so freeing not to have to be known as a cancer patient.

    Great post, with lots of spunk, too!


    1. Jan, Thanks for the congrats. Actually those non-competitive activities you mention do count as athletic endeavors in my opinion! And you’re right about the freeing aspect of it all. That’s one of the best parts isn’t it?

    1. Marie, Thanks for adding your comments, Marie. It is hard to maintain that routine of exercising, but I’m finding it a bit easier now when it’s nicer outdoors. Just because we know something is important to do, that doesn’t necessarily mean we do it does it? We all know about that, so don’t be too hard on yourself!

  9. I’m the odd duck who actually likes exercise and feels icky without it. After being away from the gym, yoga & tennis for 8 weeks post-reconstruction, I’m thrilled to be back in the swing of things. There are so many things about cancer that we can’t control, and I suspect that’s why I like to exercise: I can control exactly how much I do and how hard I push myself. BIg congrats to you for the 10K. That’s fantastic, and I’m sure you’re very proud of yourself. Yay for you!

    1. Pinkunderbelly, You are so lucky to enjoy exercising, that’s great. I am finding I am enjoying my walks more now that’s it’s finally warming up here. You’re probably right about exercise being something you can control, I need to look at it that way too. Thanks for your comments and congrats. Good luck with that tennis swing!

  10. Congrats to you and your amazing family! Your daughter sounds awesome!!

    BTW, your medal rocks! I have two for finishing, one said “First Place” and came in the mail. I called the organization and tried to explain how they made a mistake, and they said I got first place for my age division.

    That means I was the only racer in that age division!

    I have so many finish lines, I can’t count them all. Dealing with the cancer beast is one, but I also find living day to day is helpful. Each day is a finish line.

    1. Beth, Thanks for commenting. I do kinda like my medal, having never been a recipient of medals before! Only racer in that division, who cares? That makes you even more of a winner in my book! You’re right there are a lot of finish lines, each day being one, I never thought of that before. You are so wise, Beth!

  11. Congratulations to you, and your family Nancy. I am thrilled to hear of, and share in, your success. Looks like a festive occasion.
    I think we were blessed to do lots of marching at school, which was good preparation for sports for someone with a cross dominance problem.
    I certainly learnt to excel at racquet sports and gym work during our years in the fitness industry.
    Did you end up with some sore muscles? ♥

    1. Chez, I’m so glad to read your comments. Thanks so much. I didn’t realize you worked in the fitness industry, I guess that would be motivating in itself to keep exercising. I experienced some ankle soreness and my feet bothered me some, but overall nothing unexpected. Thanks for asking. Hope you are feeling well. I need to get to your blog soon.

  12. Congratulations for completing the 10 k !! That is no small feat… I am impressed. I guess in terms of cancer, the finish line is many things… The finish line after surgery, or the finish line after completing the Chemo treatmets, the finish line of radiation and hormonal therapy… In any case, I no longer think there is just one finish line…. You move it as you cross one task off the list and begin the next.

    1. Michelle, Thank you for reading and commenting and for your congrats too. I really appreciate it! Cancer does have a lot of finish lines doesn’t it? Trouble is we keep crossing stuff off the list and still… Like you said, we just keep moving forward and like Beth said, each day is a finish line in itself.

  13. Oh Nancy I so get this! What a great post.

    Yes, there are so many finish lines – the one I found most difficult to cross, was probably (ironically) the start of chemo. I was so scared, and could just not imagine being on the other side of it.

    Now, a year and a half later, each Landmark day is its own finish line too, a step forward.
    Thinking of you on your bilateral anniversary and sending a warm hug

    1. Philippa, Thank you for commenting. I think you and I have much in common. Like you, I also greatly feared chemo and at the time that particular finish line seemed far away. I think you are right about each day having its own finish line. Thanks for the warm regards about that upcoming anniversary date, not quite sure how I feel about it yet.

  14. Wow, a 10k. That is very impressive. I was always the kid picked last, no athletic skills whatsoever. My oncologist said that chemo is sometimes harder on athletes so I guess it paid off for me! 🙂

    Unfortunately, I know for me that there is going to be a finish line. I hope it’s a few years away and there are a few things I want to do before I cross it. I’m trying very hard not to squint at it right now.

    Maybe I should get on that exercise bike I bought. 🙂

    1. But Doctor I Hate Pink, Thanks for commenting. I really appreciate it especially knowing what you have been going through of late. It’s nice to hear from another non-athlete! Yes, you do indeed have many more finish lines to cross! Don’t ever forget there are many of us out here who care and are in your corner. I hope knowing that helps a little bit.

  15. When I first read the title I somehow thought it was 10 million $s. That shows how much I keep up on athelitic things. ha. I identified with your comments on PE. Me too. I’m impressed with you and David’s accomplishment. And hurrah for your daughter too.

    1. Betty, Yes, that’s pretty funny thinking a 10K is about money! Good one! Well, I guess it is for the winner… Thanks for your supportive comments. We did feel good about just being there and finishing and Lindsay felt good about completing the whole marathon, something I cannot even fathom actually doing myself.

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