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This morning my family participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure for breast cancer.  I have to admit that having dedicated my runs to breast cancer research over the last 3 years, I wasn’t necessarily excited about running with my family as part of the team put together by the schoolthat our kids attend.  I like running alone with my thoughts, but this run is for a good cause and breast cancer runs are an event that I encourage everyone to experience.

Each year I forget what a scene it is.  Survivors of breast cancer are given special shirts that help them stand out.    As my kids and I picked up our regular shirts we saw my wife go to the “Survivors” tent to pick up her shirt.  The hug she was given by the volunteer and the clapping that people gave her hit me.  It reminded me how serious this all is and how lucky we are.  Everywhere, teams lined up for their group photo.  That is where you saw the numbers.  We counted 5 in the Bank of America group, 6 in the Oracle group, 3 in our school’s group.  Another 4 in the Pottery Barn group.  The numbers were there.  1 in 8 people there had survived cancer.

My son and I ran the 5K race leaving my wife and another mom survivor after she told us to run ahead.  As we ran past a survivor or one passed us the cheering got loud.  We completed the race and waited at the finish line for my wife.  It is such a rare race.  People wait by the finish line more than any other race and cheer each other on.  Most runners leave, but no at this race.  As you see that special pink shirt that says “Survivor”, you see their fist pump, the tears and the smiles on their face and you cheer and clap until your hands hurt.  And then for me I see my wife running across the line holding my daughters ahdna and her friend’s hand up high and smiling.  My son put his arm around my waist.  We let everyone else cheer.  It made me proud and inspired as a participant. Sounds weird, but that’s how I felt.  In a way, I felt bad that I had almost not wanted to participate for my own selfish reasons.

Pink Balloon arch by the Ferry building start line

Yes I was inspired by my wife as well as the hundreds of other survivors who crossed the finish line today.  But more importantly I was inspired by the outpouring of community that I saw as people encouraged complete strangers and urged them on.  One lady said , “This race is nothing.  I kicked cancer’s butt” as  local reporter approached her as she crossed the finish line.  The power of encouragement drove them.  My wife said the outpouring of encouragement every step of the way wouldn’t let her stop.

Probably the best part of the Komen Race For the Cure is the celebration at the end where survivors walk one by one through arches of pink flowers  and are serenaded with a round of applause from all participants.   As each individual survivor emerges, the roar is amazing and you can almost see their stories.  There were women in their 80s.  There was a young teenage girl.  There were women of all ethnicities.  As woman after woman emerges, there is the build up of emotion and you wonder if it will ever end.
Then everyone breaks out and sings “I will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor (?).  To me the song is wrong.  I think they should be playing Eye of the Tiger BY Survivor.  These women are not survivors.  They are tough fighters.  Just like Rocky.  They inspire us to run and never ever give up because we know where we came from.