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The Lucky One

It was really cold in NYC this weekend. Most of the little Upper East Side dogs were decked out in full coats that matched their collars, some even had booties. I spotted a couple of Italian
Greyhounds looking forlorn and trembling on their leashes. They weren’t
interested in a walk in the park on this day – they just wanted to go home to
their warm condos.

But cold as I was, I didn’t have the option to retreat. I
had come to run in the Colon Cancer Challenge with my friend Seton – a lifelong
marathon runner just finishing her second round of chemotherapy. She was in
high spirits – and laughed at my joke that this was the first race in which I’d
have a “snowball’s chance” of keeping up with her.  You see, I’d always wished I could be an
athlete – but the best my genes could do is prepare me to pull the plow. So I
plod along, hoping for the day when I’ll be invited to join a caber toss – and
actually have a chance of doing something I might be good at.

But I digress.

So thousands of runners took to the 4 mile course – and as I
looked around I doubted that too many of them were actively taking chemotherapy
like Seton. She was bound and determined to run at least half of the way, and
had been training for it between IV infusions of very toxic drugs.

Seton’s husband was beaming with pride as he photographed
her at the start gate. I had vowed not to leave her side, no matter what the
pace… She had about 20 other friends who had joined the race as well and a
small handful stayed with us for the entire time. Amazingly, Seton was able to
run 3 of the 4 miles, her hands cramping in the cold, her thin legs carrying
her tingling feet past familiar landmarks. She held her head high, and never
complained – though it must have been hard for a former track star to watch people
of lesser abilities passing her on the trail. Her friends called her cell
phone every 10 minutes to find out how she was feeling/doing. They didn’t know
that it was so hard for her to even open the phone.

As Seton crossed the finish line, she held her arms up in
the air, as if she were breaking through winning tape. Cameras flashed, people
cheered, and I saw tears well up in her eyes as she tried not to show her
exhaustion. She gathered her friends around her and gave this short speech:

“I want to thank all of you for coming out and supporting me
and the fight against colon cancer today. I can’t tell you how much it means to
me to see all of your smiling faces… Although I certainly had some unlucky news
recently, I want you all to know that when I look at you, my dear friends and
family, I feel like the luckiest woman alive. I am so glad to have you all in
my life. I am truly blessed, and I’m going to beat this cancer with you all by
my side.”

There wasn’t a dry eye among us.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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3 Responses to “The Lucky One”

  1. rlbates says:

    Good for both of you!!!

  2. NB2 says:

    I could write a novella about the last sentence in your post. Your friend hit the nail on the head.

    Real friends and real family support are a very important part of any treatment plan.

    You are a good friend or as I say a “real friend”.

  3. nobimp says:

    Well done Val and good luck to your friend.  She will beat this cancer with her attitude and the best medical care there is.  You are lucky to be her friend and she is lucky to have you all.


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