Like many families, my mom is my best friend. We share everything together – from our love for animals, kayaking, adventuring, and most importantly, running. My mom, Sue, and I have ran over 15 half marathons together and countless 10ks.
In 2016, my mom was diagnosed with a “mass bigger than a golf ball” on her brain, which soon turned in to a “tumor as big as a baseball.” This news put our lives to a halt but did not stop our legs from running through this obstacle. My mom’s strength through this process was found through her love for running.
After 10 hours of brain surgery to remove this tumor, my mom was diagnosed with a meningioma. This is a brain tumor that is 90% benign, however, one that requires consecutive MRIs to monitor the risk of growth.
My mom experienced a longer ICU stay and complications that were not expected, yet, after just one month of recovery, my mom was determined to run 4 miles. Which this turned into 6 miles then 13.1 miles only 6 months later when we ran our third Cleveland half marathon. Of course this process was not easy as nothing in life is.
My mom has worked hard to be where she is right now and her brain tumor could never hold her back. She experienced several mornings where she suffered headaches, loss of feeling in one of her hands, legs going weak, and some days not even being able remember what she was doing. On top of this, with her tumor being located on her frontal lobe, she also experiences personality changes. These were the hardest to handle as a family member and I could not even imagine how hard it was for my mom. Even during this time, she always said, “I’m going for a run and you can’t stop me.” When we run, we focus on ourselves and where we are. Finish times mean nothing to us as long as we cross that finish line together. Even though we have ran several races together, my mom and I always hold each other’s hand through the many finish lines and once we cross, I always look at my mom and when I see her crying, that’s enough motivation for me to show the world what we love.
My mom is my inspiration not just because she is my mom but because she is the strongest and most determined person I know. My mom has taught me to keep running even when it hurts and that it requires nothing else but to know that we can hold each other’s hand anytime through this process. My mom’s brain tumor hasn’t stopped her from living her life and doing what she loves the most. She is brave, determined, and mighty. Fortunately for my mom, she has been diagnosed with a benign tumor, but the fear leading up to yet another MRI still makes you shiver. My mom’s brain tumor has taught our family that life is the most precious gift and you never take it for granted.
The one thing our family wants people to understand is that having a brain tumor does not define who you truly are. When you surround yourself with those you love and love you back, the pain of what you are going through is a little more bearable. As someone that watched someone they love become someone they did not know, your heart breaks every second. Life can be scary, ugly, and mean, but our family strongly believes in, “everything happens for a reason.” If you ever find yourself questioning “why me” or “why my loved one,” believe that there is a reason, and always remember you are stronger than you think.