You know the quote that says "it's not a sprint, it's a marathon"? I always took that literally, thinking it only applied to actually running a marathon. In case you didn't realize, I was wrong.
When you run 5 miles, you tend to go for it. To the experienced runner (ie: not me), five miles is a walk in the park. When you run a marathon (or as my NYC roommate would say, "26 f--king miles"), you pace yourself. 26 miles is a long haul. If you run at the pace you would for a 2 mile run or a 5 mile run, you'd burn out pretty quickly and I'm no runner but I'm pretty sure that would suck.
Back in February, I found a lump. It was in my neck and it was a solid lump. Now I know enough about my body to know it was a lymph node that was inflamed. I discovered it one morning and didn't think too much of it, and mentioned it in passing to my staff mate Brent while we were walking back from duty check-in one night. He assured me that I was probably just getting sick and my lymph nodes were flaring up to protect my body. And I was fine with that answer and left it at that. And I waited to get sick. And waited. And I never got sick.
I didn't think too much of it though: I was super busy and it was smack dab in the middle of the school year. Once spring break came around and I had free time, the WebMD-ing started and I called home in tears.
One of the hardest parts of going to school in a different country is not being home for the big stuff: weddings, funerals, and everything in between. Luckily, I was going home the week after SB for my sister's engagement party, so I didn't have to wait too long to see my doctors and figure out once and for all what was going on. I flew in on a Thursday, saw my doctor within a couple hours and was in the hospital running blood tests and an ultrasound only a few hours later. Now if you ask anyone who knows me, I hate being sick: I hate doctor's appointments, I hate blood tests and needles and I hate medication. So my willingness to do these things showed how confused I was. My doctor (who happens to be my aunt) wasn't too concerned with the lump, just, like me, confused at why it was there.
We found nothing. So we treated it with antibiotics. Now to make a long story short: it didn't help. Several months, several doctors in my college town, and wayyyy too many doctors visits, needles and scans and tests later, we were back where we started: we weren't too concerned but we weren't exactly sure what was going on. During a particularly stressful time in school and life, and while struggling with a bout of homesickness, one of the doctors I saw threw out a word I never wanted to hear. Not sure if you know it, it starts with a C. He didn't know anything for sure but he wanted me to be aware that it may take a turn for the worse. I left his office in tears. Thankfully it didn't.
When people ask me how this semester was, the only answer I can think of is draining. This semester ran me down and proved to be the hardest semester for me thus far (which is shocking after the semester I had in the fall!). So I was overjoyed once May came around and I packed my bags to go home - a decision I figured was the right one with the way my doctors and I had left my health issues: up in the air. I came home, ran even more tests and was given a clean bill of health. Miraculously, all of the nodes that were inflamed (there were several at this point) had gone down to a normal size and I was set for the summer!
But my body wasn't having that: a couple weeks later, a few weeks ago, more popped up and they were larger and more aggressive than the last and it was time to do something.
I had surgery last week to remove and run some tests. And while I was very weak and scared, I know it was the right choice. And now, I wait. This week was a really frustrating and painful one, especially as my surgeon told me that running tests might not even give us an answer as to why all of this was happening, but I endured, sucked it up, and hypothetically put on my marathon shoes.
I don't like to be out of my comfort zone often: that's why I moved to New York or made my 101 in 1001 list, to challenge myself. I was looking for the perfect challenge with Maggie, my freshman roommate and one of the only people from school that I confided in during the health debacle, and we found a half marathon in her hometown, only 20 minutes from our campus. It's beautiful, along the Connecticut coastline and it's three months away.
The aunt who's also my doctor is ALSO a marathon runner (I know, she's remarkable!) and her determination towards everything she does inspired me to attempt to do the same. I'm not a runner. I've never been and I probably never will be. But I'm determined to do this for myself. I'm not trying to compete, I'm trying to complete, no matter how long it takes me. So I'm starting Marathon Monday, a weekly series dedicated to the newest journey I'm on.
In life, it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. This refers to your health, any friendship or relationship, running a race, everything. The focus should be on getting and doing better regardless of how long it takes. It's taken me six months, but I'm finally here and I'm on my way to getting better.