Running. Cancer. The hat and the National Anthem.

It’s interesting when being diagnosed with cancer hits me. Many times I go about my day not giving cancer a second thought. And every once in a while, bam, I’m instantly reminded of what cancer takes from me. Today is one of those days.

I ran this morning in the Honor the Fallen 5K. I ran for a DPS Officer killed in the line of duty and I had a Unites States flag to present to his best friend at the finish line. I was ready to go. I prepared by looking up the directions to the start line, figured out where to park, knew what time to be at the registration and noted that the National Anthem was going to be played. I knew I wanted to be there for that. I enjoy the Anthem and I always take off my hat and place my hand over my heart. I didn’t have any other thoughts that entered my head. Just a normal day taking off my hat while the Anthem plays. No problem. Until it is.

As I stood waiting for the race to start, an announcement was made that the National Anthem was to be played in about 5 minutes and to please remove your hats. I panicked. I couldn’t remove my hat. I was nearly bald. With a hat on I looked perfectly normal. My hair loss pattern and the length of my hair makes it look like I have hair and like I don’t have cancer. But if I were to take the hat off, I am obviously going bald. I looked at my friends and said “I can’t take my hat off”. I was bewildered and didn’t know what to do. I always remove my hat during the anthem. I was so upset I started crying. In that moment, I realized once again what cancer takes. Today, it took from me the security of one simple act: removing my hat. Today it took from me a traditional way of honoring my country. I felt I let down the individuals I was there to honor, the Fallen. And the USA. I choose to honor my country by removing my hat, and today I thought I couldn’t. Seeing my distress my friends came to my aid and said it’s ok, today you don’t remove your hat but put your hand over your heart instead. Today, that’s how you demonstrate honor. My friends support and encouragement helped in calming me. The Anthem started, I placed my hand over my heart and wore my hat. If I allow it, cancer can steal from me. It can steal vitality, security, and independence. I didn’t allow cancer to win. I embraced flexibility, resilience and friendship. And in this moment, I recognized once again the power of running fierce beyond cancer.

Are you ready to run fierce beyond cancer? I invite you to follow and share my blog. Do you reside in Tucson? Find the Team FIERCCE Facebook page for information on our group runs.

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