The Race for the Cure comes each year to Detroit, and over the last 10 years, I’ve donned my Team Compuware T-shirt all but three times to join thousands of runners and walkers in this vital cause.
Compuware was (and still is) a huge sponsor of the event the year I first signed up. Being an employee and a woman, it just seemed the right thing to do. As an old boss of mine once told me, “I volunteer and donate because I’d like to think if I should ever need help, someone would be there for me.”
I’ve never seen anything like it. The numbers were just staggering — a wave of humanity washing over Woodward Avenue. Many were, like me, a supporter of the cause. Yet, there were so many others — patients and survivors. And then the friends and families who honored their loved ones lost to cancer. I saw their determination. I saw it first on their backs as they wore T-shirts with photos, dates and sentiments: “She may be gone, but we fight on.” Then I saw it on their faces.
That first year touched me so deeply, I wanted, in some small way, give hope and comfort to those I never met in the fight against breast cancer. It’s why I keep returning.
This year, however, is different.
A dear cousin on my husband’s side lost her battle to breast cancer just a few weeks ago — the day before her birthday. She would have been 65.
Marie was first diagnosed with breast cancer many years ago. She fought that battle and won, having gone into remission. However, a couple of years ago the news broke: The cancer had come back with a vengeance.
I’d see her frequently at holidays, graduations, birthdays and family get-togethers while she underwent a series of treatments. I’d ask her how she was doing, and Marie always replied with a smile, “just fine.” That wasn’t always the truth. I just can’t imagine the strength it took to get up and ready to head to a family function. No matter how tired or “off” she felt, Marie never missed a one.
She was determined that way.
So much so that she requested there would be no funeral or wake. Marie requested instead that her body be donated to science for breast cancer research. Marie was determined to beat this disease even in death. Her daughter told me, “Isn’t that just like her, caring about others over herself.”
I couldn’t admire Marie more.
This year, as I lace up my shoes, I’m determined to run across that finish line for the cause — and for Marie.
If you’d like to do your part, visit the 2013 Race for the Cure official website to find a race in your area.