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I Run with an Angel!

By Amanda

Stay with me mom! I need you to help get me through these last miles!” At some point during every long run and race I talk to her. She is my angel, alongside me for every step. I seem to find strength whenever I reach out to her. Just 18 months ago I was able to pick up the phone and hear her voice. Although I miss her dearly, I have faith she is listening and guiding me along.

Cancer SUCKS! My mom, Sally, lost her battle with colon cancer in November, 2014. She fought hard for almost 3 years. It took a while for my memories to go from those of her in pain and dealing with such a horrible disease to those of the beautiful, happy, and funny mother who brought so much joy to our lives. Throughout her fight she was our rock. Several years earlier she had conquered breast cancer. Mom was the strong, courageous one who didn’t want my dad nor my sister Melissa and I to worry about her.

We tried to be strong ourselves, at least on the outside. It was heartbreaking to see her go through surgeries, chemotherapy treatments and the nastiness that cancer delivers. She didn’t deserve it. No one deserves it! What could we do to make it go away? What can we do to help her feel better? Comforting and encouraging her to not give up was easy. She wasn’t giving up. We wanted to do more. The feeling of helplessness was driving us crazy.

While watching Melissa run the 2012 Chicago Marathon Jimmy and I conjured up a plan to do more! Never having run a marathon, and spectating as my sister and tens of thousands of others participated in such an amazing event, we got the itch. We decided 2013 in Chicago would be our first marathon and not for selfish reasons but with a purpose. We know we couldn’t cure mom directly but we can certainly help her fight. As part of our marathon journey we decided to raise money for and represent The American Cancer Society (ACS) Team Determination.

Amanda, Melissa, and Jimmy Representing Team Determination
Amanda, Melissa, and Jimmy Representing Team Determination

ACS had already played a role in our lives by providing wigs and support for my mom. Their commitment to helping save lives, find cures, and fight back are among the many reasons why we wanted to represent them. Melissa joined us, committing to what would be her 7th marathon. She, Jimmy, and I formed a team we named “The Tumornators” and began raising money immediately.

Virtually everyone has been affected by cancer in some way so raising money was not difficult. We had a lot of fun doing it, received a ton of love and support, and easily eclipsed our team goal. Sam and Chris, our local contacts from ACS, provided a tremendous amount of support by hosting events and sharing stories, fundraising ideas, etc… Running for Determination also provided some extra perks such as a very inspirational pasta dinner on race weekend and race day amenities such as a compound to meet up and post-race party.

Are you looking to run a Marathon this fall? Joining ACS Team Determination is a great to fight back while also getting a guaranteed entry into the 2016 Chicago Marathon. They’ve also just introduced a very cool Virtual 5k which will take place anywhere, at any time, On June 5th (National Cancer Survivor’s Day). Racers of all fitness levels can complete the 3.1 miles on a track, their neighborhood, the treadmill or even at another race! They will receive an awesome finisher’s medal and a “I’m Running For…” race bib.

For more information on ACS Team Determination and their events Click Here

Find them on Facebook by Clicking Here

Or contact Samantha Kassel at 414.207.8631

Mom was still alive on race day 2013 but not well enough to deal with the craziness associated with a million spectators in the City. She knew we were running for her and the fight against cancer. I wore her name proudly on my Team Determination Singlet. I talked to her constantly throughout my run. Although she wasn’t physically present I do believe she helped guide us, especially after what Melissa encountered.

At mile 24 Melissa was struggling badly not knowing whether she was going to finish. Another woman ran up alongside her. The two ran side by side and began talking with my sister expressing the fact that she’s struggling. The woman offered words of encouragement while continuing to stay with her. When introducing themselves to each other the woman said, my name is Sally.  At that moment, my big sis knew she was going to be just fine. Melissa and Sally crossed the finish line together. It’s the story that will always give us goosebumps.

Running with a purpose and for a cause so near and dear to us was one of the greatest experiences of our lives!

Amanda Running Her 1st Marathon
Amanda Running Her 1st Marathon

I must admit between my supportive family, running mates, husband, and my angel, life on the run is pretty damn good!

We Love You and Miss You Mom!

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