two weeks post. whirlwind & be present.

Originally Published on November 19, 2013

Hello my superstar supporters!

I know I’m very delayed in writing post-marathon, but…I DID IT!  I ran 26.2 miles of magic through NYC. The energy, culture and cheers of this unique city made me fall in love with it even more.  There were so many friends and family and strangers out to support the 50,000+ runners from all over the world.  Meg and I fed off their energy to carry us through each leg of the race.  We barely spoke, read signs, were full of smiles and soaked it all in – being present in the whirlwind around us.

I remember the start -- we were closed out of Wave 3 at 10:30am and rolled with the punches to the Wave 4 start at 10:55am.  I remember the Verrazano Bridge and simply hearing our bibs flap in the strong winds.  I saw my cousin, Kelley, and dear friend, Nate, in Brooklyn and I remember mile 8-8.5 -- the crowd was the loudest and there was an incredible gospel choir filling the air with their beautiful voices.  At Mile 16, I remember Meg shouting encouraging words to our fellow runners, filling the silence of the 59th Street Bridge from Queens to Manhattan. The bulk of my family and friends were across the street from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center at 67th and First Avenue.  How powerful to run past the place that saved my life. Photo above. Later on in the 90s, I saw my MSKCC nurse practitioner, Cathy, with her two daughters – Cathy took care of me all through my five-week hospital stay and oversaw my protocol, especially my stem cell transplant.  I ran over to give her a big hug and we exchanged “I love you’s” -- spurred by the emotion of this amazing endurance event.  I was able to experience the marathon because of the care and treatment I received at that wonderful hospital.  The day was truly surreal.

These past two weeks have been a complete whirlwind – marathon (check!), beautiful baby girl niece born the next morning (check!), high-end gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last Tuesday (check!) and transitioning into a new full-time role at a rockstar full-service marketing agency today (check!).  I knew these weeks would be packed full of goodness, but I did not foresee the sudden passing of my first oncologist, Dr. Subhash Gulati at the age of 62.  Not only did he save my life, his generosity shined through so many channels.  His warmth and flexibility to administer my ABVD chemotherapy for 6 months allowed me to receive treatment early in the morning before heading off to work.  At a hospital, I would’ve waited for hours upon hours but I kept my normalcy (as much as possible) during that time.  And it was all because of Dr. Gulati’s selfless nature and perspective on life.  Who has their oncologist’s cell phone number?  I did.  He was a game-changer who provided hope and solutions with compassion and grace. I had just emailed with him a few days before the race; he told me how proud he was of me.  Over the years, he always generously supported my fundraising efforts for my races through his foundation – the Advanced Research Foundation, which provides grants to various oncologists and researchers to advance and improve protocols.  My heart is incredibly heavy knowing that the earth will not continue to receive this bright light and his positive energy -- but I strongly believe we all have the best guardian angel watching over us.  I have to tell myself that to make sense of this.  I promise to carry on his legacy through my way of life, especially by connecting with patients going through treatments.  I am honored to have known Dr. Gulati.  Listening to his family, friends, former/current patients speak at his wake on Friday evening, I was – once again – reminded how precious life is.  Can I please invite you all to keep him and his family in your thoughts?  I will be endlessly grateful.

So, with all of this going on, I find myself in a whirlwind, struggling to be present and seeing the big picture.  I joke that "the hamster is always busy" (i.e. my mind is full of thoughts, to-dos, action items, connections, plans, work, vacation, activities -- truly, ways to enjoy life to its fullest)…but as 2013 winds down, I am making a commitment to myself to be present and enjoy each and every moment.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my journey over the past 6 weeks!  You are truly making a tangible difference and changing lives with the funds raised -- totaling nearly $8,400 for the Survivorship Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Deepest gratitude and til the next one,

Lauren (Chi)