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Why Sprint for Life is a family affair

It was a gorgeous morning for the Sprint for Life 5 K in the Medical District of downtown Houston on Saturday morning. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect – there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and, at 7:30 am, we were able to avoid the Houston heat and humidity.

I was thrilled to do this event with my two daughters, who have been getting more interested in running with me over the last few years. My youngest is still a bit too young for this distance. It’s our second year participating in this race, and it’s a very classy and well organized event. The Sprint for Life benefits the Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program at MD Anderson. Over the last 18 years, it has raised 4.6 million dollars.

Sprint for Life 2016

We all had a great run. My 13-year-old daughter placed 2nd in her age division with a time of 24:28. Because she was so fast she ran most of the race by herself. An older lady came up beside her and ran with her for a little while. She asked my daughter, “Who are you running for?” and my daughter proudly replied, “My Nana!” I got a bit choked up when she told me that, as that’s exactly what I was hoping my girls would take away from this event. I wanted them to think about what their Nana is going through and know that by running a simple 5 K they were part of something much bigger — a community of caring that’s raising both awareness and fundraising dollars.

On the day of the run, my older daughter posted a picture of us on Instagram with the caption: “Runnin’ with my Mama, in support of her Mama! #GoMoms.” I love that she recognized how three generations were coming together on that day, even though my mom was thousands of miles away.

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My mom and I at the Houston Texans game in 2014

Sprint for Life medal

We’re going to give her the nickname “Speedy”

Sprint for Life 2016 teal medal

Teal medal for 2nd place in 14 and under age group

For the post-race party, everyone gathered on the lawn for food, drinks and awards…and there was teal everywhere!! Teal table cloths, teal water bottles and even teal rice crispy squares. The restaurant chain Newk’s has thrown its support behind ovarian cancer through its Newks Cares campaign. It donates 10 cents from every water bottle sold to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Lori Newcomb, the wife of one of the co-founders, had ovarian cancer and she started the Newks Cares program – you can read her story here and I encourage you to watch Lori’s video.

Newk's water bottles

About 10-15 per cent of ovarian cancer cases are hereditary, so just because my mom has ovarian cancer doesn’t necessarily mean my daughters and I will develop it. However, it does put us at an increased risk and requires heightened surveillance. We are also investigating genetic testing, to see if our family carries a mutation of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes, also known as the hereditary breast and ovarian cancer genes.

Doing runs like we did on the weekend and writing posts like this are just one small way I can help contribute to the fight against ovarian cancer. Sunday, Mother’s Day, was also World Ovarian Cancer Day. It was an emotional one for me as I treasure every day I have with my mom and I always wish I lived closer to her.

The slogan this year for World Ovarian Cancer Day is #KnowNow.  You can click here to share what you “know now” about ovarian cancer. Through my mom’s experience, here’s what I know now:

  • Don’t ignore symptoms of abdominal pain, pressure and feeling uncomfortably full after eating
  • Women of Jewish and French Canadian descent have an increased risk of hereditary ovarian cancer
  • Chemotherapy is a bitch, but it greatly improves survival time
  • Become informed about genetic testing to help you make important decisions about your future health
  • Hug your mom and the other women in your life. Tell them you love them every day!!

This fall we will be back in Canada and living in Calgary. We plan to take part in the Walk of Hope as part of Ovarian Cancer Canada’s awareness campaign. What do you #knownow about ovarian cancer, or any other cancer that affects you and your loved ones?

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Michelle
 

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