I've run many races and never won. I've never even placed, not in any division. Not first. Not second. Not third. I've never had a medal of victory to hang around my neck.
My only hope of winning was the New Year's Day Run. The fast runners sleep in. The first few years I raced, my running friends always finished in the top three for their age groups. I never did. The last time I participated in the race, I knew I would win. I was in top shape. I ran my best time. Any previous year, I would have placed in my age group, maybe even won. But that year, the fast runners showed up. I left with nothing.
Tomorrow is my last day of radiation. I'm not completely done with treatment, but the worst is behind me.
Every Thursday I meet with my radiation oncologist. Today she gave me a big hug and a gift. It was my prize. I finished the race. I looked down at the butterfly-shaped medal and read the words, "Breast Cancer Survivor." My first medal, and it says I'm a survivor.
As I walked out to my car I felt happy. For the first time in months, I felt happy. Happy about surviving.
I got in my car, looked down at my ribbon, and cried.
I knew it was coming; the moment to finally let go.
Work hard. Fight. Stay strong. Keep focused. Day after day.
But not today. Today I let go. Today I cried.
I cried over the pain, the frustration, the loss, the fear.
I cried for joy. I made it. I finished. I survived!
I've been content in the present, but afraid of the future.
I've been afraid to hope and afraid of disappointment.
Today I dared to believe,
to believe for a future,
a future of living and not just surviving.