In 2001, I received a double transplant of a kidney and pancreas and in 2003, I became a cancer survivor.. And just like the Juvenile Diabetes, there are a ton of stories to go along with these miracles in my life too, but for today, I focus on the months just after receiving my transplant and while undergoing chemo treatments for my cancer.
As a transplant recipient, one has the opportunity to become part of the Transplant Games held every other year, somewhere in the United States. The Transplant Games are likened to the Olympics, but only transplant recipients can compete. The events are the same . . . there are various running and swimming events, and biking, etc. The purpose of the games is to demonstrate that life after transplantation is very full and recipients are able to live their lives just as healthy people do.
So it was 2002 and I had just received my transplant a few months prior to the games. In fact, I just made the cutoff for being able to compete as they need to be sure an athlete is truly ready to compete in these rather competitive games. My transplant doctor approved me to compete and according to Game rules, I qualified in every aspect. It was my oncologist who didn’t like the idea of me boarding the plane to Florida for a week and then competing on top of that. I told him I understood but I was going anyway. He knew better than to argue with me 🙂
I trained a little bit to compete in the mile long run, the 5K power walk, and a swimming event. My first event was the mile run. I remember entering the stadium filled to the brim with supporters, cheering and waving banners to support their loved ones. It was such an amazing feeling as we entered the stadium just like athletes in the “real Olympics” . . .in uniform, by team, carrying a flag, marching around the stadium . . . .it was all so exciting!
It came time for my event and I found the area where my race group was gathering. As we introduced ourselves to each other, I was saying to my fellow competitors how great it would be if we all linked arms and crossed the finish line together. Afterall, a medal would be nice and all, but we had so much more to be celebrating that day than just completing a mile long run. They all looked at me like I was completely out of my mind. That’s when I realized I better get my game face on quick and get my head in the game because these people were not messing around. They were “in it to win it”!!
We lined up at the start line and I was ready! I didn’t look left or right. My eyes were straight ahead, my feet were positioned to blast off at the sound of the gun, and there would not be any looking back. I was going to leave these fierce competitors of mine in the dust. The gun shot rang and I took off lickity split, head down, mind set, I was going to be the winner by a long shot!
As I rounded my last lap the crowd was going completely wild! The cheers were deafening and flags were waving and I was in my glory . . . .I must really be “wowing” them with my breakneck speed!! And as I looked up to fix my eyes on the finish line and the ribbon that I would blast through as the first place winner, there were all my fellow competitors at the finish line already, jumping up and down for me, cheering their hearts out, as I finished the last 100 yards of the race. . . . .dead last!!
Apparently, when I was so focused on my “breakneck speed”, I must have missed my competitors passing right by me, leaving ME in THEIR dust!! hahaha!!!! It was a really funny moment! But also incredibly awesome! There I was, a very new transplant recipient, in the midst of receiving some pretty serious chemotherapy, and I finished the race! I didn’t care one bit what place I came in that day. I cared very much that I did my transplant donor proud and demonstrated that YES! transplantation does work, and so does the power of believing in yourself!
So share . . .a time when you believed in yourself and overcame the odds. What did it feel like and how do you use your accomplishment to MOtivate yourself and others?