February 13 2018
Colleen Kelly Alexander discusses the accident that changed her life and how she has rebounded in spite of the trauma to her mind and body.
SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING SPECIALIST
In 2008, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and I began to run as a coping mechanism. Lacing up and sweating through three miles every day became therapy for me—and a way to stay healthy while my dad was trying to do the same.
Pushing past aches and pains during races helped me feel close to my father, who was fighting his own battle, even though I assumed I would never really understand what he was going through.
But two years later, I started struggling during my runs and soon I couldn’t even finish my normal three miles without walking. My body felt off—I was fatigued from morning until night. I went to the doctor and found out that I had leukemia, the fast-growing blood cell cancer. I immediately had to undergo chemo.
I was hospitalized for 34 days, and throughout the experience, I often thought of running. When I felt so weak I couldn’t stand up in the shower, I would think back to the toughness I’d shown gutting it out during the last mile of races. I used this strength to push myself during my darkest hours.
I went into remission in May 2011—both my dad and I are now cancer-free! Some patients celebrate this good news with cake or a fancy dinner—but my party was a run around my neighborhood.
MY BEST ADVICE: KEEP A MEMORY LOG.
When you accomplish something difficult, whether it’s racing a 5k personal best or running 10 miles for the first time, savor the experience. You never know when you might need to call on this memory to win an even tougher battle.