When I was in 4th grade, I got a D in math. I felt like a failure. To me, math knowledge equated with smarts. And, naturally smarts equated with success. At 9 years old, I was doomed to a life without success.
Three years later my seventh grade English teacher read one of my essays to the class. She cried a little at one part. At 12 years old, I knew I was destined to write a book.
I spent my life thinking about this yet unwritten book until three decades later when I figured something out; wanting to write a book is NOT the same as having a story to tell.
My story began on New Year’s Eve 2012. I sat huddled in my bathrobe doing what any self-loathing, depressed person would do on this holiday: scrolling through Facebook. I, once again, felt like a failure. My practice was under attack by a beast called cancer. My patients were dying. I was getting a D. Not just at doctoring but at living.
Somewhere amidst the perfect family photos and crazy party plans, I saw a post for the Philadelphia Broad Street Run. I had been a runner for years but again, in my 2012 year of flunking, had stopped doing that to.
The moment I clicked on that link, I knew I had just taken control of my life. What I wouldn’t know for years was that my click would also impact the lives of thousands of people AND finally, give me my story to tell.
The Longest Mile is about the running team that started out as 4 friends training to run ten miles while raising a little money for the American Cancer Society. That “little” Team CMMD now numbers over 1320 runners, bikers, walkers, and supporters. Our “few thousand” dollars? Well, it is now over half a million raised for the American Cancer Society.
We are now a registered 501(c)3 charity. Besides supporting large non-govenrmental cancer researchers like the Wistarr Institute, we support local families struggling with cancer. We have given over $60,000 to families and have started an annual $20,000 scholarship honoring one of our own who is a cancer warrior herself.
But the real story behind my book goes far beyond the “numbers.” It is a story about the human spirit, our resiliency and our inherent goodness.
Our mission is not only to fight cancer, but to remain a source of positivity in our community. We have put 12,000 pounds of food on the tables of our hungry neighbors.
Our team is not made up of star athletes. To the contrary, many among us have never ran a single mile before joining us. We have built a diverse culture of positivity–one made up of professionals, laborers, stay at home moms, and single dads. We laugh together and cry together. We celebrate the non-runner that just finished his third marathon and the brand new walker that is on a mission to lose a hundred pounds–and we do so with the same vigor.
We run and cycle together in the pitch black wee morning hours and in the subzero Pennsylvania winters. Why? Because with every agonizing mile, impossible looking hill, or nearly frozen body part, we are reminded of one thing: CANCER IS HARDER.
Hatred of cancer brought us together. Believing in each other keeps us together.
Sure I am proud of this book. But more so, I am proud of the story it tells.