I have this cousin who's prettier, wittier, braver, stronger and funnier than me. Its annoying really. Because darnit anyhow, I wanna to be the cool one.
But if i would step to the side for anyone, it would be for Mrs. Emily Thielke. Because i'm no match for her.
I've been wanting to write about the Lozilu Mud Run, that i did with her and a group of friend back in June, for awhile now.
The only thing is--i didn't know how to word it.
You see, my amazing cousin was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (yes, i had to read an email to figure out how to spell that) about 2 1/2 years ago. I don't tell you this because she is defined by it--oh no--i only tell you because it is pertinent to my story.
You see, Emily has a caringbridge site, but you know what she does with it? She writes about her sisters baby's health, and her thankfulness for blessings and continued prayers, she updates us on her doctors and other things long before she writes about herself and her own situation. That's the kind of girl she is. Humble to the core--yet, stronger than anyone else. But not just the "she has cancer so she's strong" kind of tough. No, no, no--this girls is s-t-r-o-n-g. Tall Bunyon strong (she likes when i call her that). I'm talking spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally and socially strong. Her faith in Jesus Christ runs deep and she relies not on her own strength but on His. He is her rock, her fortress, and her deliverer.
She's so stinkin' cool. She never, ever, makes a big deal about herself. And yet--she really IS such a big deal. And i love her so much.
Well, this June i decided to run/walk this mud run with her--cause i'm always up for a party and if it means being with her--well, than i'm definitely IN!
Here we are before the race. Excited!!
Here I am, delicately crossing over a wall in a very lady like manner. Gross.
This is us as we reached the finish line, high fiving the adorably perfect Boone kids!
Here's us dancing. Emily even has some sweet air in this one. Typical Emily. Awesome.
My favorite one. Dance machines. Kevin Bacon ain't got NOTHIN' on us.
You flex because you feel strong when you are covered in mud and have a bandanna on, that's why.
Final photo before we go wash off in the(panic-attack-inducing) lake.
Yea. Yes. Yippie. Look at us. We're swimming, because its so natural and easy.....why wouldn't we do it.
I think i'm kissing the ground in this one. Because i was sure i was going to drown out there. Ugh, but if everyone doin' it....you bet I am too. At least i look delicate and petite in this shot. Thank you Lord for LAND!
I'm always like Oh, yea right. Suuuure that money is going to research. Probably some big business pocketing it and flying their private jet to a tropical location. No thank you.
But this particular sponsor was good. I guess. I mean, Emily told me that --so i believed it. (and she was sooo right!)
So we ran the race. (My first year. Their second)
So for me, just being with Emily was a joy.
You really couldn't not love her if you met her. Its sickening. You hear that miss Perfect--you're sickening!!
My only saving grace is that we share a bit of genetics.....so, that helps me sleep at night, because maybe some day....she'll wear off on me :)
After the race--which was AMAZINGLY FUN--we went to the little booth where you buy shirts. Which is something i would never-ever-do. But Emily was going to do it, and her friends were--so i guess i was. I blame the endorphins. And the fact that i just thought i was going to drown in my 4 minute swim in the lake. Seriously.
We got our shirt sizes figured out--i opted for a moo moo, but they didn't have one--and then at the end of the transaction, the woman asked Emily if she wanted to donate to this L.I.F.E organization. (which gives 100% of its profits to young cancer patients who are in financial need.)
Dooooe-naaaattttee, i heard her say over and over in my head in slow motion.
I automatically froze, always hating this question.
But do you know what Emily did?
(of course you do. She's so much better than me)
She said, Absolutely!!
And then she went on to tell the volunteers how much this organization meant to her and how they truly helped her financially in her first year after the diagnosis. They were so willing and supportive and giving.
To which her awesome friend (as if on cue) took out a 50 dollar bill and threw it down and said she wanted to give to donate as well.
Emily was so touched and gracious and thankful..
She talked about how cool this L.I.F.E organization is. How they give 100% of their proceeds to people with cancer. How it really helped her out in a very difficult time.
The volunteer nodded and really seemed to understood how much this meant to Emily.
And then she asked, "Are you a survivor?"
(Emily has chronic Leukemia--which means its ongoing and has YET to have a cure.)
It was silent as we stood there.
A deafening silence.
Why was my heartbeat exploding in my ear? The wind seemed to fall still as we stood there.
Behind Emily, I waited....
".....survivING." she responded, as only Emily could.
The air seemed to disappear from my lungs. Would her wonders never cease.
The woman nodded, slowly, and wiped a tear from behind her glasses.
It was a powerful silence. One that weighed about as heavy as a ton of bricks on me.
Emily smiled and said something sweet (as usual) and the topic moved in a different direction.
But i stood there frozen. Broken by my cousins fight. Powerless to her pain. In awe of her never ending strength.
Its a moment that i will never forget.
The sisterhood of woman standing together, some fighting, some surviving, some supporting. All because we love someone and want to fight this thing.
I've never felt that before.
But you can bet that when they asked if i wanted to donate......i was never so happy to say "YES!"
That was June.
And a few days ago, we heard some news that is thrilling (beyond finding an actual cure). After 21/2 years of chemotherapy she has FINALLY reached "complete molecular remission (response)" This is such amazingly big news, you have no idea. It doesn't mean she is cured, but it means that it's working.
Its finally working.
And my heart is so full.
Emily is going to participate in a walk on September 28th to raise awareness for this disease and to help fund the research.
Here's what she wrote...
"Each year The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) put on a 'Light The Night Walk' fundraising campaign to raise awareness to the cancer as well as raise money for research. Research that clearly is making a difference in my life. We're counting on events and organizations like this one to hopefully one day find a cure.
I've decided that my family is going to walk with Emily on that Sunday (and hold hands....but i haven't told her about that part yet) We want to stand beside her in her fight. Because there's no one better.
If you want to support the greatest person i know--support Emily. Please.