Crossing the line…

Last year when I crossed the finish line, I cried.  Not because I was in pain – quite the opposite actually.  The 2008 London Triathlon took place in gale force winds and horizontal rain, so I decided to go nice and slow during the tri to make sure to avoid any falls (strictly forbidden by my elbow doctor).  I felt good, smiled the whole way, and was happy.  But I still cried when I crossed the line…I cried because I wondered if 2008 would be the last triathlon I did for breast cancer while Maria was still alive.  Since 2003 I have fundraised in memory of my mother and in honour of countless others who have battled breast cancer.  I did my first charity walk by participating in the Moonwalk Half-Moon Midnight Walking Marathon through Central London.  I wore on my leg a banner “For Maria”.  My friend Maria was diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2003.  I took each step of that Moonwalk knowing that my mother’s spirit was with me, and hoping that the fundraising I was doing would fund research that would hopefully let me have my friend Maria with me for many years to come.Brenda and I at the Moonwalk 2003 – participants wear push up bras to raise awareness of Breast CancerWhen I crossed the London Triathlon finish line in 2008, I did so about a month after Maria had told me that her doctors told her that she had about 3 to 6 months left to live.  I cried as I rounded the corner to enter the Excel Centre and saw the finish line.  I wondered if 2008 would be the last time I would call Maria to tell her that “I did it”.And it was.My dear friend Maria died in May of this year.  Maria was 12 years older than me and a sorority sister (for those of you who are not American, a sorority is essentially a women’s club steeped in traditional and founded around common values).  We both were fiercely strong women, and boy could we disagree! But in the end, our disagreements made us stronger – and her passion and my diplomacy made us a force to be reckoned with. She fought breast cancer with grace, vitality, and spirit.  In the end, her liver failed from the numerous rounds of treatment.  But her magic never faded, and her memory will motivate me this year as I once again seek the finish line at the London Triathlon.  From the moment we met in 2000, we shared loud laughs, listened to soaring operas, experienced the strange and overwhelming nature of Sigma Kappa conventions, met up in foreign lands, and grew close even when travel and distance separated us.  In late March 2009 I hosted a dinner for Sigma Kappa alumnae in London.  Maria came over to my place earlier than everyone else.  She had some messages for me – and in true Maria fashion, my duty was to listen and in turn to internalise and live these lessons – she was a forceful character! Maria told me to embrace every second of life.  She encouraged me to pursue my dreams, and to never sacrifice myself for anyone or anything else.  She forbade me from sacrificing my health for the perceived benefits of my job.And she gave me a big hug and told me that she loved me, and that she would always love me.For the first year in 2009, I will be doing the London Triathlon in Maria’s memory and to benefit the Breast Cancer Campaign.Maria and I, taken in November 2005. I love and miss her.Note:  To donate to the Breast Cancer Campaign in support of Donna’s triathlon, please visit:

3 responses to “Crossing the line…”

  1. Great post, Donna. I am sure your friend will be with you every step of the way this weekend. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

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