Posted by: kzaitzruns | July 7, 2015


Have you ever thought about what or who inspires you to run?  For me there are many reasons that inspire me to run, but in the last 6-7 years a big inspiration in my life has been my aunt.  Unfortunately as I write this she is losing her long fought battle with terminal cancer but I must say she has LIVED life fully even as she is fighting for her life.  As a professional athlete I am always inspired by people who beat the odds, and while she will die from the F#*@ing cancer, she beat the odds in so many ways!

The cancer started out in her lungs (stage 4) before moving to her bones.  She was given 6 months to live from her doctor, she showed cancer who was boss.  She didn’t sit in her apartment and dwell on it (yes, I know there were days where this happened, but we all have days we dwell on), she traveled and set future goals so she had something to fight for.  However, recently the cancer spread to her brain (F#*@ cancer!) and the cancer is now attacking the part of her where the fight comes from.  People often say mind over matter and this is true in running and in life.  She proved this as she LIVED life with cancer but it pains me now to even write this because she’s losing the part of her that said “F#*@ cancer, I’ll show you!”

So why is she an inspiration to me?  She showed courage when most people would give up!  She showed fight when she could have said, “cancer you win”.  They said there was a new experimental drug that could work but might not, she said “I’ll try it”!  While in the end, the cancer will take her, she has showed strength and bravery that most people (including myself) only hope to have when faced with a life threatening illness.  When I would race in Boston, she’d be out there cheering for me no matter how tired or weak she was feeling that day.  She has been one of my cheerleaders and she has become one of my biggest runspirations.  There have been many runs and races quietly dedicated in her honor.

Lately it is hard to go out on a run or go have fun without thinking, “I shouldn’t be enjoying this so much.”  I feel guilty that she is suffering while I am having a great run or fun with my husband or friends.  However, I know life cannot be lived feeling guilty.  She showed me that no matter what the times bring, life must be lived.  She showed this by example when the cancer decided to sneak it’s way into her body.  She showed cancer that she still had more living to do.  Life is often how we make it.  Our situations may suck but we can control how we deal with those situations.  She chose to live despite being told that she has a disease that will soon kill her.  She chose to live longer than the disease wanted her to.  She has taught me to be courageous, to be strong, to live life and be brave.  I don’t know if I will ever be as brave or courageous as she has been but I will do my best so that I honor her life.  I want her to know that her cancer wasn’t for nothing, it has taught me the TRUE meaning of perseverance, courage and what it means to fight like hell for something you want!

Aunt Kim I love you and am praying for you every second of everyday.

Until next time…


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