Monday, April 09, 2007

Not ready for prime-time

As an on-again, off-again distance runner (certainly more off than on since the kids were born) I've always felt the allure of running a marathon. Marathon training has undergone something of a revolution in the past two decades, and both runners and races are proliferating. So I felt a little frisson of delight when Friday's mail included an invitation to join a training program for marathons and triathalons.

As an extra little karmic bonus, the program was sponsored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Hey! I've got a lymphoma. How cool is that?

But I'm reading their brochure, and I get to the section marked "Honored Teammate." And I read:
    A key element of the . . . experience is getting to know your honored teammate - a local blood cancer patient whose courage provides motivation and inspiration - an individual whose challenge is greater then your own.
Now wait a damned minute! We all know who the "honored teammate" is that they're talking about: it's the stereotypical "cancer boy." You've seen him on Oprah, and Dr. Phil, and Dateline, and wherever else. The soft-spoken little bald kid with the Big C death sentence who wrote some book of poetry or said something that seemed wise beyond his years, and suddenly became a tragic media darling with some great wisdom to lay on us as his personal sun sets.

But this is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society telling me about "courage" and "inspiration" -- and I, personally, am a freaking lymphoma patient. Do I need to exhibit "motivation and inspiration" due to the nature of my "challenge?" Am I somehow obligated to morph into Cancer Boy and be all inspirational and shit just because an oncologist has given me an expiration date?

Because I am so not ready for that. Despite ample evidence of these ticking time bombs sitting inside of me, I don't feel like someone with cancer. As far as I can tell I'm still just some bald middle-aged guy with two kids and a mortgage, struggling to keep it real. I am certainly not ready for my 15 minutes of fame, let alone be some kind of role model.

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