Battle Cry at the Park – It’s a Very Real Thing

I wanted to elaborate a little more on my cancer treatment hill climb and battle cry that you may have seen this week. There is definitely a meaningful history to that and I’m very happy that it’s grown into even more. The venue is the Veterans Memorial Park on Lawrence Road in Marple Township.  The park is beautiful and is dedicated to United States War Vets. When my dad (a WWII US Army Vet) passed away in 2005, we got him a bench there and a plaque with his name on it. It is a peaceful place to sit, walk, or run and I feel my dad in that park.

When I was first diagnosed in 2006, Mary Grace and I really didn’t know what to do with ourselves upon receiving the news. After a few minutes of sifting through the fog of confusion, fear, and uncertainty, we decided to go visit my father. We thought he would be the guiding light we needed to comfort us in our time of worry. He did and he was. Mary Grace and I talked and walked around the park, asking dad to give us strength and courage. In time, we eventually felt a calming presence come over us. We didn’t have the answers, and we were scared. But we realized that we were only fearing the unknown, which should be nothing to fear. We knew what we needed to do and we knew we were ready to do it.

It was at that point that I sprinted to the top of that hill and let out a shriek from the bottom of my toes. It was my battle cry. It was our battle cry.

We’ve all visited that park many times over the years. It remains a place we can call “home” when we want to ground ourselves and when I want to be closer to my dad. I’ve had many talks with him there. There have been subsequent battle cries with subsequent treatments. When Comcast Sportsnet did a feature story on me, there was only one logical place to shoot the story – at the park.

So this new treatment journey will be no different. I will visit dad and the park on my treatment days. After chemo this past Tuesday, MG and I again visited and began with a little walk around the trail. The walk is a good time to think and reflect. Within a minute I turned to her and said, “You know I have to run, right?” “Yep, I sure do” was her response. So I took off and ran a couple of perimeters of the park while MG walked. As I passed her on my 2nd lap, I said “Meet me at the bottom of the hill”. We met at the bottom of a small hill near the kid’s playground and I commenced my run to the top and let out my signature battle cry. I felt great.

As MG walked another lap, I quietly stretched and collected my thoughts and gave thanks to the many people and blessings that have become such a vital part of my healing process. Things feel connected there. Between my dad’s bench, our own personal history with the park, and the fact that the Crozer Keystone Regional Cancer Center is a half mile away, this park is our place to find strength and solace.

I have cancer, it doesn’t have me.

And I live above it, not simply with it.

The next Battle Cry run will likely be on the 2nd day of the next round of treatment (8/16). Feel free to come join us to both remember a friend or loved one lost and let out a battle cry for those fighting the good fight.

Until next time.

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