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Erin Bohlen, left, runs with Team in Training to honor her dad Paul O'Leary, right, an avid runner who passed away from metastatic lung cancer in July 2005.
Team in Training: After dad's death, I run to fulfill a promise
Editor’s note: Over the past few months, 17 MultiCare staff members have been training for the Vancouver, B.C., Marathon on May 6 as part of Team In Training, which benefits The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. MultiCare is a sponsor of Team In Training, and participants raise funds to help find cures and better treatments for blood cancers. Leading up to the marathon, we’ll share some of their stories about why they run. To support their efforts, visit Team MultiCare.
By Erin Bohlen
Cancer Registrar, MultiCare Regional Cancer Center
Back in October, I participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk with the MultiCare team. Little did I know what that would lead to.
At the end of walk, a casual conversation with David Nicewonger, our team captain and Oncology Administrator for MultiCare Health System, led me to tell him that my Dad had passed away from metastatic lung cancer in July 2005.
As I talked to David, I told him that my Dad, Paul O'Leary, was an avid runner. He had done the Sound to Narrows every year since 1983. My Dad was a huge part of my life. He was a great husband and a great dad. He was a hands-on Dad and he was always, always there for me and my three brothers! He would drop anything he was doing to help any one of us.
My Dad was diagnosed in May 2005 with metastatic lung cancer. He passed away from it in July 2005. His last Sound to Narrows was in June 2004. I told David that after my Dad passed away, that I promised myself was going to run the 2006 Sound to Narrows for my Dad. I have yet to do that, and here it was 2011.
David started telling me about the Team In Training Vancouver, B.C., Marathon on May 6 that he would be coaching beginning in November 2011 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Spring team. I told him, in no uncertain terms that I couldn’t ever attempt to run a marathon. I didn’t even exercise! David told me that he could train me and that I COULD run that marathon. Let me tell you, David is persistent! From the Monday following the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, he was sending me the info, telling me all about the Team In Training, their mission, and his relentless pursuit to get me involved. He has a passion and a belief that I cannot even attempt to explain when it comes to Team In Training. He told me that I could do it! I believed him and signed up.
Well, November 12, 2011 was the beginning of it all; our very first Team In Training practice. Now let me reiterate, I did not exercise; but I did have these delusions that I could just start running. Not a marathon, but I didn’t think it would be any problem. David told me that I was to start "one in one" (one minute of running followed by one minute of walking). I thought to myself, “Is he joking? Start at one minute … piece of cake." This is where I found out I had major delusions; that one minute was the hardest and longest one minute ever! I couldn’t even do 1 minute! I thought for sure I was going to have a heart attack right there in Wright Park! David has had to remind me multiple (x 100) times to “trust the system.” Time on our feet will get us to the finish line. I may not be able to do a minute now, but I eventually will. And I have learned to trust the system and David. Granted, he has had to give me oh, I don’t know how many pep talks per week!
This has been a long journey of self-discovery, multiple aches and pains and yes, even self-achievement and self-confidence. I can honestly say that it is probably taking a village to get me through this, a MultiCare village; from Coach David, my mentor Krissteen Beard, Dr. Joshua Purses, my Sports Medicine physician who is helping me with all of my aches and pains, Melissa Elsing, my physical therapist who is working me out and trying to give me some hamstring muscles!
And last but not least by any means, my Team In Training teammates! I have met so many awesome people and have made new friendships on this journey.
Earlier this month, I ran 20 miles with my team! I never ever thought in a million years that I could say that I have run 20 miles (at one time) before. I did it. I won’t lie and tell you that I don’t hurt all over and that every muscle in my legs are killing me. Or, will I lie to any of you that I am beginning to wonder if I will ever be able to wear cute open toed shoes or flip flops ever again (I have callouses on every toe, black and blue toenails, and a missing toenail) and Coach David says that we cannot, repeat cannot, get pedicures before the marathon on May 6! I am supposed to sport these ugly feet as a medal of honor!
I have to say I have fantastic support group that have pushed me, motivated me, and have helped me in so many ways that words cannot express how I feel. My family and friends have outdone themselves in every way possible. I would name you all, but this would be entirely way too long.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life for patients and their families. I have made a commitment to raise $2,600 and run 26.2 miles to bring us that much closer to finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and other blood related cancers.
On May 6, I will be running in the Vancouver BC Marathon with 28 of my new friends; my Team in Training teammates. And this year, on June 9 I will fulfill the promise that I made to myself in 2005 and will run in the Sound to Narrows.
Thanks Coach for believing in me, even when I couldn’t!
Posted on Apr 30, 2012 in Cancer