Friday, May 3, 2013


I recently read an article about a woman that I find to be very inspiring.  Her name is Kristin McQueen, and here's her story:

Ten years ago Kristin was diagnosed with metastatic thyroid cancer.  Since then, she has had fifteen major surgeries and has undergone various cancer treatments including radiation on her brain.  To date, she has finished seventeen marathons and nine full Ironman competitions.  She has continued to train during her fight with cancer, she says, because when she's out there on the road she is in control, not cancer.  I think that's pretty badass. 

Ironman is so much more than an endurance race," she says. "It is not about simply propelling myself 140.6 miles for kicks, it’s about challenging my limits and seeing what’s possible. It’s about reclaiming my body after five neck surgeries, two rounds of radiation, ten brain surgeries, and a slew of acquired physical challenges. It’s about not giving into all the limitations that cancer and its buddies have imposed on me, but viewing them as challenges that ultimately make the race even sweeter by overcoming them. It’s about going from not being able to open my eyes without getting sick, having difficulty sitting upright and being too weak to stand by myself to completing one of the ultimate tests of human endurance. It’s about raising money so that nobody else has to go through what I have. It’s about remembering those who have passed and honoring those who fight every day to live a 'normal' life despite a disease that tries to tear them down.”

As anyone who follows Ironman competitions knows, the Ironman Championship is held in October each year in Kona, Hawaii, and participants in the race have to qualify to enter.  It's "the big one," the granddaddy of all triathlons and one of the most rigorous events in sporting.

This year, the World Triathlon Corporation is giving seven athletes the opportunity to race at Kona though a program called Kona Inspired.  Each entrant in the contest has uploaded a 90-second video showing how their story relates to the theme of the contest, which is "Anything is Possible," and those who get the most votes will get to enter the race.  Kristin wants one of those slots.

If you are also inspired by this Ironwoman, here's how you can help, in three quick and easy steps:
  1. Watch this video.
  2. Vote for Kristin every day between now and May 7, 2013.
  3. Share the info on Facebook and Twitter and any other social media feeds you have - and email the link out to others who may not be into social media.  Ask everyone you know to vote for Kristin!

Kristin, sporting a "SUCK IT, CANCER" message during a race

For at least a dozen years before he got sick, my dad always called or emailed me ahead of time to alert me to whenever an Ironman triathlon was coming on TV so I could watch, and many times he called me on the phone during the race so we could talk about it.  Every single time I have watched an Ironman on TV, I have cried.  I don't mind admitting it; I find not only the talent but also (and probably especially) the dedication and just the raw guts that it takes to go the distance so awe-inspiring, but it's the stories of the back-of-the-packers that get me going every time.  Even if you're not an Ironman fan (an Ironfan?), you know the storyline: the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. I'm not sure which trumps which: the tears of the competitors who realize they will not be able to finish - or the tears of those who are crossing the finish line.  Either way, I can't imagine watching the race without being affected by those stories.

My dad wanted so badly to finish an Ironman competition; just a few days before he got sick - which was just a couple of weeks before his debut Ironman - he said he hoped to finish the event in less than twelve hours but that he would be happy just to finish at all.  After months of training and miles and miles on the road and in the pool, his chance to compete in the Ironman-North Carolina in 2010 was stolen from him by cancer, so unbelievably sad and so damn unfair.  As Kristin says, "Cancer is bullshit!"

Kristin has succeeded in finishing an Ironman - in fact, nine of them!  Most people feel they are giving their all when they finish a 5K, even if they are 100% healthy; Kristin has far surpassed that, while battling cancer. By any standard, she is already an Ironwoman, worthy of great respect and admiration for her athletic accomplishments.  The championship race in Kona, though, is within her reach, and I can't think of anyone who better embodies the idea that anything is possible.  With our help, she can make it there.

Good luck, Kristin; cancer can indeed SUCK IT!  I look forward to watching you amongst the other participants in the race on TV in October.  I can guarantee that I'll be watching - and crying.

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