Racing Days Gone By

This morning I registered the four of us to walk in the Philadelphia Race for the Cure 5K on Mother’s Day. We’ll be walking with team H4J – to be explained in a later post. Today I’m writing about a very special past race.

Every October from the year 2000 on, the church we attended in Arkansas participated in the Little Rock Race for the Cure. It was women only and each year we’d come up with a new team name, design t-shirts and make a big deal out of it. We’d also grow in numbers.

Our beautiful team captain, Kathy, started all of this because her sister in Texas had breast cancer. Sadly, we unexpectedly lost Kathy to a freak accident in July of 2003. After that Cindy and I co-captained 2003 and 2004.

My diagnosis was April of 2005 and it seemed awfully ironic. Two and a half years previously my childhood friend had been diagnosed so I had started walking for her. Never once did I think I would ever be wearing a pink t-shirt along with all the other survivors.

When October of that year rolled around I was still in treatment and really struggling with my white count. My last three treatments were each delayed a week because my counts were too low to handle the chemo, so there was no way I would be allowed amongst the sea of 40,000+ people and swarming germs.

The team continued, however, and they walked in my honor. My friend, Rhonda, designed the t-shirts. She and my friend, Beth, were the ones who coined the name “G.I. Jen”. They thought it fitting to call the team “G.I. Jen’s Platoon.”

Here’s the front. And no, it’s not your eyes. The picture is a bit blurry.

And this is the scripture I chose for the back.

My sister, Michele, flew in from New Mexico to take part in the walk and afterwards we all met up at the church for a breakfast the men cooked. I sorely missed the walk that day, but the support from this incredible group of people was humbling. I didn’t feel worthy, but at the same time it filled me with such joy.

We moved to Pennsylvania a month after the Philly Race in 2006 and I had some strange skin affliction last year which prevented us from walking. I can’t begin to describe the excitement I feel about being involved again and the gratefulness I have that I’m healthy enough to do it! I’ve missed it.


  1. Gretchen on March 3, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Don’t know why this is making me tear up, but it is. I’m so glad for your opportunity to do this race again. I’ve been asked to be in the 3 day this fall. I’m still praying over the decision and seeing if it will work with Big’s schedule out of town. However, if I walk, you’ll be in my heart the entire time. xxxooogretchen

  2. Colorado Writer on March 3, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    What a difference a year (or 3) makes!

  3. KT on March 3, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Jen, I was teary too. Was on my way to tears reading your post, then the scripture on your t-shirt got me. How wonderful to be doing the race with your friends this year. Ours is the day before, Saturday the 10th. (Otherwise, I might have driven up to Philly to walk it on the 11th with my parents and whatever Philadelphia relatives I could talk into doing the race.) I’m so looking forward to it too! We are trying to think of a team name. GI Jen/Jen’s Platoon is so clever! My sister wants “Sweater Puppies” but I don’t think my parents find it very funny….or they don’t get it, I don’t know. I was thinking KT’s TT’s. Or not.Anyway, congrats on registering! I will be cheering you on from here! Katie

  4. The Daily "B" on March 3, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    The scripture got me too. Is this actually on Mothers Day? What great way for the kids to celebrate with you.

  5. Lynilu on March 3, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    It is good to feel every single return to normalcy. It brings particular joy when it is something that is so near and dear.I didn’t feel tears but a surge of joy for you, Jen. 🙂

  6. Becky on March 3, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Love the t-shirt design and verse. Perfect!And I love even more that you will be wearing a survivor shirt! PRAISE THE LORD!I took pictures for our local Race for the Cure event the year I was prego with Judah. It was great to see so many out walking, and so many survivors among them!

  7. Shauna on March 3, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    I got chills when I read this post! And, I admit, a few tears. Tears of sorrow for those who lost and tears of joy for your victory.

  8. His Girl on March 3, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Man, chica… you sure know how to inspire a girl!I never have been able to participate in a race out here- they always do it early Sunday morning… but maybe this year I’ll pack up my excuses and make an effort in honor of the gratitude for the progress that kept you well so far- so i would have the privilege of meeting you 😉

  9. Tanya on March 3, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    I’m doing the walk in St. Louis this June. I signed up on a whim, my company is a corporate sponsor and I wanted to meet people outside of my department. Since then I’ve “met” you and the cause became more than just a good cause. I see its effects on a real person. I admire you and the fact that even through adversity you still trust in God. You’re a great encourage.

  10. Jaime on March 3, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Hey girl!I’ve been doing the Philly race for over 10 years with my mom every mother’s day! If I am in NJ by then (I’m not sure of my finals schedule), I will be there – I’d love to meet you in person! 🙂

  11. Drewpy Drew on March 3, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Never give up. Never surrender.Keep on walking.

  12. Eileen on March 3, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    I love doing the walk. We do it every year, with a group of teachers, due to the high number of staff members in our building that have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It is such a wonderful day, full of love and strength. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I love the shirt, the scripture was perfect. So glad your going to get to walk this year!!XOXOXO

  13. Katybug on March 3, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    You didn’t start with a kleenex warning!!! You KNOW how important those are!!! 😉 I love the team name AND the Scripture you chose. We did the RFTC a few years back, and I spent the entire race wiping away tears. It was the most amazing and moving 5K I’ve ever done. I think it’s a bit cruel to do it on Mothers’ Day. Don’t we spend enough time tearing up on Mothers’ Day? This race could easily flood the city. 😉

  14. Jen on March 4, 2008 at 1:50 am

    Enjoy every single step of your walk Jen!

  15. Monnik on March 4, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    I’m so glad you can walk the race again this year! WTG!I’ll be running it with my daughter. But ours isn’t until October-ish.

  16. Trish on March 4, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    What a sense of community and strength.

  17. SweetAnnee on March 4, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    I’l going to sign up for the Race and hope that chemo allows me to do it.It will be my LAST treatment weekend if all stays on schedule!YIPPEEdeena

  18. drucillastitches on March 4, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Wow, you are such an inspiration! So glad you visited my blog! I love quilting and would love to help you get started. There are so many magazines, books, patterns, etc. out there to help you get started! I began with small wall hangings using scrap pieces of fabric. God Bless You!

  19. Lainey-Paney on March 5, 2008 at 10:56 am

    I LOVE THE SHIRTS!!!!Love ’em, Love ’em, Love ’em!!!!

  20. Sherry ~ Cherie ~ ms. herbes de provence on March 5, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    I feel your excitement, I know that excitement and I say “YIPEEE”

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