Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sh*t Gets Real on the GLR

I realize that I probably have not been as forthcoming about the challenges of this journey and I'm sure many of you have wondered what the most difficult moments have been. Sidenote: I don’t really like to talk about my feelings...scary! So, that’s why this has been so late in coming.

Let me put it out there: there have been break-downs. There have been days that I wanted to call it a quits a few miles early or moments when I felt pangs of homesickness, but those have been pretty few and far between. I know that there is an end date and a finish line, and those two things alone make it easy to get through each and every day of this adventure. Add to it the fact that I have met incredible people along the way, have my buddy and savior Sydney with me, and have Jill as my inspiration every day, and it’s even easier to keep my eyes on the prize. That said, there are moments that literally stop me, hands on my knees and tears in my eyes when I remember why, exactly, I am running across the country. When that young, beautiful, strong girl with clammy hands, forever stunted fingernails, and razor sharp teeth left this world, we lost someone incredibly special. She was special to so many in very unique ways and the pain of that loss can sometimes overwhelm me at an unexpected moment. 

Especially over the last month, since Sydney's and my routine has become so consistent, (our routine outlined here, in case you missed that post) it has been easy to think less about the reason that I am doing this run: to honor my friend Jill and to beat lung cancer. It is in the moments when I have allowed myself to truly remember Jill and that I am far from being the only one who lost her, that I have become weak in the knees and shed a tear or two ten. These moments are sad, sure, but I'm not trying to elicit sympathy or make you feel sorry for me. Mostly, because I am not the only one who loved and lost her and what often pains me is thinking about how the rest of her loved ones - parents, family, and friends, also go through each day without her. When we lose someone we sometimes catch ourselves remembering that we are sad at inopportune times. That we miss that person immensely, and that we cannot figure out how or why they are simply, physically gone. In many ways I am grateful for these moments because they mean that I can still picture Jill vividly and that my memory of her is still so close to the surface; that while she may be gone, our collective memories of her keep her around -that giggly, curious, active girl we all grew to love so, so much.

In all other aspects, and throughout almost the entire run thus far, I have been pretty positive. I believed that it would all work out and it largely has. I believed that people would be supportive and they have. I believed that it would garner some new attention for lung cancer and it has. But, I have to admit, somewhere in Indiana a terrifying thought occurred to me. It is the only other thing, aside from those overwhelming memories of Jill and our combined loss, that has caused me to cry on the side of the road. Somewhere just before Louisville, KY, my mind was wandering as usual when I suddenly thought, “what if nothing changes after this run? What if no one really pays attention and this run has no impact whatsoever on the future of lung cancer? What if I fail Jill by not making people care enough?” I stopped in my tracks. It was the first time I really allowed myself to think that the Great Lung Run might not "succeed". Luckily, I have incredible people around me who buoyed me back from the bottom and reminded me that we were already reaching new people and providing great education about lung cancer. I have my parents and my extremely wise older sister to thank for quickly reestablishing my positive outlook. 

The point is, difficult things happen in life. We lose people we love, we endure life's challenges, we go through tough times, and sometimes, we just have to cry or scream or whatever. The important thing is that we acknowledge these moments, take a deep breath, and then remember the bigger picture: to get the word out about lung cancer BIG TIME, and to beat lung cancer for everyone.

Jill Costello 12/1/87-6/24/10


  1. Keep pushing Kelcey!! You're an incredible friend and inspiration. I think you even inspired the Giants to rally back from incredible odds!! Making your SF family proud!

    Toby Siegel (friend of Todd & Tenley)

  2. Hi Kelcey,
    You are an me, my husband, two young boys, your family, dear friends...but more importantly to those you don't even know. You not only inspire so many physically by the incredible daily marathons you run. But you do so emotionally and spiritually as well. In a day and age when most people are focussed on themselves, you inspire us all by turning our hearts and minds to something bigger. You ARE making a difference and you ARE making people stand and question. The beautiful part is that your sacrifice and incredible efforts come from love and friendship.
    My cousin - a breast cancer survivor - lost her husband to lung cancer last year. He was only in his early forties, leaving behind an amazing, brave wife and three beautiful young children. When I read your posts and listen to your words about your dear friend Jill, it reminds me of Ian. It reminds me of the stuggles my cousin and the family endured. But like you said, we somehow move on in life, grateful for those moments together - what gifts they will always be.
    It is those moments, that time, those friendships lost, that family, which inspires. The bigger picture, as you put it, is to take that loss and turn it into something powerful, huge, legendary. YOU are doing just that! YOU are inspiring and changing lives...lives you don't even know about.
    So don't doubt yourself for one second. Failure is not even a possibility. You have already succeeded in changing lives, perspectives and understanding. YOU have made people pause and take notice. And Jill would have been we all are.
    Keep running and inspiring,
    Laura (Snyder/Senenko - friend of Tenley)

  3. Very beautifully put, Kelcey!

    But please know that you are making a difference, BIG TIME, and bringing peoples' attention to the issue of lung cancer treatment and prevention.

    We know you can do it and are planning a wonderful party to celebrate your return! We can't wait to welcome you at the end of this incredible journey!

    So, keep plugging away, knowing that we are all rooting for you, especially Jill!

    Sandy Watts
    (Former St. Brendan mom, current SI mom and working with Darby and many others on your return party!)

  4. Here is the event page!!/events/396008570472030/?context=create

  5. I'm so proud of you, Kelcey, for both the run and for this honest, beautiful post. Very unAndersen of you, of course, but beautiful. Xoxo tenley-

  6. Kelcey, you are an amazing woman!

  7. Kelcey, Thank you for this. Life is not all roses and smiles. You are on a journey of a lifetime and for many other's lifetimes. I believe you will make a difference. You are garnering attention to this horrific bastard of a disease. Keep putting yourself out there, this is the only way to raise awareness and consciousness about lung cancer. You are an amazing woman, don't ever forget that. Even if you break down and just want to stop, you have that spirit to keep pushing forward, to take a deep breath and say, OK Let's do this thing, lets Beat Lung Cancer Big Time.

    With an immense amount of respect and admiration, Beth

  8. Kelcey - You ARE making a difference. A beautiful, authentic, immeasurable difference. We need more Kelceys in this world. You, like Jill, are a rarity.
    ~ Kendra (Atkinson) Hoffman

  9. Frankly, I didn't know about lung cancer among non-smokers until you. So you made a difference for me. My mom just became a "Cancer Survivor" in June. In this case Thyroid Cancer. She had a successful surgery this month, probably thanks to someone who increase awareness and helped find a treatment/cure for my mom years ago. I'm glad you're doing the same thing. And yes, I've had that feeling of futility when in a middle of a big endeavor. In all else fails, I'd say S.I.'s prayer of generosity, and it always got me going again.

    It's been fun seeing you run across the country. Keep it up! BTW, you've inspired me to get back on my running regimen -- perhaps there will be another marathon in me over the next 12 months.

    God Bless!!!
    Joel Tomaneng (SI 1989)

  10. You are such an inspiration. I think about you and Jill just about every day. Thinking of you and what you are doing has gotten me out of bed when I am tired, gotten my butt out the door taking Luna on an extra long walk, and countless other small things that just make me enjoy life more and remember that living life is what is important. I am constantly talking about you and what you are doing. I only spent 2 days with you and you have touched my life. I know you have done the same for others. Your strength is just so empowering and contagious. What do I do with my lungs?! I share your story!

  11. You ARE making changes. It may not seem like it, but I guarantee you big things will come out of this run. Keep running, and keep your spirits up. You have friends all across the country.