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I wonder how many of you have lost someone to cancer.

I used to hear the word and think abstractly of the tragedy of it, but real feelings and emotions never surfaced from the deep.

That changed with the loss of my Aunt Kathy, who was one of my best friends.

Now, when I hear the word, my heart is pained in a way it never was before. It aches for the families who have a vacancy at the dinner table; a birthday to honor but no more candles to light; or a Christmas stocking, hanging empty from the mantle.

My heart breaks for the friend who can never again pick up the phone and hear the voice of that one person who can lift her spirits, or just allow her to vent until they laugh or cry or both. Emails float unanswered into cyberspace, and Facebook turns into a memorial wall. Deep conversations become soliloquies and long walks solo events.

Behind every pink (or blue or teal or white…) ribbon is a wounded heart. Every 5k or race for awareness is filled not with participants, but with battle-scarred people, doing what they can to bring about a cure.

The worst adjectives in the English language cannot begin to describe cancer. And words cannot do justice to my hatred for it, nor can they scratch the surface of my sorrow over it.

Even in this world, where absolutes are frowned upon, I think I can safely say that cancer is an evil thing.

And until war is waged upon that most virulent, most capricious killer, there will continue to be too many empty places at our tables and in our hearts.

**For Francie…

and Kathy…

and Richard Wellman…

and…

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Do you work out when you’re sick?

I suppose the answer depends on what type of exercise you’re doing and what type of sickness you have.  For example, it’s probably not wise to go long distance running when you have the stomach flu.

For some of you, fitness is not just a part of your lifestyle, it’s your job.

So how sick is sick enough to stay in bed?

While training for last year’s marathon, I was never ill. Sure I had knee problems and trouble breathing at times (due to reactive airway disease), but I never had a cold, a flu, or any other of the bountiful springtime viruses. Even during our March trip to Tuscany, when every other person in the Wellman house had stuffy heads and our holiday apartment turned out to be in a cold, damp basement, I was healthy the entire time.

Studies have shown that running builds immunity, but if so, why have I felt so terrible the past three weeks?

Is it allergies, or am I just being lazy?

More than once in the past couple weeks I have gotten up for the day, had a cup of coffee, and then gone directly back to bed.

It is well documented that I am indeed lazy, but the extent of this laziness seems unnatural (even for me). Which leaves me with the question: do I run or rest?

Two weeks ago I ran. Despite going through an entire pack of tissues on an eight-mile run, I stuck with it. Afterwards, I didn’t feel any better or worse than before.

This past weekend, I did a long run of ten miles, and aside from the bothersome runny nose (and the knee problems at the end), I felt strong.

But I am still sick.

And I am SO stinkin’ tired of being sick. 

This has been a hot, dry April, so there’s probably a lot of stuff floating around that would have normally been washed away, but when will this end?

Then I think about people like my aunt, who has cancer.

With cancer, you always hear words like ‘fighting’ or ‘battling,’ and I think that’s because of the physical and emotional toll it takes, and as in war, the soldier has his life on the line. Soldiers face hardship and deprivation as well as physical and emotional stress. The only thing that could possibly keep them going is the fight for life.

I have it easy.

Allergies won’t kill me.

But the question I face every day is: do I work, or do I go back to bed?

The other question is: why am I so whiney?

When I think about people who are actually facing difficult things (like cancer or terrorists), I realize I need to just shut up and color.

There’s a marathon in July that’s not going to wipe my nose for me, and I need to be prepared, whether I bring a box of tissues or not.

So, my plan is a little rest this week, then back to the full training schedule.

The marathon countdown begins the first week of May.

*Editor’s note: the phrase “shut up” is forbidden in the Wellman household, as those are unkind words. However, Mike & Keri have been known to occasionally use the phrase to make each other laugh.