We trudged through the rain on Saturday, a three-generational team in an age-old battle against a scary disease.
Cancer attacks with stealth; its biggest ally is silence, its greatest enemy is knowledge. Races like the 31st annual American Cancer Society Sole Burner 5k, which draws nearly 8,000 participants each year, provide a worthy nemesis for cancer, whose threat grows a little weaker every year.
I like to think cancer rose early Saturday morning, nodded briskly to the biting wind and greeted slanted sleet with a smug smile thinking, “Not today, Gotham. I’ve got this round.”
But the people came in droves, wearing purple wigs and sequined shirts, T-dyed battle gear and funky shoes. They emblazoned soggy race gear proudly with names, the sources of their inspiration — Emma and Anna, Amanda and John, Snowman and the Flakes.
Then, chin up and shoulders squared, some holding hands, they headed into the wind.
I’ve run in the Sole Burner nearly every year; it takes place less than a mile from my house. I even wrote about it last year. This year, given my sister Kathy’s recent diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer, the run took on more meaning for us.
I walked this year with my mom, who will be 75 in January, and my daughter, who is 14. Team Kathy had a couple of runners as well, two generations of Vincents.
Midway through the course, I looked back proudly at the steady stream of participants that stretched a length of College Avenue.
Take that cancer, I thought. Look at the fighters, the survivors, the warriors and the people who love them. They’re headed right for you and they never walk alone.