I chose to join Team LUNGevity in honor of my mother. My mom was diagnosed with stage I lung cancer in 2010. She was never much of a smoker, maybe recreational when we were younger. They said her cancer may have been caused by environmental factors, such as inhaling aerosols in the shop where she worked.
She underwent surgery and recovery. Unfortunately, her cancer came back 2 years later. From that point on, she fought for her life, going through chemo treatments, medication, and other medical conditions that arose along the way. She passed away in June 2015, only 3 months before I married my husband.
In 2017, I was asked by a close friend to enter the Chicago Marathon lottery, not knowing if I would be chosen. I was not chosen, but I found out that I could fundraise to compete; I knew exactly which one I wanted to be a part of: LUNGevity Foundation.
I wanted to run to honor my mom’s memory. I knew I had amazing friends and family that would easily cover the $1,500 fundraising entry fee, but when they knew what the cause was for and had seen all the hard work I put in, they surprised me with an even higher fundraising total! My aunt Barbie, my mother’s sister, and her husband, Uncle Ron, we’re my biggest contributors, and I couldn’t be more appreciative.
This was going to be my third marathon, but it had been 6 years since I had ran my last one, and I knew I would have to train longer and harder than previous races. I started running with Runners World in Tulsa as part of their running program. On our first day of training, I didn’t really know anyone and I felt pretty out of place and out of shape. I had my husband by my side, though. We ran that first run and I never looked back.
I had set out a goal not only for my fundraising but for my time. During training, I set my personal goal to finish the marathon in four hours. This would be 30 minutes faster than my last marathon in 2012, but I had a feeling I could hit it.
Race day came and I was so proud to wear the Team LUNGevity shirt. I knew I was helping others and making a difference by fundraising and running. I couldn’t have been more proud. I knew this day was going to be an emotional one. I told everyone a goal I would love to hit, but I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t because I knew I was doing this for something greater. This race wasn’t for me; it was for my mom. I just needed to finish.
I had several emotions running throughout me on race day. What kept me going was the conversations I had with my mom on and off. Ten miles in I told her we’ve got 16.2 left, stay strong. Miles just flew by and once I hit 20 miles, I knew I could finish strong. I told her we’re not done yet and we’ve still got work to do. I knew, because of her, I finished without a doubt that I could do it.
I finished in a 4:02, 28 minutes faster than my last one. Once I crossed that finish line, I was overcome with even more emotions because I had such great support and she pushed all the way through. I was ecstatic and ready to celebrate with my husband and friends that made the trip to Chicago with us.
This marathon has definitely been the most rewarding one yet. Being a part of a team and being able to meet some of the other runners that have survived lung cancer was amazing. I hope that I can help save lives with the money I raised, help educate people that lung cancer doesn’t just impact those people that smoke, and hopefully help find new ways to treat and earlier diagnoses.
My mom was taken from us too soon. I know she had several more amazing years in her and several more lives to touch. I can help by educating people about health and wellness, not only in my profession, but in daily life. I can encourage them to take care of themselves: eat right, and exercise. Most importantly, get annual check-ups done to catch any issue early. This is a way I can help my mom’s memory live on.
Lacey Woodring runs with Team LUNGevity in memory of her mother. She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband.