Kenneth L Abbott, MD, FACP  |  10/31/2022

Hope and Joy in the Brisk October Air

Over the past several decades, as I posted last week, community foot races have become a standard part of breast cancer awareness and fundraising. Enthusiastic walkers and runners festooned in pink are now as much a part of October as falling leaves, an invigorating snap in the morning air, baseball playoffs, and pumpkin spice everything. Calvert and southern Maryland are no different. Since 2010, Calvert Health has organized an annual sponsored 5K race, the proceeds of which support the Sheldon E. Goldberg Breast Center in Prince Frederick, ground zero for the medical center’s multidisciplinary fight on behalf of breast cancer patients. But the race is much more than a way to raise funds. It manifests—mostly in pink—the spirit of dedication to win once and for all the victory against breast cancer, the love and support for survivors of the disease in all phases of their personal journeys, and the tender memory of those who have fallen in the fight but are not forgotten.

Saturday, October 15, 2022, was no different in any of these regards. Postponement forced by uncertainties posed by the effects of Hurricane Ian pushed the date back by two weeks. But no mere hurricane could dampen the spirit of the more than 300 participants, nor could it blow anyone off course. The day dawned bright and clear, even if decidedly nippy, especially if one’s clothing better suited running than keeping warm. But stretches and warm-ups quickly helped dispel the seasonal chill, and when the start sounded at 8:30 and hundreds of pairs of feet scampered or strode through the timing gate the cold became an afterthought.

Although never much of an outdoor runner, I am a dedicated treadmiller. In the lead-up to this year’s race, I decided it was past time for me to toss my sneakers into the ring. I signed up for my first-ever 5K race, with two goals: to finish the course and to not disgrace myself in the process. A third goal, I suppose, was not to die in the effort. Since you are reading this post, I succeeded in this last, and I finished the race with a respectable time and no disgrace. Everyone who came out, either to run or walk or in support of the effort, exuded cheer, optimism, enthusiasm, and good will. There may have been a few tears shed, but I saw no frowns anywhere.

So, God willing, I’ll be back next October, hoping to build on this year’s experience, and I invite everyone in the community to consider doing the same.

Nine years ago, Mary Lingebach, who at the time provided navigation services to patients being cared for at the Breast Center, described the “positive, uplifting experience for everyone involved.” She said, “There’s a palpable sense of hope and joy in the air.” How remarkable that an event focused on a disease with the power to devastate the lives of multiplied thousands of persons has banished gloom and defeat from brilliant October skies.
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