This Will Inspire You


I opened this email today and I was so moved I just had to share it with all of you. Yup, the tears were a flowing. You might want to get a tissue.

Melissa writes:

Hi Angela,

I read your blog everyday and I love it. I think it is amazing how dedicated you are to being healthy, both mentally and physically. I also try hard to eat right, exercise and feel happy in my life. I know you are training (and almost ready for) your first half marathon and that you have been reading other people’s stories about their first marathon or half marathon and I want to tell you about my first half marathon experience. :)

In August of last year I was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer know as Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML). Learning that I had cancer at 23 was a huge shock for me, especially since I have always worked hard to take care of my body. I was lucky that my CML was caught early on a random blood test and it can be treated with a daily pill called Gleevec. I have been on Gleevec for almost a year now and I am doing great. Gleevec is a revolutionary new kind of cancer treatment and I am incredibly lucky to be able to take a pill everyday to keep my cancer under control. However, Gleevec is not a cure and because the drug is new there is no research on the long term effectiveness or long term side effects. I try not to think about this and instead I think about this statistic… In 1987 the survival rate for CML was 55%, today it is 95%. Amazing!! Everyday I think about how lucky I am.

As soon as I found out that I was going to be okay I knew I wanted to get involved and help The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I volunteered at a couple of events and then my boyfriend and I decided we were going to run in the Vancouver Half Marathon with Team In Training (a sports training program which raises money for LLS). I started my training in December and I will never forget my first run. It was only 4kms but my hemoglobin was so low and my muscles were so sore (side effects of Gleevec) that 4kms felt like forever. It took me 34 minutes and by the end I was in tears. I was lucky to have an amazing encouraging coach and an awesome boyfriend by my side. I though about quitting after that run but I knew I couldn’t. So every Sunday morning for the next few months we met our team for a 8:00am run in downtown Vancouver. We ran in the rain and the snow and every kilometer was hard. The runs we did during the week were not much easier. But I knew I had to keep going, I was lucky to be alive and even luckier to be able to do this. Despite some training setbacks we ran the half marathon on May 3, 2009 and it was the best day of my life. My sister, my boyfriend and my good friend ran with me and together we raised over $13,000 for LLS. It took us almost 3 hours, but I knew time was not important to me in the race, the most important thing was crossing the finish line. And crossing the finish line was one of the best moments of my life. I attached a picture of us with our medals at the finish line (I am on the left)! Next year my boyfriend and I will run in the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco with Team In Training. I cannot wait.

Half Marathon
Good luck in your half this weekend! You will be great! I am super excited for your Monday blog so I can read all about it!

Team In Training is a great program for marathons and half marathons, if you would more information here is there website.

I also read your post about organ donation and I think it is great that you are now an organ donor! I am too! I don’t know if you have heard of bone marrow/stem cell donation? OneMatch is the national bone marrow and stem cell donation program in Canada and it is great program. Without Gleevec I would have been looking to this registry to find a compatible bone marrow match (unfortunately neither of my sisters are a match) and I would have relied on this for a transplant. Many people with other types of leukemia still require bone marrow / stem cell transplants. If you would like more information about this please check out their website

Thank you for your blog! It definitely helps me to stay positive and healthy!

Thank you Melissa for your email. Thank you for being such a huge inspiration to all of us. I’m so proud of you and so touched by your story. I am definitely going to check out both Team In Training and One Match.

I started racing as a way to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. All of the money I have raised (approx $3,200) has been donated in honour of a family friend named Chris who passed away to cancer in 2008 and anyone whose lives have been touched by cancer in some way. I have also worked with cancer researchers and I know how crucial funding is for their research to even happen. Not one training run or race goes by that I do not think about why I am running and I thank my lucky stars that I am able to do so.

I used to take so much for granted in my life, but with each passing day I try to work on that more and more. Stories like Melissa’s remind us how truly lucky we are and that anything is possible when you set your mind to it.

What inspires you? Do you have any people in your life that serve as role models?


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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Leah @ L4L September 23, 2009

Incredibly touching!


2 Whitney @ Lettuce Love September 23, 2009

That is such a great email! It is nice to be reminded how blessed I am everyday for being healthy because everything can change in an instant. I am inspired by my mom and dad. They are my support, my friends, my everything. They inspire me to be my best.


3 Pam September 23, 2009



4 Jessica @ How Sweet It Is September 23, 2009

Wow that is so touching I have chills. YOU inspire me!


5 Valerie September 23, 2009

What an amazing story! Seeing the strength that others have really inspires me to keep going even when I don’t think I can.
My one sources of inspiration is my mom’s best friend. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago and this prompted me to sign up for the CIBC Run for the Cure this year. It’s a 5K run or 1K walk to support breast cancer research. My mom’s friend has been in the clear for a couple years now but she went through some extremely difficult times. I’m constantly inspired by how she kept going even when she was so weak from chemo. Now she’s planning to open an inn to serve as a retreat for cancer patients and families. It will be somewhere they can go after their treatments to recuperate and meet others that are going through similar things. She’s been working on this for months and months because it means so much to her. She’s an incredible woman – so hardworking and living each day to the fullest. When I start getting tired on my training runs for the 5K, I just think about all the things she’s done and it really helps to keep me going.


6 Andrea September 23, 2009

Thanks for sharing such a lovely story Ange! YOU and a few other bloggers out there have served as one of my inspirations! Thank you for that!


7 Ashley September 23, 2009

Such a great email!! It’s emails like this that make the negative ones seems non-existent. Thanks for sharing Melissa’s story!!

I wrote a whole post last week about role models –

Having them is so important!!


8 Nikki T September 23, 2009

It seems that almost everyone is touched by cancer in some way now-a-days, which is just so sad. I’m also doing the CIBC Run for the Cure this year and when I think about Who I’m Running For I think it’s just for everyone…everyone who has had a mother, sister, grandma, aunt, friend…that has been touched by breast cancer.
Personally, I don’t have an history of breast cancer in my family, but other types have touched us- I feel that it is a worthy cause all around to donate to and to run for.
I’m really looking forward to the run and I’m so excited by how well my fundraising has gone- so far I’ve raised $1460 (only $40 away from my $1500 goal!) and with the help of some friends and family, my team (Team BREAST FRIENDS) has raise over $2000!!! GO TEAM!
Seeing how people overcome what seems like the impossible is really and truly inspiring- thanks for sharing Melissa’s story with us!


9 Jolene September 23, 2009

This story gave me chills, so touching and inspiring.


10 kirsten September 23, 2009

wow! that is such an inspiring story! way to go Melissa! :) Good luck on your half Angela! :)


11 Andrea September 23, 2009

Melissa, thanks for letting Angela share your amazing story with us!


12 Danielle September 23, 2009

Amazing story!
I ran a marathon for LLS in 2001, and they are truly a great organization and a bunch of awesome people. Running for a cause makes the sport even more personally fulfilling. I recommend people get involved with their local Team In Training chapter all the time!


13 Sarah @ The Foodie Diaries September 23, 2009

So inspiring. I’m so humbled and impressed by Melissa’s glowing positivity.


14 Help Meghan Run September 23, 2009

Woohoo Team in Training! :) I am running the Nike Women’s Half next month, and I have raised over $4,200 for that wonderful program. I have had the best experience through Team in Training; I will recommend it in a heartbeat to anyone! The support is just amazing. Plus, you can achieve something you never thought you could. :) I’m running in honor of my best friend’s mother, who has lymphoma, and everyone else out there who can’t run. Thinking of them makes training easy.


15 Melissa September 23, 2009

Angela, thank you so much for sharing my story! You are an inspiration to us all, and I know you are going to do awesome in your run!

And thank you everyone for your wonderful comments! I truly appreciate them.


16 Susan September 23, 2009

Wow, wow! Melissa, that is an amazing story! You are so incredibly inspiring. Not just because you were able to run through your won cancer, but also because you raised SO much money!! Thank you for sharing your story!


17 Courtney September 23, 2009

Such a great story!! When I’m doing my sprint tri this weekend and thinking I might not make it through I’m going to remember this post and think how lucky I am to be healthy and have the ability to do an event like that.

Thanks Angela and Melissa for sharing her story!

Adventures in Tri-ing


18 maria September 23, 2009

This is a very touching e-mail. My husband had cancer as a early teen, so I always appreciate anyone working to find a cure. Thank you!


19 Spotty Prep September 23, 2009

WOW!! You go, Melissa!!! You’re a huge inspiraion to me!


20 Rachel September 23, 2009

Wow, just wow. What inspires me? More and more, just about everything…posts like this, change of colours of the leaves, being able to run when I want to, meeting new people, hearing their amazing stories, getting to know them… really, the list can go on. And most of all, I think I’m thankful for being able to continually recognize more and more things to be inspired about as I allow myself to open up more.


21 Meghan@traveleatlove September 23, 2009

What a touching email! I was proud to be on the Team in Training 2004 Bermuda Marathon team. It was such an experience!
My mom definitely inspires me. She had a very difficult life growing up and turned out to be the most loving, supportive, warmest person I have ever met!


22 Kristin - September 23, 2009

What an great story!

The amazing people in my life inspire me… the everyday people who do small acts of amazingness every day. I truly believe that if we all acted like the change we want to see in the world, the world would be a different place. Encouraging people to be the people they are capable of being, and then watching that happen is one of the most gratifying things you can do. Whether it’s inspiring someone to go for a walk around the block, or raise a few hundred dollars for charity, or go back to school… every big thing starts in a small place with a normal person. :)


23 Amanda September 23, 2009

Thanks for sharing such a touching story.


24 Emily September 23, 2009

That was a really touching story and made me want to go out and run a marathon! It only takes one person’s story to completely change your view of life.


25 MarathonVal September 23, 2009

My parents are my inspiration. They are the most generous, kind hearted people who showed me the importance of volunteering and about serving others.

Also, my students inspire me… they go through such hardships but still manage to make me smile and laugh every day! That’s why I’m trying to raise money for Ceasefire (a Chicago anti-violence program) as my marathon charity this year!


26 Jenny Eastwood September 23, 2009

What a beautiful story.
Melissa is a warrior! I’m so inspired just from her story.
My grandmother passed away from Breast Cancer and it’s always been my dream to do something to fundraise for the Breast Cancer foundation. Maybe I’ll follow in Melissa’s footsteps and run to raise money? I run 5 days a week anyway, I might as well put it to good use.
It’s awesome to see how friendly and open you are to all your readers Angela :)
Thanks for posting this email! Made my day :)


27 WholeBodyLove September 24, 2009

The most inspiring person in my life is a co-worker of mine. She has lived with Non-Hodgekins Lymphoma for 15 years and has to spend every Friday night in the hospital. She loves life and focuses on her family and her health. She attends Zumba classes twice every week and takes care of her grandsons before and after school everyday. She is such an upbeat person that I look forward to my day when I wake up and remember she and I get to work together.


28 shawna September 24, 2009

That is definitely a great story! Very inspiring that such a negative life event can be turned into something so positive.


29 Liz September 24, 2009

Truly an inspiration.


30 Pam (Highway to Health) September 24, 2009

Wow – this is a truly an amazing story. Melissa is an inspiration! It’s amazing and humbling to hear this! Congrats!


31 Eliana September 28, 2009

I had just had a conversation with Marc (my boyfriend of 3 years) on how we, as humans, can be better towards the environment and others. I have always been big about volunteering, donating blood, and helping other people, and especially helping animals. Marc and I had already discussed me donating a kidney but he is not too fond about that idea but…..After reading this entry it hit me. Why don’t I sign up to donate bone marrow? So, I just completed the application process after spending a couple of hours researching the topic. I will be receiving in the mail my “kit” and will be submitting some saliva samples.

I am nervous, have butterflies in my stomach but at the same time I’m happy and excited.

If we can help others why not do it..



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