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TIaRT: The Biggest Transition of My Life.

Normally, I don’t post on the Runner’s Lounge, Take it and Run Thursday accounts, but this one really struck a chord.

I share a story that I never though would be my life. I never imagined any of the things in my life would happen to me, and that I would be ‘that girl’, but through it all running has helped me grow and reflect on so many different aspects of my life, that without it, I don’t even know where I would be today. I begin with a background.

My sophomore year of high school, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was on and off treatment including chemotherapy and radiation all throughout my high school and beginning of my college years. She was never horribly sick, but she was tired, and took many more naps and cut back on her 40 hour work weeks volunteering at the Christian school I went to growing up. If any of you met my mom, you would know instantly that she was a fighter. She was so stubborn and she bullied the cancer to have her life stay as consistent as it was before she was diagnosed.

I went to many doctor appointments with her, and once I moved away to college, we became very close. This time really allowed me to see the core of my mom, the person she was, her beliefs, her thoughts, and her wishes and it made me see who I wanted to become.

In March of 2006, the doctor came back after some testing and told her and my father that she had three to six months to live. Three weeks later she passed away. I spent those last three weeks in an abyss of artificial smiles and complete confusion. I had no idea what was happening, or how I would handle everything, and once the reality hit, she was already gone.

I was exhaustively lost after that happened. I had been running every year in high school and off and on in college. I completely stopped running. I stopped functioning. I couldn’t get one foot to go in front of the other, none the less make my legs follow. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. Everything had lost flavor and I had lost interest in life.

One day, I decided that it was time that I stop wallowing in my confused state, and get my life back together. I was still going to school at the time, and decided that I had to finish out the semester, after dropping one class. I finished my 18 units, but I was still very lost.

I felt like I didn’t want to run because it was something I did when my mom was alive. Though I absolutely hated her at my cross country races, and I hated her watching me run track, and even hated her watching me sit the bench while on the soccer team, I wanted her there for me. I wanted to know she would be there when I got home from my run. I wanted to see her again and I felt like running was something that I couldn’t do again, it wasn’t apart of me anymore.

It came to me one morning. I needed it. I wanted it still. I wanted the consistency, and I wanted the control. This was when I went out once again, and found the comfort of the road under my feet. The first run I completed after she passed was a short three miler, and once I got under the cover of the brush around me, I broke down and just cried as I ran, but nothing had ever felt so good. I had consistency again, I had a path in front of me, and I had something that no one could ever take away from me.

I had breath in my lungs and with tears streaming down my cheeks, I just ran. I allowed myself to hurt, and to feel again, and I allowed myself to think. To think about the changes, about the future. It was a time of thinking. After that run, I didn’t run again for a while, life got in the way, but since then, I have realized that running through the hardest times in your life, gives you something that you control. You can do it. You can come back to it. You can make a change, but you have to choose too.

So granted, I also went to counseling, and did a lot of prayer during this time, obviously, but I know, without running the biggest transition of my life wouldn’t have led me to the story I have today, to the outlook I have today, or the attitude I have today. So many people tell me they are so sorry, and I am sorry too, but I can’t change that, and I am lucky that I got to see a great example of what I want to become one day, and learn so many life lessons at such a young age.

Sometimes I look back at my short life thus far, and think about things that could have changed, or could be different, but I know that God had this all happen for a reason, so I got it to take it and run with it. :)


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  • Reply BeachRunner

    What a beautiful and touching post, Danica. Your Mom’s memory, fighting spirit and toughness is with you and you prove it was her gift to you on every run you take. She would be so proud of the strong woman you have become. Bravo. Keep on running strong!

    November 6, 2008 at 11:22 am
  • Reply J

    Definitely an emotional post but thanks for sharing. It is nice to see that others have gotten through tough times by running. Without running I don’t think any of us would be who we are today. Good luck with everything!!

    November 6, 2008 at 11:24 am
  • Reply Marlene

    Thanks for sharing your story, Danica. I can only imagine how difficult some of those times were, but I can see you’ve come out of it as a strong young woman. Your Mom would be proud. Keep running!

    November 6, 2008 at 11:37 am
  • Reply audgepodge

    What a brave post, Danica. I love how running helped you find your strength to cope with such a difficult time. I agree with the others – I’m sure you’ve made your mom proud :)

    November 6, 2008 at 11:46 am
  • Reply Tom@RunnersLounge

    Wow, what a powerful post!

    You have found in running an amazing ability to draw strength.

    You also have a gift for expression and your words are very moving:

    “This was when I went out once again, and found the comfort of the road under my feet.”


    “I had consistency again, I had a path in front of me, and I had something that no one could ever take away from me.

    Thank you.

    November 6, 2008 at 11:53 am
  • Reply Lacey Nicole

    This is so hard to read, because I can’t imagine going through it and also because my mom had breast cancer, too. I was in middle school and my dad and my mom really tried to keep all of us kids from knowing anything about what was going on b/c they thought they were protecting us. I wish I could go back and go with my mom to the doctors as scary as it must have been. I’m so blessed that she got through it and that she is still with me today. I really thank you for your post and think it is just really heavy to hold on to and must really make you who you are today. I don’t know what else to say, just all of my heart goes out to you.

    November 6, 2008 at 12:06 pm
  • Reply Marcy

    Ooohhh Danica thank you for sharing this with us. It made me teary. I can only imagine . . .especially since I have children of my own.
    I’m certain your Mom is proud of you :-)

    November 6, 2008 at 12:29 pm
  • Reply RazZDoodle

    Very powerful post! Thanks for sharing that.

    November 6, 2008 at 12:30 pm
  • Reply Mojito Maven

    WOW. That was a very powerful post!!! I cannot even imagine what that must have been like (and is still like) for you. *HUGS*

    November 6, 2008 at 12:42 pm
  • Reply *aron*

    wow danica… thank you so much for sharing your story. that was such a moving post, i am sitting here with tear filled eyes. your mom is so proud of you now :) keep on running!!

    November 6, 2008 at 12:54 pm
  • Reply The Happy Runner

    I have tear filled eyes, too!

    This is such a terrific thing to be able to say about your mom: “I am lucky that I got to see a great example of what I want to become one day” You will!

    November 6, 2008 at 1:18 pm
  • Reply LyndsAU

    This brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for what you had to go through (and still do) with losing your mom. As someone who is very close and best friends with her mom too, I can’t imagine what that tragedy was like. You are a brave person to talk about it. Thank you for sharing. Her memory will always stay alive through you!

    November 6, 2008 at 1:26 pm
  • Reply shannon

    I’m so moved by your story.. thank you so much for sharing this. It is truly inspiring to read how running helped you push through one of the toughest times in your life. I think so many people can relate to the strength they find in running. Your mother’s spirit will always be running right along side you cheering you on!

    November 6, 2008 at 1:32 pm
  • Reply joyRuN

    Thank you for sharing, Danica. I’m glad you had a chance to get closer to your mom when you started college.

    November 6, 2008 at 1:40 pm
  • Reply P.O.M.

    Thank you for sharing. I bet your mom would be so proud of the woman you are becoming! You’re awesome.

    November 6, 2008 at 4:01 pm
  • Reply lilrunner N.D.

    This is a beautiful story and tribute to your mom – I’m so sorry that you lost her so quickly, and so young.

    November 6, 2008 at 7:48 pm
  • Reply ECrunnergirl

    My mom is my best friend and biggest fan…..and really my entire family….. so I can not imagine life without her.

    That was an awesome post and story….and your strength and your mother’s strength is sooo inspiring. I am sorry for your loss at such a young age……

    Running has saved me in so many ways too. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and touching story :)

    November 6, 2008 at 9:22 pm
  • Reply Run For Life

    Thanks for sharing that.

    November 6, 2008 at 9:48 pm
  • Reply DatabaseDiva

    I was starting to hold my breath before I finished the second paragraph. I was a senior in high school when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. She died before graduation. I lost my sister to breast cancer in 2001. I know that lost feeling all too well. And yet, life goes on, and we must go on, too.

    November 6, 2008 at 10:33 pm
  • Reply Julianne

    Oh Danica… I finished reading your post with tears in my eyes and I’m a more than a bit choked up. I can’t imagine losing my mother. You mentioned before that you lost your mom to breast cancer but your story today is just so moving and touched me deeply. Thank you for sharing your story with us in such a mature and beautiful way. Can I give you a big hug?? *big hug*

    November 6, 2008 at 11:29 pm
  • Reply MizFit

    thank you for sharing your story with us.
    it so touched me and judging my the comments MANYMANY others.

    and the line I GOT TO TAKE IT AND RUN WITH IT?


    November 7, 2008 at 4:18 am
  • Reply Girl on Top

    Great post! You are such a strong person!

    November 7, 2008 at 8:50 am
  • Reply Burger

    Thank you for sharing Danica. I too lost a parent (my father) about 4 years ago. Thankfully like yourself, I found a positive way to channel my grief and anger in running.

    One foot in front of the other. Day after day. Stay strong, and don’t forget to smile along the way.

    November 7, 2008 at 1:21 pm
  • Reply Diana

    I started reading your blog through “I signed up for this?” and this was a very nice post dedicated to your Mom. My Mom died in 2000-funny, she battled cancer 3 times in her life, colon, breast and cervical, made it through them all but eventually died from a broken heart. Her and my Dad were going to retire to a place up north and live happily ever after. My Dad was diagnosed in 1993 w/lung cancer which mets to his liver and brain and within 6 months of diagnosis-he was gone. My Mom made it for 7 years after that hard day. I had my son 2 years after my Dad died and once he grew up and no longer needed “grandma” to babysit, she eventually just gave up due to missing my Dad sooo much that on the eve of what would have been their wedding anniversary-we let her go peacefully to him. I then felt completely LOST. SHIT, now I’M the grown up! I didn’t want that-I wanted my Mom to always be there as she was while I was growing up (she never worked) and to not have her there to call sucked. I got huge over the years and one day I seen an image of myself in the TV reflection which totally was her. She was very obese and and that’s where I was headed–fast. I got my shit together and now this past summer I did my first triathlon! I do it because I want to be here with my son for as long as possible. Now I just enjoy my healthy and happy lifestyle soooo much, I will never give it up. I plan to go my first 1/2 marathon on May 17th! I feel fantastic and I often think of both my parents-knowing that they are both very proud of me from above! Running was hard for me, never thought I would get the knack, now I love it. I love my life, I love my family. The best things in life are right in front of me everyday!

    November 7, 2008 at 1:45 pm
  • Reply Marci

    What a beautiful post, and a great tribute to your mother. Running is so much more than just exercise, it is the glue that allows the transition to exist. Thank You so much for sharing this, it is one of the most touching posts I have read in awhile.

    November 7, 2008 at 7:11 pm
  • Reply Marathon Maritza

    thank you for sharing your story with all of us. I have no doubt your mom is proud of you and this is such a lovely tribute to her. I admire your strength :)

    November 9, 2008 at 7:07 am
  • Reply Megan and Chris

    You are such a beautiful writer and person, Danica. Your ability to make lemonade out of horribly bitter lemons is an inspiration and everyone who knows you is inspired by you and the memory of your Mom. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

    November 10, 2008 at 10:34 am
  • Reply j.

    What an incredibly wonderful perspective on life, love and living. Thanks so much for sharing that with all of us.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:22 pm
  • Reply Legallyblondemel

    Thank you for sharing. What perspective you have on what is surely a very difficult loss.

    November 11, 2008 at 9:04 am
  • Reply Wearing Mascara

    Hey girl,

    I just read this tonight because I found your blog way past when you wrote this. I want to say that this post moved me and I am even more motivated to run. Honestly, I come to your blog at random times – not really when you have a new post – to motivate myself to get out there and run.

    Thank you for having such a great and powerful blog :-)


    March 2, 2009 at 10:25 pm
  • Reply S

    I just happened upon your blog tonight and have been reading all your amazing entries. First off I lost my mom when I was 19 to colon cancer. So I know how hard it is to put your feet on the ground and keep going. And second of all I am training in Louisville Ky with “Team in Training” for the Rock and Roll Marathon in San Diego. I however will be walking in memory of “Chloe Newman” my friends 7 year old daughter that pasted away in June 2008 after 39 months of fighting Leukemia.

    March 12, 2009 at 7:32 pm
  • Reply Rachael

    Danica, this post touched my heart so much. When I first came across your blog and saw your profile picture I felt impressed because I think that running takes so much discipline and commitment but to understand that why behind it…that makes is powerful. I am going through some challenges in my life right now and I feel like you set such an inspiring example of how to push through those times by channeling your energy in positive ways. You are a beautiful woman with incredible strength and courage. God bless you!

    March 23, 2009 at 3:42 am
  • Reply The Shabby Princess

    I lost my mother in a freak accident when I was a freshman in college, so, I kinda sorta semi understand your feelings. I am so sorry for your loss, as I know how painful that is. I’m glad you were able to “re-find” running. After I lost my mom I put all my energy into working out, running, controlling something. It backfired a bit, but, now, years later, I think I’ve found a balance.

    Thank you for sharing.

    April 2, 2009 at 1:32 pm
  • Reply emily_howard

    I recently found your blog and enjoy reading about your races, you inspire me. I sat here crying as I read this post…I cannot even imagine something like thise. I am sure your mom would be so proud of you!

    April 8, 2009 at 10:01 am
  • Reply Nicole

    What a touching post Danica. I admire your strength and courage to share such a story. Your Mom would be so very proud to call you her daughter! Thanks for sharing!

    April 15, 2009 at 4:38 pm
  • Reply Badgergirl

    An incredibly emotional post, but thanks for sharing. I’m sure your Mom is proud of you.

    May 15, 2009 at 7:20 pm
  • Reply Kelly's runner


    I have been reading some of your posts and found this one very touching.

    I lost someone I loved very much last year to cancer. I remember going for a short run the day that Kelly died and crying through the entire run.

    I love the final comment about taking what God has given you and running with it.

    Thanks for sharing.


    May 26, 2009 at 10:15 pm
  • Reply Mrs. G.I Joe

    I’m so glad I found this post Danica..Its very touching and I feel like I know you so much better for it…What an aweful thing to go through and I had no idea. I knew that your mom had passed away and obviously thats hard for anyone, but so glad you found the strength to to get back on that road and run, get your life back…Your such an amazing person and I definitely admire everything I know of you so far!

    May 28, 2009 at 12:12 pm
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    October 1, 2009 at 7:39 am
  • Reply Ian

    Just read this Danica and it had me weeping like a child. I too have lost people close to me. My Dad in feb 2004, my Grandma at the end of 2004 and my Grandfather in 2005. I have been there, running with tears in my eyes and my reasons for running are very similar to yours. It is a fantastic catharsis for me. I draw strength from it not only physically but emotionally. We never get over losing our loved ones but we gradually come to accept that they are gone. Learning to cope with loss and realising that for us all life is very short and precious is what makes us who we are – we become more resilient with life’s knocks I think. It makes me realise that we should live every day to the fullest.
    Thanks for sharing, your Mom is very proud of your achievements I am sure.
    This song was very poignant for me while I was going through my losses.
    Best wishes and a hug from me.

    October 19, 2009 at 9:01 am
  • Reply RhodeyGirl

    You are so brave to share your story. Thank you.

    I also lost my mom to cancer. It was 3 weeks into my freshman year of college, and I feel like I could have written this post.

    Even after all this time, it feels good to know I am not alone in losing my mom, and we can all be strong together.

    November 10, 2009 at 12:12 pm
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    November 12, 2009 at 10:38 am
  • Reply karen

    you are a very brave courageous and inspiring young and beautiful young lady!!!!!!!!! thank you for your beautiful words and know your strenghth is being passed on to all of us who are needing your light my father has cancer and it is 1 of the most difficult journeys a family can make you have given HOPE and I send you heaps of love and blessings on your wonderful life path I tink you are a gifted young lady and the stars await you Namaste xx

    December 7, 2009 at 3:44 am
  • Reply aperez467

    This was touching and a huge motivation. It is truly evident that, even though we don’t know why God chooses certain paths for people, He always has an ultimate goal for us to look forward to. It may not make sense but our minds are too small to fathom His eternal purpose for us. Plus, He used your mother in a great way and now He’s using you the same way too. You’re touching people through your running…

    So, keep going and God bless you in your journey!

    January 14, 2010 at 1:24 pm
  • Reply Rich Cruse

    Thank you for sharing your story. You are special woman and I know your Mom would be proud.


    May 9, 2010 at 10:59 am
  • Reply ALB8986

    thanks for that.. im a runner and a old one at that (49).. i lost my mom this past jan to lung cancer.. its been hard to start back runnin but i’m now training for a half again! thx for that encouragement from a Young and Wise Runner!

    August 11, 2010 at 9:34 pm
  • Reply Nelly

    A very powerful post. Your Mom would be proud with how you handled everything and your response. Running can be very thearapeutic. I bet you think about her everytime you cross the finish line of a race.

    November 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm
  • Reply Amy

    I’m totally crying sitting here reading this. What an incredible testament to the amazing person your mother raised that you were able to fight through your grief and keep living…and running. So touched by your story!

    May 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm
  • Reply Jenna

    My mom passed away from cancer my sophomore year of high school, so this story really touched me. I was never into running until now (10 years later), but your last sentence really touched me…”God had this all happen for a reason, so I got to take it and run with it.” Thanks for sharing!

    June 24, 2011 at 10:32 pm
  • Reply Chris

    Great story. Thanks for sharing!

    July 1, 2011 at 7:49 pm
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