Returning a Medal

By Bill Davis

A few days ago, I mailed my 2008 St. Jude Marathon registration application. I’m really looking forward to completing the St. Jude Memphis Marathon; it will be my second lifetime marathon. Also, I have to return a medal to my friend. I’ll explain why later.

Completing the St. Jude Marathon is a goal that I set for myself three years ago.

To give you a little background, I had registered for the marathon in 2006. I had been training most of the spring and summer that year in hopes of running and completing what would have been my second marathon. In fact, I had completed a twenty mile run a few weeks prior to the marathon scheduled in early December.

Having turned 50 that year, my doctor scheduled me for a routine colonoscopy the middle of November. When the examination was complete, the colon surgeon indicated he found a mass in my colon and would need to perform a biopsy. The results of the biopsy showed the mass was cancerous. He said any plans to run a marathon would have to be put on hold for the time being.

Very quickly my plans changed from running the St. Jude Memphis Marathon and visiting sites around Memphis, including Beale Street and Graceland, to a visit to the operating room with months of recovery.

The surgery was successful, but because the tumor had invaded my blood system, my oncologist recommended that I undergo six months of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy was difficult, but up until the last couple of months I tried to continue running on a greatly scaled back training regimen. Finally in June 2007, chemotherapy was over. I began to train for a sprint triathlon. I planned to compete with my daughter. I also had hopes of completing the St. Jude Marathon as well. I completed the sprint triathlon as planned. My daughter finished as well. She passed me on the bike portion and I didn’t see her again until the finish line.

Bill DavisIn October 2007, blood test results indicated my CEA levels (a tumor marker) had increased. A CT scan in November validated the reason for the elevated CEA levels. The news was bad. Four cancer legions were found in my liver. Luckily, I was a good candidate for liver surgery, but would have to spend Christmas in a St. Louis hospital recuperating from a liver resection. The surgery was successful, but the recuperating period would be a little longer this time. Also, my oncologist said the recurrence rate was so high he recommended chemotherapy continuing indefinitely. I decided to forgo the recommended treatment.

Months later and with encouragement from friends, I began to run again, slowly at first, but gradually increasing my speed and distance. A couple of weeks ago, I made the decision to try to run the St. Jude Marathon in 2008.

I had trained for the 2006 St. Jude Marathon with a good friend Gary Durchholz. We had plans to take our wives and enjoy the sites of Memphis before running the marathon. Needless to say, I had to cancel. Gary and his wife traveled to Memphis. Gary completed the marathon and received a marathon medal. A couple of weeks after my surgery, Gary came over to see how well I was recuperating. Gary handed me his marathon medal and said he wanted me to keep it because I was unable to make the run. The only requirement was that I would some day run the St. Jude Marathon and receive a medal. At that time, I could return the medal he had given me.

The marathon application has been mailed. It is now time to do some serious marathon training. My goal now is to complete my second lifetime marathon, and return the 2006 medal to my friend.

– Bill

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