It’s funny how a moment of crisis causes reality to lose its sharpness and edges.
From the haze I see at the moment I can only pull three facts clearly to the forefront.
-My name is Sarah Lynne Crouch.
-I am 27-years-old.
-There is a tumor growing about 2 inches north of my left kidney.
That’s it. That’s all that seems real at the moment. The rest has fallen into the rather opaque category of the unknown or the not yet known.
-The tumor may or may not be cancerous.
-I will not know the answer until it is removed at the end of the month and biopsied.
-I will run the first two races of my season with the tumor still growing inside me and without knowing the answer.
As silly as it sounds, my first thought upon hearing the T word through the phone was, “Dear God, I hope this doesn’t screw up my season.”
Look I get it, there are more important things than running, but I need running. Sometimes I feel that I need it more than I need children or relationships or the freedom that will come when I leave it.
See, this week, my dear friend and training partner announced her retirement from the sport (you can read her post here).
When Tina called me to tell me her decision she thought I might be angry with her. “Why?” I asked. She told me that I loved running more than anyone she knew and that she feared I wouldn’t understand the desire to give it up in favor of something else, something more important to her.
She was right and wrong. I had trouble understanding, yes, but I also wasn’t angry with her.
I felt for her. I understood her feeling of standing at an intersection of life unable to see more than a few feet in either direction because of the dense fog that is the unknown. I am standing at a different intersection but a crossroad nonetheless.
We talked about her choice to publically announce her reason for leaving the sport, trying to gain back fertility that had been absent for nearly a decade. We talked about what I was going through and whether or not I should write about it. I told her I wasn’t sure if I was brave enough to write this. I didn’t know if I wanted to type it out and open myself to the inevitable pity I despise more than any other human emotion (try finishing dead last in a race and receiving “pity claps”. It’s the worst).
And why on earth should I share anything this personal with anyone other than my immediate family and closest friends?
“Because look at you.” Tina said. “You are a 27-year-old elite athlete and that made you feel invincible. What if someone who reads this falls into that category?”
She’s right. I am, by every possible medical standard, outrageously healthy. And that makes me angry. I feel betrayed by a body that I’ve shown meticulous attention to all of my life. A body I thought I knew. One that would never throw something like this at me. I have the cardiovascular capacity of a freight train. My resting heart rate is so low that it signals the warning beep when tested. I had chia seeds soaked in coconut milk for breakfast for crying out loud.
I am healthy.
And I have a tumor.
Those two things sometimes coincide.
Now. Right now, schedule a check- up. I hadn’t been to the doctor’s office in at least half a decade because I assumed I didn’t need to. Please don’t assume. If there is anything on your body that concerns you or any symptom that you don’t understand, talk to a doctor.
So what now? Well, I’ve named the tumor Tammy. That helps a little.
Tammy the tumor and I will lace up our 361’s and race the Mt. Sac Relays 5K next week and the US Half Marathon Championships at the end of the month.
And then, God willing, I will bid her flippin’ adieu.
I can’t say she is a friend, but I do owe Tammy a newfound appreciation for this colorful, painful, raw phenomenon we call life.