My daughter came in to this world in a hurry – a little too early, a little too tiny. But she was something to behold, right from the start. Calm and cool, small but mighty. And just as we were getting comfortable – and I was getting back to work after six months of maternity leave – it happened.
It started with an infection, some fevers and before we knew it, my husband and I were meeting with infectious disease specialists, oncologists and pediatric surgeons. After hospital stays and surgeries, nights in both the E.R. and pediatric ICU, we were in the clear. Satya was cancer-free before her first birthday, a tiny little survivor who hadn’t even learned to walk yet.
Sure, my fear and sadness lifted, but try as I did, I couldn’t forget the kids and families we had met during our journey. I talked to moms over coffee at the clinic, cried with dads at 3 a.m. while we were supposed to be sleeping. These people who started as strangers were now my family. And family always sticks together.
So what could I do to lift my family up as they fought the toughest battle of their lives? I knew I needed to raise money, but I didn’t know where to start. I told a friend at Nike I was thinking about running a race, you know, to move my body and help shake some donations loose. Within days, a pair of running shoes were delivered with a simple note: You got this. I laced them up and went for my first run in years. It was awful. I jogged a little, walked a little and ended up at the local bagel store, drowning my tears in carbs and schmear. Then I told my brother my plan, to raise money for the Tomorrows Children’s Fund – located in the hospital where Satya was treated – by running a half marathon.
Fast forward a few months, my brother had secretly rounded up about a dozen friends and family members who recorded a video for me, telling me how much they loved us and pledging to run by my side as we tackled out first ever half marathon together. (My cousin Anjali even trained in India, joining us just a few days before race day. )
And so Satya’s All Stars, a group of family and friends who promised to clock miles for pediatric cancer, was born. We crushed the first half marathon, we all finished, many of us collecting our first ever finisher medals. Since then we’ve run countless other 5Ks and 10Ks – my brother and I even did another half down in Memphis at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – taking strides against pediatric cancer, running to raise money to take a little bit of the financial burden off of the kids and families fighting childhood cancer.
I’m not a runner, but I am a mother. And mothers will run as many miles as they need to protect their families.
If you want to run a race, you have to start with a few steps. Literally. You have to lace up those sneakers, get your butt outside and go. I ran in the rain, in the snow and on the coldest day of 2016. I ran when I was tired, when I was sick and when I was sick and tired of life’s BS. And every single time I run, particularly when I think I can’t run anymore, I repeat the names of the children and families we’ve met and loved – some still fighting, some healthy as can be, one special angel now in heaven – and I keep going. And yes, I still often end my long runs at the bagel store, because life is really too short to skip carbs.
If you would like to support Raakhee, Satya’s All Stars and their commitment to raise money for the Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund, please donate to their next 5K here.