Our 15-year-old daughter ran a 3-mile race on Sunday. It may just as well have been a marathon.
Kristen has been plagued by joint pain the last few years. She's also suffered from a seizure disorder (which as far as we know has not returned since leaving the house), food intolerances, peripheral neuropathy, and anxiety. Heightened anxiety is one of the many emotional manifestations of a toxic exposure. And one of the most crippling.
The prefrontal cortex is the center for emotional and executive function. When attacked, it leaves its victim with an improper ability to balance emotions. This often results in mood disorders, high irritability, aggression, impulsivity, and more.
Kristen had anxiety when she came up with the idea for the race. But she registered anyway.
She also had severe ankle pain. Her joint pain has moved from her hips and knees to her right ankle. Running seemed out of the question. But with the excitement of 12,000 people, the media, and the beautiful Arizona weather, Kristen started running. And kept running. And crossed the finish line 30 minutes later.
I walked the course. And found myself reflecting. And dreaming.
The race was Tucson's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I thought about my mom and her successful battle with breast cancer in 1975. I thought about the lives of the survivors, the ones wearing the dark pink shirts. I was inspired to keep climbing this ever-present mountain of ours.
I also imagined a race, or a walk, or a march. With thousands of men, women, and children. Whose lives have been impacted by toxic mold. Thousands of people connected by the devastation of lost possessions and homes, financial hardship, disabling brain injuries, cancer, digestive disorders, respiratory illness, hormonal disruption, liver dysfunction, and autoimmune disease.
I pictured us walking and running, together, raising awareness and helping others connect their environment with their health.
One day, perhaps.
Not now. I have a race of my own to run. I have obstacles to face. But I also have a victory to celebrate—a teenage girl who kept climbing, refused to give in to other voices, and proved to herself that sometimes obstacles make us stronger.