Tuesday, August 12, 2008

An inspiration...

I know that many of you, like me, are following the Olympic games. It's amazing to sit and watch athletes do what they do best. Compete. Now, for those of you who don't follow swimming the way I do (with a sizeable vengance) you may not know all the stories that go along with this particular Olympic team. There is one story in particular that stands alone. Not Michael Phelps quest for Spitz's record, not Coughlin or Piersol's repeat, not the relay that should never have been. There is one story that is such an inspiration, I have to post it here.

Although we CrossFitters are not Olympians, we are athletes. We have goals, we have successes, we have injuries, we have failures, we have good days, we have bad days, and we have days where we just don't want to see the inside of a gym. But, regardless, we are capable of doing what we want to and love to do. Although at times it may be harder than others, our bodies allow us to do what we want to do. Now, imagine that you have trained for 4 years. Imagine that you have pushed as hard and as far as you can. You've FINALLY met your ultimate goal and made the Olympic team. Now imagine that all of a sudden, something changes. You may not be able to do what you love. You may not be able to persue your dreams and goals. Just weeks before the Olympic Trials that is exactly what happened to Eric Shanteau.

After noticing something wasn't right and going to see the doctor, Shanteau discovered at the age of 24 that he had testicular cancer. Four years ago, Shanteau just missed making the team for Athens. He had come so far from four years before, only to have this dropped in his lap. But yet, rather than bemoan the fact that something so tragic had happened, he kept quiet, and asked the doctors to clear him to swim in the trials. He did, and all his hard work paid off as he made the Olympic team. Shanteau's doctors recommended surgery. He recommended they take a hike. He wanted the opportunity to swim. He had them clear him to go to Beijing. As I've read, he has had to consent to weekly testing of his blood levels but so long as they remain high, he will be allowed to compete.

Here is a kid (he's younger than me for Pete's sake, I can say that...) who is faced with something that would scare adults twice his age. Here is someone who has been dealt a hand that few would ever be able to manage. But instead of crying and giving in, he said not me. He is not allowing it to win. He is continuing to train, and to work towards his dreams and goals, all the while knowing what is looming in his future. He has found the ultimate ability and will to persevere. His return to the states will undoubtably bring surgery and treatment. But for now, it doesn't matter. He is going to do what he set out to do. Eric's story is an inspiration to athletes everywhere. No matter how small they may be, never give up on your goals. When things seem at their darkest, when giving up and giving in seem like an option, think of him. He didn't give up, and he didn't give in. Neither should you.


Tanya said...

Cancerous balls aside...(Ok was that insensitive and in poor taste?? Of course!)

I haven't been reading for a few days bc I've been bussaaaayyy...wow drama.

I take the opposite approach. You can elicit this reaction ONLINE??!!?? Think of your potential to create mayhem in real life!!! Talk about an alternate career!!

As for your knees...gravel girl. Find some gravel paths and run those bitches. Cement is the worst surface EVER invented for running purposes.


Tanya said...

And you can moderate comments so you can screen them before they appear.

Now I for one think it would be fun if you would post said vicious emails as blog entries and let us all comment on them for you! That's my twisted idea of fun... :)

Oh and I didn't mean anything mean by the previous balls comment, its just my comment to this entry has nothing to do with balls, cancerous or otherwise. Well maybe it does but then wives and SO's may get angry at me for discussing balls that they think may belong to them. Follow me?? Not that we as females would ever want balls. Too much itching if you ask me.

The Wigan Crossfitter said...

I was somewhat taken aback last week when I was at the crossfit centre. Karl called me an 'athlete'.

Athletes are people that I greatly admire. I admire their dedication, commitment and tenacity.

I've really enjoyed watching the Olympics this year. I've watched sports I had little knowledge of but hats off to those competitors.

Next week I will be cheering on Kelly Southerton (one of my favourite athletes) in the heptathalon.

Justa said...

The difference between winners and losers is most often determined by levels of determination. Hats off to this Olympian...and the rest of them as well.

Good thing to keep in mind, Katie. Thanks!

georgia said...

Being the big oncology dork that I am, while I find this story uplifting I also find it somewhat dangerous. What if he hadn't been well enough to compete? Would he have been deemed to have been less of an athlete or have less heart?

It like using the term "cancer survivor." Would you consider someone who expires from cancer as less of a fighter than someone who goes into remission? Do you really think that they didn't want to beat their cancer? That they wanted to die? No, of course not. No one would say that (unless they are a big fat meanie who likes to kick puppies and steal candy from babies).

This is a great and inspirational story and I'm really happy that you shared it. I just, again as an oncology community dork, get caught up in the language and the social effects it has on our cancer patients and their families. Sorry if that all came across as mean...I'm just on the "let's try to give you as much extra time as possible" team as opposed to the "you can beat it, be a warrior" team when it comes to terminal illness, especially cancer.