Oct 10

Cancer picked the fight, we just answered the call

On February 25th, 2011, I lost my mom to lung cancer. She was 68 years old. Although my heart ached, I knew she was no longer suffering and at peace. In a blink of an eye, I can still picture my last moments with her; holding her hand, rubbing her arm and repeating, “I’m here momma, I love you.”

On my visit months earlier, the doctor simply stated, “You have Stage IV Lung Cancer, and it is inoperable. We can either discuss treatment options or we can try to keep you comfortable”, as the air was quietly sucked from the room. She chose chemo “for her kids”. But the cancer spread so quickly and one chemo treatment proved to be too much.

A few weeks before her passing, I signed up to run the Rock N Roll Savannah Inaugural Marathon with DetermiNation in her honor. Now, it would be in her memory. Training helped me mourn her passing. I finished many long training runs having ugly cried for most of the miles. However, I was able to celebrate her life on race day with a 27-minute PR.

Through the tears I found her strength. Through the miles I continued to celebrate her spirit.

Charlotte DetermiNation Team

Charlotte DetermiNation Team

My passion is simple; I want to continue to DO something, I want to continue to fight in her memory. I do not want any other family to ever have to sit through a meeting with their oncologist plainly stating that there is no hope. To me, there IS hope that we can find a cure for cancer. That’s why I have again joined forces with DetermiNation, but this year I’m coaching the DetermiNation-Charlotte team.

We have walk stars, run/walkers and runners that have one common goal. We want to put an end to cancer. We went into this season with one thought; what if it is the dollars they raise that finds the cure. I’m continually amazed and inspired by the team’s fundraising, training and enthusiasm every single week. Having once been an athlete on a virtual team, and now actually having like-minded individuals meeting every Saturday for training, I continue to be inspired & more passionate about this cause.

In one of my weekly emails to the team, I included this sentence:

You WILL NOT regret any of the early mornings, muscle aches and pains that go into endurance training when you are standing in that starting corral with the names of your loved ones on your singlet.

Coach Tom

I remind them to stay focused. I remind them that we are stronger as a group. I remind them that they’ve endured 16+ weeks of training, fundraising and stepping outside their comfort zone. They’ve earned their spot in the starting corral for Marine Corp Marathon and RnR Savannah Half and Full Marathon. It’s their chance to enjoy their moment, celebrate their loved ones still fighting and continue to fight in the memory of their parent, spouse, aunt, uncle, sister, brother and friend. The fight goes on, because I know my mom wouldn’t have it any other way.

Cancer picked the fight, we just answered the call.


To support Tom and his wife in their fight against cancer, visit their DetermiNation page.


About the author

Tom Patania

Tom Patania is a passionate runner who likes to crush cancer in his spare time. This Michigan native now lives near Charlotte, NC, with his wife and two dogs. He’s an avid runner and is currently coaching the ACS-DetermiNation Charlotte team as they prepare for their cancer-crushing assault at the Marine Corp Marathon and RnR Savannah. Follow him on Twitter @unhurriedrunner.

Permanent link to this article: http://determinators.org/2012/10/cancer-picked-the-fight-we-just-answered-the-call/


Skip to comment form

  1. Anna

    Tom, This is one of those posts I’m bookmarking to read at 5am when it’s 20F in Chicago and I just don’t “feel” like running. It’s one of those posts that makes me feel like boxing gloves come with the blue singlet. Also, bonus points for the photo of beer. I sincerely thank you for running and inspiring others to continue the fight. THANK YOU TOM!!!!!!

    1. Tom Patania

      @Anna: Thank you for your kind words Anna!

  2. Adrian

    Thanks so much for this awesome story Tom. I live in Chicago, but its so great to hear that DetermiNation is expanding across North America and that you are taking on the task of coaching new runners and cancer fighters in North Carolina!

    Keep up the good work

    1. Tom Patania

      @Adrian: Thanks Adrian, it’s been a great inaugural season and I’m looking forward to helping train a new batch of cancer crushers for RnR New Orleans.

  3. Stacy Eichbauer-Servay

    I have know Tom since middle school and he still has that same upbeat let’s kick some butt and have fun doing it attitude. Tommy, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your Mom. She is smiling down now at you and the wonderful man you have become and the fantastic things you are doing to attempt to find a cure for such a horrible heartwrenching disease. I myself have lost someone very dear to me last year to cancer. My cousin, who was the same age as my oldest son (21) lost his long fought battle with osteosarcoma. He was diagnosed when he was 12 and fought long and hard. He always had the best attitude, even after all the countless surgeries to remove his right leg from the knee down and replaced the bone with titanium so he could have a “normal” life, to having one of his lung lobes removed once it spread, to the 15 other surgeries to remove tumors, or bone. He finally had enough and told my Aunt and Uncle that he was tired and wanted to know if it was ok with them if he quit fighting. Can you imagine your 21 year old kid who has been sick since he was 12, never having a normal teenage experience, prom, marching band, girlfriends. tell you they were done and did you mind? I can’t imagine…It was the hardest thing my whole family has had to go through, if any positive came from this experience it was because Bryan made it positive. We are all so much closer and kinder to one another. Anyway, I have had many health issues (kidney) over the last 15 years but now have been much healthier and I am ready to get back to exercise and competing again. You have inspired me to do something positive and I want to thank you for that. I wish you and your team much success and hope the running continues to keep you close to your Mom. Take care!

    1. Tom Patania

      @Stacy Eichbauer-Servay: Thank you for sharing your story Stacy, hopefully the money we raise will find a cure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eight − 7 =