Cancer is Like a Horse Race


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About one year ago I decided I needed a motto. For some reason I felt as though I should have one, and so began my search. As corny as it is, I actually looked up quotes on the internet in hopes of finding one. Nothing seemed right. What I was unaware of was that a motto isn’t just a statement or quote you may like. It’s something that helps you through tough times and keeps you motivated. A motto has to work for you. It has to help you. Today I can finally say that I have found mine: Do things that make you uncomfortable.

This certainly is not the mecca of all mottos and it is not something I immediately thought I would pick up, but I have found that it is an extreme motivational tool that helps me do things I’m afraid to do. On the surface, many people are unaware that I am painfully shy. I was a sophomore in high school before I would even walk into a gas station by myself, and last year I finally began phoning in pizza orders. Today, however, I made a breakthrough. I got a job as a mutuel teller at the horse races my town hosts every summer. Today was my first day, and I spoke to about 200 different strangers. At first I was terrified and extremely uncomfortable. I kept repeating my motto and forced myself to get over my issues. As it turns out, I discovered that I am outgoing. I was chatting with people I had never seen before and actually enjoying myself. I did what made me uncomfortable and got over my fear.

As I reflected on this great self-discovery, I realized something even greater. Today I watched as the horses went galloping by, mud flying through the air behind them, and I saw courage in their eyes. Then I’d look at the jockeys on their backs and I saw a hope and deeply rooted trust in the animals that carried them. I thought about my mom and how I watched her go through her chemo treatments. I thought about how much it took out of her and how hard she fought for each day. I also thought about my family and the work we put into her recovery. This concept, I have found, is not much different than a horse race. A race horse and jockey are a team. So are a cancer patient and his or her family. When all is said and done, it is up to the horse, or cancer patient, whether or not he or she chooses to run the race and how hard they fight to win. But the jockey must learn how the horse moves and what the animal needs to perform at its highest potential. This is how the cancer family operates. Ultimately, it is the patient’s battle to win, but the family does everything in its power to make sure their loved one has everything they need to fight the fight. By no means is it easy but, like all things, the greatest rewards stem from the hardest of work. In the end, it is the horse who runs the race, but it is the jockey he relies on to keep him going when hope is running short.