I have been struggling with this particular topic. Not making alliterations, that was a game Ashley and I played when naming things like our cars, our dog, our kids… We never stuck to the alliteration but Ashley liked the word play. Toews Taube was my leading name for Fischer. (For those of you that are not hockey fans, its pronounced Taves.) When Ashley shot that down, I tried to come up with crazier names. Didn’t work, but I almost had her convinced that we could make his middle name Danger, so that he could always have an opening line… she also vetoed that.
Over the past few years, Ashley was approached by many of her friends, especially last year, to do all these fundraisers. She and I had a hard time accepting the generosity of friends, family, and strangers. It was overwhelming and at times, I was completely uncomfortable with it all.
Take the Taube Spirit Night at the Hamilton Mill Chick Fil A last year. That was not my scene, I didn’t think we deserved it or at least I didn’t. (Ashley deserved so much more than I could ever give her.) So much so that I waited till the last 20 minutes to “show-up.”
I was overwhelmed by the number of people still there and it was amazing to hear about the turnout. Even just the people who came to say hi and give her a hug. Ashley was such a huge part of our community. She had impacted so many people…
But all of this is not me. I am uncomfortable about accepting help… I’d rather be the one helping others. I don’t feel comfortable accepting anything that I did not earn. I have always been grateful for the blessings that I have had in my life and I have tried to give back more than I receive. (Ashley was not comfortable accepting help from others either. Often, she would struggle with figuring out how to repay everyone. The only way Ashley knew how, was to fight harder… But she also knew how to make a genuine connection with the people wanting to help her.
I still find that hard, but being grateful and teaching my boys to be grateful each day is something I can do. At dinner, we either say grace or we take turns saying something that we are thankful for from that day. If we choose to say grace instead (usually the prayer the boys learned at Celebration (“God our Father…”) or the blessing I knew growing up (“Bless us oh Lord…”) then during bedtime prayers, we will state what we are thankful for. This vocalizing gratitude has helped me immensely and I feel it is helping the boys as well.
It has taken some time for me to realize that people just want to help in some way and these fundraising events give them that outlet. Their giving is just as important to them as it is to us.
The Mill Creek community has done so much for me and my family I don’t know how I will ever repay them. This generosity continues every day. Which brings me today. I have been feeling a little uncomfortable with doing this race again…
When Kelly approached me about doing a Taube Trot this year, it was early January. I was hesitant but remembered how much fun Ashley and the boys had last year, so I said yes. Probably prematurely. I really wasn’t involved in the planning or preparation last year. I showed up, ran with Ashley, ran with the boys, took a few pictures, and then went back to Mill Creek and worked Track Sectionals…
Now I am more aware of the inner workings of putting on event like this. It takes a lot of work… I have been feeling guilty. All the work that Kelly, Trish, Bri, Jen, Hayley, Katie, Kari, Rob, etc. have done to make another successful race is in itself overwhelming. I almost wanted to say, “Forget it. Don’t worry about it. People have been so generous, we don’t need another event.”
Then FundRacers posted the picture of Baker running in front of Ashley during the fun run. Bringing up the memory of Fischer, Ashley, and Baker having so much fun last year. (Baker saw that picture on my computer today, and was looking at it intently. I asked him what he was thinking about. He said: “I know I am going to beat Uncle Matt, but I don’t know if I can beat Aunt Ingrid.” Trying not to laugh, I said “good point buddy, but you are bigger this year and you have some new shoes, so I think you can beat her. He said, “Yeah, but she beat me last year and I don’t know if she has been training this year.”
The thing about this race is not that it is a fundraiser for my boys. Honestly, that part still makes me uncomfortable… It’s about how it made Ashley feel. And how much fun we all had, especially Fischer and Baker.
Last year, our Spring break was spent in Tampa. One of Ashley’s tumors (she had two that we knew of at that time) was pressing on her abdominal blood vessels and nerves. She was in pain constantly; pain meds were not very effective and yoga was about the only thing that helped her among other things. So, she decided to have a procedure to deaden the nerve.
Earlier that March we traveled to Tampa and she received a nerve block where she was injected with lidocaine. It only lasted a couple of days but Ashley was pain free. The repeat process was similar but could last 6 months. This procedure is called neurolysis. (If my students are reading this blog, they would tell you that means “nerve-cutting.” Not actually, but I test them on medical prefixes and suffixes. Neuro= nerve, lysis= to cut, or break apart.) Ashley’s procedure consisted of two injections of alcohol into her spine to “kill the nerve” that was causing her pain. This procedure would still be temporary because the nerve would eventually regenerate.
Ashley had the procedure 4/6/18. The Taube Trot was three weeks later on 4/28/18. (What many people don’t know is that Ashley was actually in more pain and discomfort after the neurolysis until late May.) But Ashley had been training, slowly but surely, for the race. Walking, jogging, and doing the elliptical. She never made it to a full 5k distance but she was training…
On 4/28/18 Ashley was so full of energy, pain free and happy. Not from pain meds (she intentionally reduced her dose because she was afraid she would over-do it.) Not from the neurolysis, (that really wouldn’t take full effect until May.) But from all of the love and support she felt.
Ashley gave a speech and the race started. (Earlier that week we had talked about walking the majority of the race and I even told her how to cut the course if it got to be too much for her.) She and I waited back and let everyone start ahead of us. We ran the first mile non-stop. Me asking Ashley if she was okay every minute. When we got to the first hill, I made her stop and walk. Partly because I was worried about her and mostly because I needed a break. We continued on, actually passing quite a few people. Each person cheering her on. Ashley was doing great and probably going faster than I wanted to.
When we got to the last leg of the race, Ashley’s brother Rob met us after he had finished and doubled back to right before the pond loop. This re-energized Ashley to finish strong and continue running. As we neared the finish I got close to Ashley and put my arm around her and we crossed the finish line together. Ashley was able to continue on and take pictures. Visit with friends and socialize. Then she goes and runs the fun run with the boys. Ashley was running on pure love. Ashley continued with the rest of the event, giving out door prizes, awarding medals, and taking pictures. No one could see the pain she was in or how she was feeling the previous month leading up to the race. Mainly because she wasn’t in pain. She was full of energy and feeling great… Ashley chose happy and so did everyone else that day.
My goals for the race this year are:
1) For the boys to have fun and feel the same love they did last year.
2) Set my own PR for the course. I ran it in 26.30 at the “Run the Creek” Race. (I want to run it in 25.25 minutes. Last year I finished in like 37 minutes. I’m 20lbs lighter than last year’s race (25lbs since November) and have been running twice a week along with other cardio and strength workouts.)
3) Increase Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness…
The last one is hard for me. Because I have to face not only the reality of Ashley’s strength, but also what neuroendocrine cancer took from us. What she had to endure, what I had to go through as a caregiver, what our boys…
It’s not something I think I am ready to blog about yet. But I owe it to Ashley and others who have this particular type of cancer to increase awareness. Which will hopefully lead to more funding, which leads to more treatments which hopefully leads to a better quality of life and hopefully a cure.
So when I am able to blog about that part of our relationship, I hope you continue to follow along with Team Taube… which is another great alliteration.