“The Marathon: The Day That Cancer Lost the Race” by Rocky Romano

0116150046-00Let me introduce you to my friend Shelley. She is a great marathon runner. I would say that she was born to run, is an incredible athlete, never gives up, her willpower is the fuel that always make her reach the goal. If there is a word for this quality, I would choose the word “STUBBORN”, but above all things, Shelley is a human being full of love, compassion, and kindness to her neighbor, an excellent mother, wife, and friend. I had the blessing of meeting her at a great company, where we worked together for several years; she was the Manager of Human Resources, so she was, to me, ” The Big boss”. She always supported me that with the team I commanded, ( at that time, we managed our personal and work goals), she helped to mentor me and made me part of many projects in the company. Over my time spent working with Shelley, I learned to know her spirit and heart, and adopt her as not only my career mentor, but also my spiritual sister. I will share with you her story full of courage, bravery and love.

In 2012, on very cold and rainy morning, I was thinking about my friend Shelley. I wondered to myself, because I had not received any news about her at the that time, and I felt worry about her, at that moment, I received a very clear message in my mind telling me that she was having some kind of trouble. Usually, I am connected spiritually with my loved ones.I returned to my desk, took my laptop out, and sent an e-mail to Shelley, which said, ” Dear friend, Shelley, how have you been? Your absence, your silence, tells me that something is not right? have I offended you with something that I said? I wonder how are you? I am worry about you,..blessings for you and your family..Sincerely.Rocky”

Two day later..I remember very clearly that day, that I opened my e-mail and I received her answer; it was a very special day, a family day, my wife playing with our daughter, which I enjoyed because I saw and heard my little Angel laugh while I was front my laptop. My mind could not accept what my eyes were reading the e-mail was saying the following,” Dear friend Rocky… Since I have been absent, I haven’t been able to let you know, but…the truth is that after some tests,  my doctor diagnosed me with breast cancer in its second stage, which means I have a chance to overcome it, but we must act soon…sorry for this bad news. I will keep you informed. Thanks, Shelley”.

Many images flashed through my mind, I broke down in tears. At that period in my life, my heart was very sensitive; I had barely recovered from surgery after a car accident. I can still remember very clearly, e-mails from Shelley, telling me,” Rocky, do not give up, you will make it through this, I believe in you!” With those words of encouragement and the emotional support of those who love me, family and friends, I was able to achieve recovery. I remember when I went to the gym with my crutches and continued training, often during those workouts my crutches fell to the ground, and I still remember something that will always stay in my soul until the end of my days; I remember very well the faces of those kind souls who come I raised my crutches and helped sustain me while I exercised and my body healed after surgery. Oh!! My sweet Lord! How could I forget such noble gestures of those around me at the time!?!

My apologies, Dear Reader, back to our conversation, I went to another topic…sorry! In life, all the things are related in one way or another. So, when I got the bad news that Shelley had stage 2 breast cancer, I burst into tears. My family got silent for a moment, then my wife approached me and asked, ” Rock, what happened? something bad is happening?” to which, I replied,” Yes, honey,do you remember my friend Shelley. which help me during my recovery after my accident?” She answered, ” yes, of course, Rocky, how I can forget her”? As I cried, it was hard to tell my wife the sad news, but I said to her that,” Shelley’s doctor diagnosed her with stage 2 breast cancer.” My wife hugged me and said” Oh, Rocky! I am sorry for her,for children, for her husband; God will help her in this battle.”

One week later, Shelley, sent me an e-mail saying, that she would be having surgery within ten days on both breasts to hopefully remove the cancer. I decided that I would go to see her before the surgery. Prior to calling her, I passed by her office, we shared a coffee, and remembered old times when we worked together in that great company, we talked about other employees and co-workers, situations where we fought together for the right of our co-workers, talking about all of memorable work times. During this conversation, she asked me,” Rocky, how’s your leg? I see that you made it, you did it very well.” Then I said, ” Yes, thanks to God, to the people who love me, thanks to all support you gave me at the time, Shelley, now it’s my turn, I’ m here to give you my support hereafter.” To which she responded, with a great courage, ” Thank you, thank you..Listen to me, Rocky. I know, what I face, and what comes after surgery; chemotherapy, reconstruction of the area where the surgery will be done. I know what I face, and I’m ready for it”, we both looked at our watches, and closed with strong handshake and a warm supportive hug.

Over much time, Shelley bravely faced each task; chemotherapy, reconstructive surgery and the inevitable chemotherapy. During all of this, Shelley, her beloved mother, her husband kept me informed of her progress. After more than a year in this battle, in which I was suffering on many occasions her pain, Shelley defeated the cancer!! Finally, test indicated that she was out of danger, and that there existed no carcinogenic cell in her body. I was so happy for her on that day, and now, I only call her once a month to ask how she and her family are doing.

The fact is that this story has another side that my hopeless soul of a writer, saw with images and metaphors, that only those who love the romance of reading, can understand,  you can call this part of the story ” Fiction”… well..I only can say  these feelings are transformed into images by the written word..then, this is how I see Shelley’s story through my writer’s eye:

The day was gray, dark clouds covered the sky, the rain was intermittent, even the runners were preparing for the marathon, the speakers announced that among runners was one of the most feared and chilling competitors, his personal career marked him as an, ” Eliminator” unprecedented in history…when I heard his name by over the loud-speaker, my breath froze for a moment…the name..”CANCER”! Shelley, my spiritual sister, one of the marathoners who has always shown incredibly high strength, was there. came over to me to say, ” Rocky, here’s my race. it’s my destiny, I cannot get out of this, my family, my friends, you all are here to see me win, I do not have choices, I must to do this…do you understand, Rocky? I’m not competing against anyone else in this marathon, only against  him”‘, and I said, ” Shelley, I’ m afraid..” she interrupted, ” Rocky, come on!! We have preached encouragements to each other all of these years! Tell me!! Tell me!!..HAVE COURAGE AND FAITH!” I did not answer her.

When she got to the Starting Line of this race, she turns around to look at me, smiles, as always spreading joy and happiness, and says, ” You man of little faith, I will achieve this!! So, I looked at her, and said, ” Friend, you will make it!”

Then, come the time of departure, Cancer stood beside her and I listened to the exchange of words between them, Cancer looks very arrogant and looked  at her and said, ” Silly, girl, you will not achieve it!” , she replied, ” I feel that the power of God is with me.” everything looked like a personal challenge, it really was, and she added, ” Who can stand against God?” Detonation of the starter’s gun, the marathon had begun. From the start Cancer ran rapidly, I saw as Shelley was trying to keep pace with him, I could see it was very hard for her, the stage was  like a horror movie, with darkness, rain, thunder, and lightning seemed be allies as Cancer raised his cruel figure. I could not take the suspense, everything happened a long time from the start, many had abandoned the race, other marathoners had fallen far behind, in this competition were Shelley and Cancer alone, this was a personal competition, a personal battle. Shelley, looked very tired, the day had been too long for her, however, she did not give up. Then the unexpected happened, in one of the corner of the circuit, Shelley was on par with this nefarious competitor..then Cancer cheated, and pushed Shelley, making her fall and roll, hitting her body against the rocks that were in their way. She was very sore, I could see the suffering in her face, her body was covered in mud, she tried to stand up and could not, I saw despair on his face, all of us outside of this marathon that were watching, we wanted to run to help her…but suddenly, a bright light covered the entire competition..there in that light, I saw a human figure, his clothes were all white and shining… I knew, without a doubt that it was an Angel….This being approached her, and helped her get up, then stroked his right hand over the wounds on Shelley’s face, and after this, he takes her arms and runs with her, to the Finish line of marathon. As the Angel and Shelley run together, I could see that their feet not longer touch the ground; such a wonderful picture! Shelley was smiling, no longer had pain in her face, there was not pain, the thunder and rain stopped, she started running very fast until she caught up to Cancer, the soon He was lagging behind, cursing in anger.

Shelley, come triumphantly to the goal, and magically as she breaks through the Finish Line tape…I saw Cancer vanish, and Shelley covered in mud from the marathon, was raised high as victor on the shoulders of her family and friends…her victory makes me feel drunk with happiness.

I did not approach this victorious crowd because I am a shy man sometimes, and even during the happiness of Shelley’s beating Cancer, I am leery of the crowd surrounding her . Yet. it was enough for me, she won this race, this battle..the clouds had vanished, and sun appeared. Apart from the crowd, standing, facing me, I see the same character, who had helped Shelley during the marathon, yes…I am talking about the Angel, the same Angel that cleaned and cured her wounds…the Angel raised his hand to signal to greet me, I smiled and did the same…then…clearly, I could read on his lips, he told me, ” She achieved!!” I replied in the same way, moving my lips, ” Yes, she did”, as at that moment, his eyes were full of light and he gesture to me, telling me, ” Write about this.” I closed my eyes…I thought to myself, ” What’s that?”..When I re-opened my eyes, he was gone . I turned around to return to my house. It had been a very long day, a day of about eight-thousand-seven-hundred- and-sixty-hours long; I was very tired…but, I had learned to value and respect life…now it was time to share..it was time TO WRITE!


12 thoughts on ““The Marathon: The Day That Cancer Lost the Race” by Rocky Romano

  1. May Desert Flower says:

    What a way to tell the tale 😊😊😊😊😊
    First I am glad Shelley is ok and you’ve made a recovery after your accident 😊
    And the writing? Don’t stop and keep writing 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. MichelleMarie says:

    Hi Rocky what a story you have shared! I’ve been looking for you to post and I wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading!
    Also I wanted to say hi my new found friend! I hope you had a blessed Monday and continues through out your week! Big hugs to you! 😄💗

    Liked by 1 person

    • rockyromano10 says:

      Michelle..first of all..How is doing your lovely daughter? I hope she doing good..feeling better..I hope, you are doing good, too..I am wishing the best for both of you. Michelle, thank you for your nice comment and support about my last post..thank you very much….thank you.. you are very kind..thank you!!!


  3. verocorrealain says:

    You really told the truth in an amazing way ! I am happy your friend make it and that she is fine with her kids and great husband. You did also had your angel that help you heal when you had your accident 🙂 and I am very thankful to God that you teciveted 100% and that you are able to run and play with our little one.

    Liked by 1 person

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