What Martin Luther King Day Means To Me

I am sitting here eating yet ANOTHER giant bowl of oatmeal before a long run.

I hate oatmeal.

However, it is an efficient and easy way to get good carbs in before I run 10, 15, or 20 miles.  (Today will only be about 10, if you're wondering.)


I got the news that a colleague's wife has stage two breast cancer this week and I have been thinking about them constantly.

Of course, this time of year is pretty significant.  After all, in less than 9 days, the nation will remember Martin Luther King, Jr., an extraordinary leader who inspired millions during the Civil Rights Movement but was stopped early in his efforts by assassination.  Many businesses will close their doors to observe this national holiday.

But what does Martin Luther King Day mean to YOU, and to this post, you're probably asking?

Thousands of students of all ages have undoubtedly opined on this topic, and I'm sure responses have included: it is a reminder of the importance of the civil rights movement, a way to recognize the contributions of African Americans to modern society, a celebration of the victory of pacifist protest over violence, a demonstration of what can happen when a charismatic leader uses his influence for the greater good, how civil unrest can interfere with social progress - or a combination of these ideas and countless valuable others. 

And, while MLK Day does mean all these things to me, and probably some other things as well, it also holds great personal significance.

Martin Luther King Day - January 15, 2010 - was the day I was diagnosed with thryoid cancer. 

You can read about my reaction and the overall results of that call here, and I won't bore you with it if you already know.  Next week it will be one year since my diagnosis, and every single day I feel a little more normal.   Even the days that leave me feeling hypothyroid, sick and exhausted, I stop and think about what a change knowing about (and treating) that cancer has made, if not on my physical health, then on my perspective.

Perhaps the most important thing I've done, especially in light of my friend's recent diagnosis, is dedicate my time to the American Cancer Society's DetermiNation program.  Training is hard; fundraising is really hard! (Especially when you're working 3 1/2 other jobs!)  But neither are anywhere near as hard as beating cancer.

Regardless of what MLK Day means to you, the one thing I truly wish for everyone I know is that, some day this year, you resolve to take action about whatever inspires you.  Whether that is pursuing the job you've always wanted, the education you need, or booking your first skydiving excursion: find out what you need to do and DO IT.  Do it for people who can't, do it because you never know when you'll get another chance, do it because you might inspire others: just resolve to TAKE ACTION.

Now my oats are getting cold, so I'm off. 'Cause if there's one thing I hate more than oatmeal, it's cold oatmeal.

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