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Finish Line
by: Tom Hanna, Heartwarmers4u

In December of 1992 I was a happy husband and father of two young children. A month later, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoplastic Luekemia.

After two years of chemoterapy that helped me into remission, my body was weak and lifeless. I felt as if I were a puppet who needed help to lift his arms or hold up his head.

I began to run. After six months my strength had come back. On one of my runs, one where I felt I could run forever, I decided I was going to try to run a marathon.

After telling my Dad about my plan he told me of a program that trains people to run a marathon, while raising funds for Luekemia research at the same time. So that summer, through the Luekemia Society's Team In Training program I started to train for the Marine Corps Marathon. During mile after mile of uncertainty, the day finally came to run the marathon.

On October 27,1996, at 8am, the cannon went off and so did I. Along with 19,000 other brave souls I started on a twenty-six and two tenths mile journey that I will never forget.

I first saw my wife Patty at the six mile mark: she seemed happy that I was still looking as if I knew what I was doing , and having a good time doing it. At mile 17, my mind was going back to those two horrible years that tried to bring my family and me down. I saw her again. The concern in her face told me she knew I was starting to struggle. I felt as if we were thinking the same, nine more miles and these last few years will be behind us.

That thought alone pulled me forward. Mile 22, 23, slowing but going, 24, 25, then there it was. The Iwo Jima War Memorial. I have seen nothing so grand and inspiring in my life. At 3 hours and 41 minutes after I started, I crossed what I think has to be the most fitting finish line in all of road racing!

That night the Luekemia Society gave me a pin at a post race party that simply says, "Luekemia 26.2".

If God wills, and I relapse, my cancer may once again take away my hair and my strength, maybe even my life. But it can never take away my pin, or the fact that I am a marathoner.

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