Meet Zahida, an avid endurance runner, taking on a brand new journey this year while training to complete her third full marathon with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada’s (LLSC) Team In Training (TNT). What brought her here is a personal story of hope.
Zahida’s connection to LLSC is very personal. The year she graduated from high school, her sister lost her husband, François, to leukemia. At a very impressionable age, Zahida saw the impact of cancer on a person’s life and on their family. François was so young and his diagnosis, treatment, and death were devastating. “I remember his love for the outdoors, his great smile, and of course, his love for my sister. He had a bone marrow transplant when he was younger, and while it was successful, he was diagnosed with a much more aggressive cancer later in his young life.”
A few years ago, Zahida began her own personal health journey, going from being significantly overweight to being ready to start a running program. It was at this time that she learned about Team In Training through her cousin, Saeed, a doctor living in Houston, Texas. He had been recently diagnosed with B-cell follicular lymphoma and while undergoing treatment, he got involved with Team In Training, completing two half marathons and raising over $7000 for his local Leukemia & Lymphoma Society chapter. “It was incredibly inspiring and empowering to see him take on this journey. He helped me see that if he could overcome what he had to when he was diagnosed, I had the potential to overcome my own hurdles and be an endurance runner myself. Really anything is possible.”
In 2012, Zahida completed two full marathons, writing about her experience on a personal running blog and gaining a following from others with similar goals and similar health struggles. “It’s all about setting goals, being realistic, and seeking community. I wasn’t alone in my journey, and now with Team In Training, I have an amazing network of coaches, staff, and friends to help me stay motivated. I’m proud to say I’m literally half the size I used to be, but live more than twice as full a life now. Now is my time to give back.”
Zahida has committed to fundraising while training to complete the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon, a Race to Benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, this coming June. Her cousin Saeed, a lymphoma survivor, will be traveling to California to run the race with her. “The moment I completed my first half marathon in 2011, I came up with the idea of training with Team In Training and doing a race with Saeed. Finally the opportunity has come where we can make it happen. It’s been about 25 years since we’ve seen one another, so this will be a wonderful reunion for our family.” This race in San Diego has a 15 year history with Team In Training where thousands of TNT athletes from across North America will be on course sporting their purple jerseys, all with one common goal: to find a cure for all blood cancers and improve the quality of life for patients and their families.
And this Team In Training experience will be special for Zahida for many reasons. “For me it’s not really about the race. The race is the icing on the cake or the reward at the end. It’s really about the funds and awareness I hope to raise leading up to the race. And that’s why I’ve signed up early and have gotten started on that already. Losing François 15 years ago was devastating, and so I hope that for him, I can honour his memory through working hard to raise lifesaving funds in his name. But it’s also about spreading hope. Saeed’s story is a story of hope. He leads a quality life as a husband, as a father to two beautiful children, and as a successful medical professional thanks to advances in oncology over the years. Research dollars do make a difference. Saeed is proof of that. But we still have a long way to go.”
Relentless for a cure, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada’s Team In Training is the largest and most successful endurance sports training program for charity. Runners, walkers, cyclists, and triathletes of all levels have the opportunity to challenge their fitness and participate in a world-class endurance event, while making a true difference in the lives of 100,000 Canadians living with blood cancers.
Sign up. Get involved. Achieve your goals with Team In Training. We are currently registering teams for the following events:
Training starts on February 9th, 2013
To find out more, visit www.teamintraining.ca or call 604-733-2873.