February 1, 2007 was not only the one-year anniversary of my Nana’s death but it was also the day my mom was diagnosed with a rare and serious disease: pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension is a condition in which the pulmonary arteries of your lungs become damaged, making it difficult for blood to flow through them, and, as a result, causing the heart’s right ventricle to work harder to pump blood through it, severely weakening the heart. PH may be genetic but the causes are unknown and currently there is no cure. Thankfully, my mom has responded incredibly to treatment and is the subject of several studies at Stanford’s PH Center. She’s a trooper.
On Sunday, Jesse and I ran the Race Against PH 5K at Stanford University. Occurring the morning after daylight savings time ending, the morning was crisp and bright. Enthusiasm abounded, with doctors, including my mom’s doctor, Dr. Rohman Zamanian, riling up the crowd and leading a Zumba warm up. Many participants wore shirts proclaiming their dedicating the race to loved ones, which is both heartbreaking and inspiring.
The race wasn’t my best. I felt lethargic, and telling my legs “go go gadget legs” didn’t seem to kick up my speed. But as I settled into a low 8:00s pace, I started feeling how thankful I was: thankful that my mom was running the race too, thankful that my biggest problem at that moment was not running as fast as I’d like, and thankful that my loved ones are relatively healthy and happy. I didn’t break 25 minutes yesterday like I’d hope but the race helped me recognize what’s truly important.