Just to be here


A few days ago I interviewed with the Denver Post about my friend and fellow Breast Cancer survivor, Junko Kazukow. The post is writing a story on her amazing accomplishment of being both an Leadwoman (completing the Leadville Trail 100 mile run, Leadville 10K race, Leadville 100 mile Mtn. Bike race, Silver Rush 50 mile Run and Leadville Marathon) as well as completing the “Grand Slam” of Ultra Running. (Four 100 mile races in one season). To say she is incredible would be an understatement.

I found myself sharing about my friendship with her and what it meant to finish the Leadville 100 with her just months after I myself completed chemotherapy. As I spoke I began to cry. She is just one example of so many people that walked into my life during the past year. The journalist over the phone asked me, what was next for me then? Now that I had beat cancer and just did a half marathon and sky dived to comemorate my anniversary. She said so what was next? I paused, thought for a second and began to explain that I had hoped to bike more or maybe do a triathlon. As I spoke I interrupted myself and then said, “To be honest right now, it is such a gift to wake up and be here, that I could do nothing at all and it is really special to be alive”

After the interview, I hung up the phone and wiped my tears. I pondered what I said and thought more about it. For so long I felt pressure that since I beat cancer that I should  go and do and never stop (live like your dying mentaility). Don’t get me wrong, I still hope and dream for a lot but I have never felt so certain that even in the mundane, in the simple of what is today that that in and of itself is an incredible gift and worthy of a celebration.

As I pack to fly home tomorrow, I could not be more excited to spend time with family and friends, hold my nephew, watch sports with my dad, go on walks, decorate gingerbread houses, watch the Louisville basketball team play and meet my god daughter.

I am happy to announce that I had my follow up with my oncologist yesterday and my tumor marker levels came back normal. I go again in three months but am grateful that I remain cancer free. I also got up skiing last weekend (for the first time since cancer), in inches of powder, and it was like riding a bike. It may have been a while but my legs picked up right where they left off (just a little slower).

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all of you.

Love Kristina

Below are some pictures of the Team Junko dinner we had celebrating her accomplishments and the surprise snow day we had.

Older picture of Junko and I when I was going through chemotherpy.

Junko’s Leadville 100 Run Metal

Just shy of a foot of snow!

Zoolander pose and my crazy hair (trying to catch up to my roommates).


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