Many of you who know me know that over the last several years, my friend Samira Rajabi has battled the effects of a brain tumor diagnosis called Acoustic Neuroma. As I prepare for my 2018-2019 races, I'm raising funds for the Acoustic Neuroma Association in an effort to help fund support groups and patient resources for this rare disease.
Samira and I have been friends since 1997, meeting at West Middle School in gym class and becoming almost instantly inseparable. In high school, Samira & I ran track together, a sport I convinced her to join and later left due to an ankle injury and a lack of discipline but that Samira excelled at with hard work and dedication. Years later in 2010, we ran our first half marathon together, and she supported me the whole course after I sprained my ankle at Mile 4. Over the course of the last 20+ years, I’ve been blessed to have Samira as my best friend and sister and to experience life fully with her by my side.
In 2012, Samira had an MRI that changed the course of her life, and, in many ways, mine too. Her ongoing headaches and difficult sense of balance she’d experienced for years turned out to be the effects of an acoustic neuroma – a tumor that she approached with her brilliant sense of humor and quickly dubbed “Herbert” as she reconciled what her diagnosis would mean for her. At the time of her diagnosis, I had never heard of an acoustic neuroma – and I’m not sure I knew the extent to which this tumor would impact Samira or anyone else diagnosed with AN.
Since discovering Herbert, Samira has had numerous surgeries and a spinal fluid leak. She’s experienced significant side effects, including losing her hearing on one side, something I later learned was common in the aftermath of AN. She’s learned to manage chronic pain while also managing a thriving career in academia and a complete dedication to her family and family of choice.
Seeing Samira so openly and honestly approach her journey with Herbert has been an inspiring look into her mental toughness and resilience, and having a resource like Acoustic Neuroma Association's support groups available for both patients and their loved ones has been a critical part of her recovery.
As I prepare to train for the Palm Beaches Half Marathon in December and the Colfax Marathon in May, I’ve thought often about Samira and my first half marathon together. That was the race that sparked my passion for endurance sports. We ran 13.1 miles together yelling, “I LOVE YOU, BESTIE!” the whole race.
That same enthusiastic declaration of love and support for one another has kept me going through tough days and tough runs, and I hope I can return that love for Samira & her family through my commitment to fundraising and raising awareness for ANA this year. I'm excited to cross each finish line with the same grit and grace she’s shown in her own journey!
You can follow along with my training and running adventures as I work to raise funds for Acoustic Neuroma Association by following me on social media using #IRun4Bestie. You can also learn more about Acoustic Neuroma Association (ANA) by visiting their website at anausa.org.
Thank you so much for your support of this cause!