Finding the strength and running through the pain
Gretta Hawkins stands in front of a wall honoring patients with Leukemia and those who have lost their battle.”
By Tricia Wackerly with photo submitted by Gretta Hawkins
Experiencing the loss of a loved one or watching them battle a life threatening illness can be overwhelming and leave one feeling hopeless. Castle Pines resident Gretta Hawkins turned those emotions into courage when her mother, Vicki Osage, was diagnosed with CMML, a rare form of Leukemia, in the fall of 2009.
In the weeks following her mother’s diagnosis, Hawkins researched CMML. “With my mother in Arizona and me in Colorado, I felt so helpless not being able to help or be there for her on a daily basis,” explained Hawkins. While scouring information online, she stumbled upon The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training (TNT) website. TNT trains more than a half a million runners, walkers, triathletes, cyclists and hikers, and to date, has raised more than $1.2 billion to fund lifesaving research.
“My mother was focused and determined on fighting for her life, and even though I had never been a runner, I thought I could be as focused and determined on fundraising for cancer by participating in these marathons,” explained Hawkins. “It made me feel like I was doing something to support her.”
When Hawkins completed her first full marathon in June 2010, her mother was right there, waiting at the finish line. “When I saw the sign for the half marathon turn, I wanted to take it,” recalled Hawkins. “The only thing that kept me going was knowing that my mom would be there when I crossed the finish line.”
As her mom continued to fight, Hawkins continued to train. In December 2010, Hawkins’ mother took a turn for the worst. “Even in the hospital, my mom would tell me, ‘Gretta go for a run, I’ll be okay;’ but I didn’t want to leave her side.” And she didn’t. Hawkins stayed by her mom’s side until her passing on January 15.
As an outlet for her grief, Hawkins continued training. She raised $3,200 so that she could compete in the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. “My mom wouldn’t be at the finish line this time, but this marathon was so special. It was my mom’s hometown as well as mine. The hills of San Francisco were pretty rough, but I felt my mom with me the whole time,” confided Hawkins.
Hawkins’ next race takes place on the one year anniversary of her mother’s passing. Her mom is sure to be smiling down with pride as Hawkins continues to help others raise money so that they can honor a loved one in their life.
Hawkins credits her coaches and teammates at Team In Training for helping her reach her goals, as well as friends and family for donations and moral support. For more information on The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training, visit www.teamintraining.org.