You never know when a metaphor will drop upon you like the race that was supposed to be a marathon except the finish line isn't 26.2 miles ahead rather the time behind measured each day you survive, a race of one step, one day, one milestone at a time. After 500 miles of running, after 100 hours in the gym, I was standing at the starting line for a marathon at Disney World, the happiest place on the planet, after five days learning I had cancer- renal clear cell carcinoma- a mouthful of alliteration hard to swallow. So I swallowed ibuprophen and ran through the Magic Kingdom through Hollywood Studios through Downtown Disney, through Animal Kingdom and Epcot alongside runners dressed like Mickey and Minnie Mouse like Donald Duck and Goofy alongside cancer survivors, the back of one's T-shirt reading: "If you think a marathon is tough try chemotherapy." Each breath taken each stride planted I never felt so alive, the aches in the knees and hips- benevolent pains-trophies for having lived to middle age, every stride taking me nearer to the finish line, every breath taking me further from the unplanned finish, one step, one day, one milestone at a time.
Robert E. Petras's poem, "The Marathon," was inspired by running in his first marathon, learning only five days earlier he had kidney cancer. He finished that race and continues to run and play tennis today as a six-year cancer survivor. His poems and short fiction have appeared in more than 100 publications, most recently in Heyday Magazine, and American Juice Speech Bubble Magazine.