We are excited to have Coral Eby partner with the Acoustic Neuroma Association to raise funds in honor of her best friend and AN Warrior, Samira Rajabi. Click here to help contribute to her cause and read her story below:
In 1997 at West Middle School, I met a radiant, smart, and energetic young woman named Samira Rajabi. Her kindness and impeccable sense of humor were infectious, and it wasn’t long until we were the best of friends.
In high school, Samira & I confided in each other and learned to navigate the world together. We ran on the track team, were debate partners, and even had neighboring lockers. She was the first person I told I had a crush on a boy in our friend group – a boy who years later would go on to be my husband.
In college, Samira & I remained best friends, calling each other constantly as I explored my school in Los Angeles and she made herself at home in Boulder. In 2010, we ran our first half marathon together, and she supported me the whole course after I sprained my ankle at Mile 4. We supported each other as Maids of Honor in each other’s weddings, and Samira helped me welcome my two children to the world. 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. As her friend, I struggled to know how and when to support her and to better understand what she was going through.
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 ANA 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, despite spraining my ankle. We ran 13.1 miles together (with Samira much better trained than I was) yelling, “I LOVE YOU, BESTIE!” the whole race – and maybe freaking one or two runners out with our vocal love for one another.
In life, 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 and support for my best friend through my commitment to fundraising and raising awareness for ANA this year. I’m excited to dedicate my running season this year to Samira and ANA and to cross each finish line with the same grit and grace she’s shown in her own journey!