Sunday, December 30, 2007
Yesterday was supposed to be a 12 miler, but with one of my teammates injured and it pouring rain much of the time, we shortened it to 10 miles. Everyone on the team was soaked to the skin, and especially having wet running shoes and socks is miserable. But at least it was not a 20 mile day, and at least we were all healthy enough to be out there doing 10 miles in the rain. It surely felt great to get home, put on some dry clothes, stretch out, drink a couple of mugs of hot tea, and get a shower. With the race only two weeks away, I am hoping that this cold is gone soon.
Photo for this post:
I've been in Arizona once before. It was 2000, and cancer was still nearly two years in the future. Neither lymphoma nor marathons had crossed my mind as I explored a bit of the awesome Grand Canyon. Yet, more than seven years later, I am preparing to return to Arizona as a lymphoma survivor and as a marathoner to do my third marathon for Team in Training. Thanks for helping to make this endeavor a success!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I keep telling myself that it is not my time in the marathon that counts, but my time at the marathon. It would be different if I were a world class marathoner or even trying for Boston, but that is most assuredly not the case.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Hello with my last TNT update for 2007. Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to all! In this update, I’ll talk about a few fun statistics about training and fund raising, and answer a few more questions. First, a couple of quick updates.
Fund raising has gone really well since my last update a few weeks ago, and I am now at 64% of my goal! I am excited about this, because I am starting to see that my goal is reachable, even though it is a challenge. If you want to read about what I am doing, see more updates, make a donation online, or see my honoree list, just go out to my website:
If you want to make a donation by check, just contact me and I will give you the details.
Training was going really well. I celebrated 5 years in remission from lymphoma this weekend by walking 20 miles, giving myself bursitis in the right hip in the process. It is way too painful to train right now, and I am a little stressed about it with the marathon just one month away.
Here are some stats (to date) about this season, just for the fun of it, and for a change of pace in these notes.
Stats about Fund Raising (I am grateful for all donations of any amount):
Total dollars raised: $9,976.75 (Who will put me over $10,000?)
# of people / couples making donations: 102
Largest donation: $1,000 by Computer Resource Team
# of people making more than one donation: 6
Most unusual donation amounts: $155.55 (1% of my goal); $26.20
Most common donation amounts: $25 (37 donors); $50 (24); $100 (19)
Stats about Training:
Longest training at one time: 20.5 miles
Most miles before work: 12 miles; 10 miles (twice)
Most miles after work: 10 miles
Most unusual training: To the NC border and back from Back Bay, 19.6 miles
Weeks of training lost due to injury or illness: 8 counting this week
Weeks lost due to a training related injury: 1 week
Earliest training start: 4:15 AM
Lowest temperature while training: about 25 degrees
Highest temperature while training: about 90 degrees
Now, on to some more questions I sometimes get asked about my involvement in Team and Training.
What was your best TNT moment? There have been so many amazing moments, but I think my best was about mile 25 of the Anchorage Marathon in 2005. I was soaked and cold, had been going with blisters on both feet for about 12 miles, and everything from the hips down hurt. Standing in the rain, obviously for hours, was a lady holding a big sign that read “Leukemia Survivor – Thanks!”. That one person, and one moment, made everything totally worthwhile.
Are you walking or running the marathon? I am walking it for the most part. I’ve had so many injury setbacks this year that I’ve not been able to run as much as I’d originally hoped. So at this point, I am walking the whole thing with the possible exceptions of a few minutes now and then when I need a change of pace. Walking a marathon is not as hard as running a marathon, but it is plenty hard enough for me.
How fast do you walk? Well, this week, very slowly with the bursitis. In fact, a snail passed me today, leaving me in the dust, sneering at me as he raced by. But when I am not injured, I walk at somewhere between a 13.75 and 14.5 minute mile pace. My last marathon, if you take out time for waiting in porta potty lines, my pace would have been about 13.8 minutes per mile average for 26.2 miles. For short distances, say under 7 miles, I can average about 13.25 to 13.5 minutes per mile but have not been able to sustain that for long distances.
How much is the marathon fee and is it refundable if you are not able to be in the race? The marathon fee is three gallons of sweat, a dozen blisters, two hours in ice water baths, and 60 hours of sleep missed while sane people are still in bed. Sometimes, you can negotiate a “black toe” in exchange for the blisters, but since it takes about 10 months for the toenail to grow back, it is probably better to go with the blisters. None of these fees are refundable.
Do you really take ice water baths? I do after long training walks, say 15 miles and longer, and after the marathon. It is miserable for about 10 seconds and then not so bad, and really helps with soreness the next day by removing a lot of inflammation. I stay in the ice water for about 15 minutes. I always have a little fear that I will get too cold to get out of the tub and get hypothermia. Wouldn’t that make a great headline in the Richmond Times Dispatch? But so far, I have always been motivated enough to get out of the tub.
Well, thanks for reading my update, and for those of you that have donated, many thanks beyond that!
Monday, December 10, 2007
At training on Saturday, I celebrated by walking 20 miles. Afterwards, my teammates treated me to a B&B - balloons and bagels! Of course, the balloons were purple and green, the Team in Training colors, and there were five of them. It was a lot of fun - what a great bunch of folks they are! Unfortunately, my camera was not available so I didn’t get to record the moment. It is in my mind, though.The bad news is that the 20 miles on concrete pavement has led to bursitis in my right hip, which is incredibly painful. Training on the road is not in the cards for at least a few days, but a trip to an orthopedist is. The timing of an injury is not great with the marathon less than five weeks away, but it is what it is. Injuries, minor and not, are just part of marathon training. It is difficult to avoid them entirely, although we try.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
This coming weekend is a big milestone for me. I will reach the five year remission mark this Sunday – I call it my “Gimme 5” milestone. It was five years ago that my last chemo cycle ended, and my seven month saga with Hodgkin lymphoma was over. A CT scan a week or so later confirmed that my body had no evidence of cancer remaining. What an incredible feeling that was! I was still weak and tired, and remember coming down with a severe cold right after that, but that all seemed minor. I guess there are probably a lot of factors that played a role in my survival, including the luck of the draw, the grace of God, determination, a positive attitude, family and friends, health insurance, good medical care, decent physical conditioning, and medical research. I think that is probably only a partial list.
Note one item in that list – medical research. Think about it. In 2002, my odds of reaching this point were great for cancer – about 80 to 85%. Only a few decades before, a blink of an eye in human history, my odds would have been maybe 40%. Not too long before that, maybe 10%. As my oncologist told me once during chemo, “Hodgkin lymphoma is one of our real medical success stories. When I (this is the doctor speaking, not me) was an intern back in the 1960’s, people who got it received treatment for six months or so, were incredibly sick, and then died.” The difference is medical research, clinical trials, new drugs, and a near exponential growth in medical knowledge.
There is rarely a day that goes by when I don’t reflect for at least a few minutes about how grateful I am to be a cancer survivor. I am very well aware that it didn’t have to be that way, and is not that way for so many people. I think often of people working on this problem back in the 1950’s – 1970’s, working to save my life decades later. They had no idea, and I don’t know them. I can’t thank them, at least not directly. So I am thanking you, because some time in the future, someone who doesn’t know you will be thanking you. They will have survived because of some medical advance that was funded by all of our collective efforts. Thanks so much for getting involved in TNT, and working to make a difference.
Art (Winter Team for the Arizona Marathon)
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Our team is small, as the winter team usually is. TNT does teams in three seasons - spring, fall, and winter. In the other seasons, there are usually 5 or 6 events, but only 3 events for the winter. But while the team is a small one, it is composed of really wonderful women and men. Our coaches, Michal and Sarah, are first rate and so supportive and dedicated, as is my mentor, Theresa. And my teammates are just all really good people. While we all enjoy trying to make a difference in the war against cancer, it is a pleasure to be with great folks while doing so and working so hard.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Here is my latest update in my quest to complete the Arizona Marathon in January while raising life-saving funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This time around, I am asking you to Gimme 5!
1. Gimme 5 minutes of your time - go to my TNT web page at:
There, you will learn more about The Society and my training and fundraising progress and updates. In the five minutes that it takes you to review my web page, someone new is diagnosed with a blood cancer – so money for research and patient support is desperately needed.
2. Gimme 5 friends. Send this e-mail to five of your friends or colleagues and help me spread the word about what I am doing! Maybe they will want to make a donation as well, or maybe they know someone in their lives who has cancer and will get some encouragement that people can survive cancer and come back to do a marathon.
3. Gimme 5 months of training to get ready for the Arizona marathon. It is a ton of work, but it pales in comparison to what people facing cancer have to go through every day. During the five months I’ve trained, approximately 21,600 Americans have died from blood cancers.
4. Gimme 5 years of surviving lymphoma. In May, I became a five year survivor, and in about two weeks, I will be five years in remission. I am doing this particular marathon in thanks for reaching the five year point, which is huge with cancer patients. When I was ill, I pledged to give something back once I was healthy again, and raising money for LLS is what I have been called to do. But I can’t do it without you.
5. Gimme 5 hundred thousand Americans who have contracted blood cancers in those five years. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be a survivor! Help me help others with cancer to win their battles.
6. Gimme a donation and I’ll give you 5 reasons I’m grateful for it. You can make a secure credit card donation online, or if you prefer, get me a check payable to LLS. For those of you who have already donated, here are 5 things I’m grateful for regarding your donation: (1) Just still being on God’s green earth to ask people for a donation; (2) That cancer survival rates continue to increase, and you are helping (3) Because without your donation, all I am doing is going 26.2 miles – it is your donation that is real purpose of all of this; (4) That so many people continue to believe in me trying to make a difference for the third straight year with TNT; (5) For the names of your loved ones that I wear on my shirt on race day. These give me a lot of strength during the marathon, and I am grateful for you sharing them with me.
So if you haven’t done so already but would like to, go ahead and use your fingers to write a check to LLS or key in a credit card donation. In return, I’ll use my legs and feet to go 26.2 miles, and you’ll automatically get all five reasons for my gratitude applied to you as well!
With humble thanks,
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Photo for this post:
During the marathon, I plan on wearing these three bracelets. Our TNT "T.E.A.M." bracelet reminds those of us who are participating in Team in Training for the LLS to Train, Endure, Achieve, and Matter. Teammate, fellow marathoner, and fellow lymphoma survivor Nicki Patton passed the 10 year remission milestone last February, and her "Decade of Strength" bracelet reminds us of all that cancer patients go through. Tommy West is a Richmond area man who developed liver cancer earlier this year, and hundreds of his friends formed "Team Tommy" and ran the Monument Ave. 10K last March in his honor. He is currently going through some very tough times. He and his family remain in my thoughts and prayers.
Note: Tommy died of liver cancer late in March, 2008.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
As my Team in Training efforts start to accelerate, I wanted to give an update about how things are going. The main focus of this note will be some additional questions I sometimes get about TNT.
The Arizona Marathon is about ten weeks away right now, and the next ten weeks will tell whether or not I can attain my training and fund-raising goals. I am giving it my best shot. If you want to check my training updates, updated photo, honoree list, and/or make a donation, you can do so at this link:
Thanks again to the 78 individual donors and one corporate donor who have contributed to date, as well as to the nine companies / individuals who donated items to the TNT Silent Auction on my behalf. Thanks to these donors, I have reached 35% of my fund-raising goal, and have raised nearly $2,000 in the last month. By the way, if you live in the Richmond area, we are having another Silent Auction this coming Thursday, November 8. It is at Champs Restaurant and Bar at the Stony Point Fashion Park from 7PM to 9PM.
My training had some more setbacks this past week, but I am hoping to be back on track soon, and did 10 miles yesterday.
Now, here are some questions I get, and my answers.
What is the rain date for the marathon? If it rains the day of the race, we sleep in until 10AM, are gently awakened by the scent of special aromatic candles and the sounds of soft music and ocean surf recordings, are served a huge breakfast in bed with Champaign and the finest chocolate truffles, and get a free deluxe spa treatment and massage. NOT! The rain date of the marathon is the date of the marathon. In my first marathon in Anchorage, Alaska, it rained about 22 of the 26.2 miles. That is why we train in all types of weather, other than thunderstorms. Getting electrocuted is not considered to be a desirable outcome of Team in Training.
Why not just raise money by asking people to donate to a good cause without doing the marathon? This is a tough one to answer, because people donate to good causes all the time without an endurance event being involved. However, Team in Training is the oldest and most successful fund raising and endurance event competition, and its success has led to many imitators. I think people generally respond to a great cause like curing blood cancers and providing services to cancer patients, but maybe they respond even more so if someone is willing to sacrifice for this cause by going through the rigors of marathon preparation and all that entails.
Do you think it is good for you to do a marathon? To that I would say: “compared to what?” In comparison to sitting on a sofa all day eating a couple of bags of chips and drinking a six pack, then yes, doing a marathon is good for you. But compared to a more moderate exercise, say a half marathon, I’m not sure if a marathon is good for you or not. I’m not a doctor, but I know doctors who do marathons (as well as “iron man” triathlons). So I guess at least it cannot be horrible for you. I will say that at about mile 21 or 22, you vow to never do another one. But then, when you cross the finish line just four or five miles later, you start thinking about the next one.
Why do you set your fund raising goal so high? Since I work so hard at this, and only do it every year or so, I want to maximize the amount of funds coming in to this important cause. So I set my goal high, $15,555.55 this year in celebration of surviving five years, and work as hard as I can to reach it. Politicians who raise millions for their campaigns would laugh at the amount of money that I am trying to raise, as they can get that much cash by looking under the sofa cushions of one of their wealthy donors. But I don’t know rich and famous people, nor can I offer special access or political favors in exchange for a donation, so I do it one donation at a time from ordinary people.
Do you get to keep any of the money that you raise as a bonus? Absolutely not! Whether a donation is by credit card, check, or cash, every single red cent goes to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and its mission.
Didn’t you ask me for a donation last year? There is a good chance I did, because this is the third straight year, more or less, that I have done Team in Training. Cancer has not gone away this year, and that is why I am putting my body through this a third time, and why I am again humbly asking for donations of any amount to LLS. Thank you!
Thanks for taking the time to read my note, and special thanks again if you have made, or plan to make, a donation to LLS through my Team in Training Efforts.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Now it looks like this week, I will have my first cold weather training. So far, everything has been in shorts and a tee, but those days are gone for now. I also got in my earliest training of the season last week, starting at 4:15AM to get in 8 miles. I call this starting at "O-Dark Hundred". Yep, I can tell we are coming down the stretch!
Sunday, October 21, 2007
This photo is just the walk team, at least all who were at training this day. From left to right, we are Suzanne, Theresa (my mentor), me, Michal (our walk coach), and Robbi. They are the best!
Theresa was training for Virginia Beach, but blew out an Achilles tendon, and signed on to the winter team. While I hate the fact that she hurt herself, I love having her on our team. She will be doing the PF Chang's half-marathon, her first event. So she will be my travel teammate for the trip to Arizona. Her husband, Warren, is wrapping up treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Suzanne is a champion fund-raiser for TNT.
Theresa is not only my mentor but a TNT participant, raising money for LLS while preparing for the Walt Disney Marathon. She is a half marathon vet, but this will be her first full 26.2 marathon. She is a great mentor, always positive and keeps us motivated. She is always out there training right along with us, and almost always puts out gummy worms for us - which we find with delight. She has pet ferrets, and is a proud and active Mary Baldwin grad.
Michal is our awesome coach, and she and I trained together in 2005 when we both did TNT for the first time - she doing San Diego and me Alaska, both of us walking a full marathon. She was a delight to train with, and still is. She is a dedicated and skilled coach. In April, she and her husband Tim will have their first baby, so she is slowing down on her training for now. But she is always out there with us, even if she can't always go the full miles. Like Theresa, she is also a proud Mary Baldwin grad! Go Squirrels!
Robbi is a lawyer that contradicts every lawyer joke you've ever heard because unlike the lawyers in the jokes, she is just a wonderful and fun person. She is a proud Penn State grad - go Nittany Lions - and although this is her first TNT event and first marathon, she once danced in like a 48 hour dance marathon. She makes training such fun because she is a great story teller and keeps us in stitches with her wonderful and lively stories. I know that come January, I will miss those stories.
These great women are the best and make every Saturday training fun - the miles just slip by no matter how far we are out there. It is wonderful to have teammates like these, so dedicated to our cause of curing blood cancers. I know that when we are all done, I will miss our weekly rendevous at Byrd Park.
On the fund raising front, we are preparing for our Silent Auction this Thursday night, October 25, at Relish in Shockoe Bottom. Join us if you can - free appetizers and lots of items to bid on!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Family reunions are always fun, and we had a good group there, including some extended family members. We had people coming from six states to celebrate my sister’s birthday a bit late, and my Step-dad’s birthday. The hiking that my two brothers and I did was more of a quick afternoon get-away, starting pretty late in the day. The days are so much shorter in October, but the weather was perfect for a hike. The Catskills are a pretty area, but are not nearly as rugged as the Adirondacks. The trail to connect to the main trail was a little confusing, and coming back near dusk, we missed part of the trail and ended up finally just guessing where to go. By the time we got out, it was nearly dark. You would think that three guys all fairly experienced in the outdoors would have brought at least one GPS receiver between them.
My other workout occurred this past Sunday, when I did a 19.5 mile round trip hike to North Carolina from Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It was further than I was supposed to train, but it felt really cool to hike all the way to NC and back. The weather was gorgeous, and many miles of the walk were along a beautiful and remote beach. Hiking to the NC border and back was another event that I wanted to do to celebrate surviving cancer for five years, and of course I wanted a photo at the border. Just as certainly, both sets of batteries for my camera, which I had recharged only a week ago, were totally dead. They did last long enough to get this photo of the entrance to False Cape State Park, about four miles into my walk:
The hike is very flat, as this is essentially the Outer Banks of Virginia. The first four miles go through Back Bay Wildlife Refuge, with many views of marshes, sloughs, ponds, and water-filled ditches created by dikes. There is almost always wildlife to be seen: a variety of turtles, ducks, geese, herons, egrets, rails and other wading birds, seabirds, deer, gray fox, coyote, raccoon, and snakes. There are also supposedly bobcat and there are definitely feral hogs, although I’ve never seen these species. I’ve seen wild horses on at least a few occasions.
Once out of Back Bay, you come to False Cape State Park, which has to be one of the most remote beaches on the east coast, since it is a four mile walk or bike ride. This too has a variety of wildlife and environments, but the way I went, you come to a beautiful beach after about a mile and a half. From there it is a straight shot of nearly five miles to the North Carolina border, all pristine beach. On my entire walk through False Cape, I saw one other person until I got to North Carolina. There is a large fence at the border to keep cars out of Virginia, because people actually drive something like 12 miles up the beach from Corolla, NC to get to their huge beach homes at the border. I imagine beach property is a lot less when there aren’t any roads, but it still must be incredibly expensive.
I did the hike back entirely on the beach, which was nine miles of walking. I saved a couple miles by not going through the marshes and trails of the park and the wildlife refuge. When I was nearly back to the parking lot in Back Bay, there was a friendly couple fishing in the surf. When I told them I had just walked 20 miles, they reached into a cooler and produced an ice-cold Sierra Nevada pale ale. It was one of the most delicious things I ever drank.
After the nearly 20 mile walk, I took a long ice water bath. I am now trying to recover from sore muscles and blisters, and will do more conventional marathon training in the coming weeks.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
There is a tee-shirt that I see at some of the marathons, and it says “If you think a marathon is hard, try chemotherapy!” Well, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience both chemotherapy and marathons, and I guarantee you that this is a true statement. Trust me on this one.
OK, I can sense what you are thinking: “Fortunate to experience chemotherapy??? Is he nuts?” Well maybe, but let me explain. I did my marathons 3 and 4 years after starting chemo. So since I got lymphoma by the luck of the draw, I am fortunate that there was a way to treat it, and I am fortunate that I survived, got healthy again, and got strong enough to do two marathons. Lots of people are not nearly as lucky as I am.
Thanks again to the 68 people / couples who donated to LLS through me, putting me at about 23% of my goal. You can get detailed information about what I am doing and make a donation if you so choose by going to my TNT web page:
I’ve done two marathons, and will do my third this coming January. I’ve done chemotherapy once, for six months, and would just as soon never have to repeat the experience. From notes and emails, I’d like to compare the two “endurance events” next to each other. Judge for yourself which one sounds tougher. Here are some notes from different points along the Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage in 2005, each note followed by a fragment from an email from either Mary or me to family in friends in 2002 when I was undergoing chemo:
Milepost 4 – Feeling good, striding along. Mountains are so pretty. Rain has slackened. How cool to be doing my first marathon in Alaska of all places – I feel so grateful.
June 7, 2002 (Art): Yesterday afternoon I had the radio on and Beethoven's 7th symphony was playing. Part way through I got a sudden urge to kneel on the floor and pay homage to the porcelain god and rushed into the bathroom, wrapping my arms around his cool being. In case you non-classical music fans are wondering, the sudden urge to puke was not initiated by the music but by my 4 toxic buddies.
Milepost 11 – Solid rain, forget about pictures. The trail climbs and is narrower now, very slick and muddy. We spray mud with each stride over ourselves and each others. Will this rain ever stop? Where is this midnight sun we keep hearing so much about?
August 8, 2002 (Art): I am feeling sick today and also so tired, but it goes with the territory. Better days ahead.
Milepost 24 – Oh, my God! I know I will finish now. I do two miles all of the time. I will be a marathoner today. The blisters will heal, the cold and wet fade, the sore muscles recover, but I will always be a marathoner. I feel a huge smile.
August 29, 2002 (Mary): Art is still in the hospital. Of course, he is hoping to be released soon, but his doctor has given no indication when that will be. The blood cultures are negative so far, so the fever is FUO - fever of unknown origin. (note – it turned out later that the fever was from lung damage caused by one of the chemo drugs).
Milepost 25 – A mile to go is nothing. Rain coming in sideways. At 25.75 Coach Bob meets me with his moose head hat. I start talking, then babbling. I tell him about my friend Allan and his birthday today, how he just died of cancer. I tell him about some of the other names on my shirt. I start talking about how I swore I would do something like this when I had cancer, and now I was doing it. I realize that I am close to tears and have to shut up for a while.
October 3, 2002 (Art): Today marks the 4 month anniversary of the first chemo, which at the time seemed like a very long period ahead to face. I remember going in that first day feeling somewhat scared about starting it, now it just seems routine and I go in smiling figuring it is one step closer to completion. It is nice to be on the downward side of this thing from all indications to date.
Milepost 26 – My God, thanks for this. I am nearly a marathoner! I feel strong. Everything hurts, feet, legs, but the feeling is great. My smile feels a mile wide as I cross the finish line at 26.2. Three years, two weeks, and one day after starting ABVD chemotherapy and feeling so scared that day, I am a marathoner!
November 11, 2002 (Mary): Well, we have come to the end of the first week of the last 28 day chemo cycle! Art seems to have had a hard time of it this week. He is more tired, more hoarse, and in more of a "chemo fog" than he has been in several months.
Crossing the finish line in Anchorage was an incredible and uplifting feeling, maybe the proudest day of my life. In a totally different way, crossing that last chemotherapy “finish line” and knowing that my days in the chemo room were finished felt just great! It was a tough, but life saving, process. Every second of every day, there are incredible numbers of people going through everything that I went through with cancer, and experiencing much, much worse things.
The primary mission of the LLS is to cure blood cancers. I am trying to be part of that, to make that lofty goal possible. Those of you who have made a donation, or will make a donation, are part of that as well. Wouldn’t it be great if in five, 10, or 15 years, there were tee-shirts that read “If you think that chemotherapy is hard, try running a marathon?” Help me to help make it so!
Best wishes, and thanks.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
I posted the following on my TNT fund-raising web page:
SURVIVORS! This photo was from the 2006 Rock N Roll Marathon in San Diego. It was June 4, 2006 and Sharon, Nicki, and I were up well before dawn to each go 26.2 miles to help in the fight against cancer - a day that none of us will ever forget. As challenging as a marathon is, each of the three of us had already been through something much more difficult - surviving cancer. Sharon survived breast cancer, Nicki non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and I Hodgkin lymphoma. So each of us was more than willing to exert ourselves in the hope of making a difference in finding a cure for blood cancers, and for all cancers. Thanks for helping us make a difference!
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Here I am, about ten weeks into my efforts to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society while training for the P.F. Chang’s Arizona Marathon in January. I wanted to give an update about how things are going, and talk again about our mission.
Thanks again to the 61 people / couples who donated to LLS through me, putting me at about 18% of my goal. You can get detailed information about what I am doing and make a donation if you so choose by going to my TNT web page:
I appreciate donations of any amount, and will gladly add the name of someone you want to honor with your donation to my web page and race singlet.
After a month of minimal training, my cut foot finally healed enough for me to put on running shoes again. In the prior month, I’d done some running and walking barefoot on a beach, and some sessions on a stair-stepper in Crocs, but it feels great to be out there with running shoes on again. I walked and ran 13 miles over the weekend, and hope to just keep going now.
Each of us in Team in Training is inspired by our patient honorees. Team Richmond has a number of these brave survivors, and I always write their names on my shirt. Today I wanted to share a little bit about five of our team’s patient honorees. Thinking about what they and their families have been through makes it easier for us to get up at O-Dark Hundred and train in all kinds of weather. By comparison with dealing with cancer, chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants, doing a marathon is not so hard. My fervent goal is that by participating in TNT and hopefully continuing to motivate and inspire generous people to make donations, that in the future it won’t be such an awful experience to get through cancer. Every five minutes, another American is diagnosed with a blood cancer – here is the story of five of them.
Emma is seven years old and loves all kinds of animals, but especially lions, tigers, cats, dogs, jaguars, cheetahs, rabbits, fish, turtles, leopards and elephants. When Emma was 10 weeks old, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Her parents did not expect her to survive the weekend and prepared to say goodbye to their little baby. But after a lot of horrific treatments and most of her first year of life in the hospital, she did indeed survive and is now in remission 6.5 years. I never fail to get inspired and more determined to make a difference when I think of Emma and her family, and a picture I saw of Emma as a baby with a body swollen from chemo and needles and tubes all over the place. But then, seeing a photo of a healthy and happy Emma swimming with dolphins is also inspirational, because it shows the possibilities of what cancer research can accomplish.
Nicki is 31 and is a ten year + survivor of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She survived due to a bone marrow transplant in 1997, which is a very tough thing to go through. Her transplant was from an unrelated donor who got on the donor registry to try to help an eight year old boy, who unfortunately died before a donor could be found. Nicki enjoys sports of all kinds, reading, and spending time with her family and friends. Nicki also has done several events for TNT and in 2006 was my marathon teammate in San Diego. Nicki is a constant inspiration to me. By the way, every day, people’s lives are dependent on finding a bone marrow match, so you might want to consider getting on the registry. I’ve been on it since about 1990.
Ed got Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) at age 19, about the same age as Nicki was when she went through lymphoma. Also like Nicki, Ed survived due to a bone marrow transplant: a gift of life from one of his sisters. He is married to a great gal named Leslie. He likes to renovate real estate, travel, attend festivals, and participate in TNT events. Ed has completed at least 11 events for TNT, including marathons, 100 mile bike rides, and triathlons, making him a “Triple Crown” winner. Incredible! Ed is a constant inspiration to me.
Paul is 47 and loves to bike, ski, and play frisbee. He is married with three children. Paul was diagnosed over two years ago with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a slow growing cancer for which there is no cure. Despite having cancer, Paul does century (100 mile) bike rides for TNT to raise money for the LLS. How inspirational is that? And how inspirational is it to think that the hard work we put in now and the money we raise could some day soon lead to a cure for CLL?
Eric is 46 and, with his wife Beth, has two children – along with two dogs and a cat. He has Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia (WM), which is a rare cancer that affects bone marrow, blood, and lymphatic tissue. Eric is currently in partial remission, as WM is treatable but not curable. Eric likes to play golf, do home remodeling, and spend time with his family. Just like with Paul, it inspires me to think that maybe the money that you generously donate can lead to a cure for WM and make a huge difference in these patients’ lives.
These five people are an inspiration to everyone involved with TNT Richmond. I hope that you realize that your donation makes a difference in the lives of real people like Emma, Nicki, Ed, Paul, and Eric. Every ten minutes, another American dies from a blood cancer, so there is plenty more to do.
Best wishes, and thanks.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Buying the Crocs a few weeks ago really helped, because I could wear a shoe without pressure on the heel. I would do workouts on the elliptical machine in the crocs, and so got at least some exercise. Then, running and walking barefoot on the beach a few times was very helpful. I know that in time, three miles will again feel like three miles, not eight.
Monday, September 3, 2007
September 3, 2007. The original idea was to write something about completing the Virginia Beach Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon as part of my five year cancer survival celebration. After all, I had signed up and paid the entry fee several months ago. But my heel did not cooperate, even three weeks after the damage. I put on running shoes the night before, along with a thick bandage, and knew after 50 feet that it would be a huge mistake.
Upon arriving at Virginia Beach, I went to the expo to pick up my race packet and tee-shirt, but before I got there my friend Nicki called me to say that my picture was in the program! What I had written (see my blog post “My Submission for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon”) was used in part for the program as well, so it was really cool to see that when I got my race program. I talked to the first aid station about my ideas for protecting my foot. They looked at the injury and told me that it might be difficult to protect it, given the location.
That night, when I tried going out with the bandage on my heel, and quickly realized that I was not going to do this race without risking serious pain and maybe injury, I was really disappointed. Thinking it over, I realized that if I couldn’t do the race, I could at least support my friends who were in it. So I again was a cheerleader, and got a lot of happiness seeing so many dear friends doing the race and having a good time. Some of my friends that I saw include Michal, Nicki, Robbi, Theresa, "Chuck Squared", Lynn, Kristi, Jamal, Betty, "Holly-and-Amanda", Dian, Chelle, Vicki, Tim, Coach Bob, ... I know that I've missed some, and I know that some people went by so fast that I couldn't pick them out in the crowd. It was really disappointing to miss the race, but great to be alive to see it and to cheer for my friends. Plus, since the injury only hurts with shoes on, I did get in a 4 - 5 mile run and walk on the beach in my bare feet. It felt great to be moving again!
Plus for my $75 race fee, I got my photo in the program and a cool tee-shirt! It's a great race - if you ever have a chance to do it, go for it!
Friday, August 31, 2007
Five years ago this month, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. After six months of chemo, including potentially serious lung damage, I went into remission and was cancer free. I was extremely lucky in many ways, not the least of which was that the lung damage, which could have been fatal, was apparently healed.
My experience surviving cancer made me realize a lot of things, including the importance of medical technology. I swore when I was ill that I would use my experience to help others some day. I learned about Team in Training and in 2005 signed up to walk the Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage, my first event ever other than a 10K a few months before. Then in 2006, I walked the Rock N Roll in San Diego for the same cause - that race was four years and one day after starting chemo. I am not a great runner, but am a fast walker and enjoy being out there, trying to make a difference. I am not fund raising for this race, but will later in the year for TNT, probably for PF Chang’s in Arizona to celebrate five years in remission the end of this year.
I have wanted to do the Virginia Beach half-marathon for a couple of years. This year especially, now being a five year cancer survivor, I am trying to do a number of events to celebrate surviving lymphoma and chemotherapy, and having good health again, and I really wanted to add this race to this list. Also, I have many friends from TNT doing it. I want to do this race to honor and inspire anyone with cancer. I especially honor three patient honorees from our Richmond team: Nicki, Ed, and Emma. Also, my sister Ann currently has breast cancer, and I want to do anything that I can do to encourage and inspire her to get better.
If, as a cancer survivor who is now also a two-time marathoner, I can in some way inspire someone else who is currently ill to keep their chin up, fight to get better, stay positive, and maybe someday be motivated to do something to make a difference in the world, then I can ask for no better outcome from my experience.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
August 30, 2007 message to Fall Rock ‘N’ Roll Virginia Beach Team
Hi Rock N Rollers! Have a great race Sunday. If my foot heals by then I hope to see you in the race. If it is still too sore, look for me cheering you on, probably at the McDonalds near Birdneck. If you see me then wave, because everyone goes by so fast and in such a crowd that it is hard to pick people out.
I hope that you feel proud of all that you have accomplished. Even though a lot of people now survive cancer, there are plenty of others who don’t and your hard work will continue to improve the odds. And even the ones who are lucky like me and survive find that the treatment is no picnic. Five years ago in this exact week I was in the hospital feeling just awful, I think the worst I’ve ever felt in my life. It turns out that bleomycin, one of the chemo drugs, was damaging my lungs. Had I continued with that drug, I likely would have had irreversible and possibly lethal, pulmonary damage. I was so lucky to not only survive cancer but also bleomycin, and to have recovered most if not all of my lung function. Wouldn’t it be great if future anti-cancer drugs would go right to the offending cells, and leave the rest of the patient’s body alone? From what I learn, this is becoming more and more likely, and you are helping to make this possible too.
Keep up the great work, and have a great time at the Beach!
Monday, August 27, 2007
Here I am, about seven weeks into my efforts to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society while training for the P.F. Chang’s Arizona Marathon in January. I wanted to give an update about how things are going.
My training update is a rare one for me – inactivity! I’ve essentially been a couch potato for two weeks since getting careless and having a chunk cut out of my heel by our storm door. Although not getting up at 4:45 to train is kind of nice, I generally hate the inactivity and can’t wait to be back out there, especially with the Rock ‘N’ Roll half-marathon this weekend.
As far as fund-raising is going, I again thank the 45 people who have joined my “Cancer Kickin’ Team” by making a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. These generous people have donated over $2,100, representing nearly 14% of my goal. You can get detailed information about what I am doing and make a donation if you so choose by going to my TNT web page:
I appreciate donations of any amount, and will gladly add the name of someone you want to honor with your donation to my web page and race singlet.
If you listen to Public Radio at all, you may occasionally hear commentary by Leroy Sievers, who has stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to his lungs and to his spine and brain. He also has an extraordinary blog that I have subscribed to, which he updates every weekday. His entries often strike a chord with me, even though my personal situation five years ago was nowhere as desperate as his is. Here is an entry that Mr. Sievers wrote last summer that I really liked:
• Waiting for the Cavalry
Posted: 25 Jul 2006 05:35 AM CDT
“Wait for the cavalry. They should be here any minute. Or month. Or year. That's sort of the advice that many cancer patients are given. Just hang on as long as you can. People are working on this. There should be a breakthrough any day now. There have been tremendous advances in the treatment of cancer. And new research offers new hope. So doctors will tell you to just try to hang on, try to live as long as you can and maybe the cavalry will get here in time. It's sort of amazing that with all of the money, time and knowledge that has been poured into the war on cancer, that there still isn't a cure. How could that be? Is it really that tough? Apparently so...”
Well, cancer is a very tough foe, both personally for those who have it, and for those doctors and researchers trying to find a cure. This latter group is the cavalry. That is where you all come in – if you make a donation, you are helping to keep the “cavalry” supplied with the things they need to ride to the rescue. But instead of horses, saddles, guns, and sabers, your generous donations are used to provide the things that medical researchers need, and things that can help support patients and their families through the ordeal.
I was really, really lucky. I did not need the cavalry. People back in the 1970’s and 1980’s saw to that by developing effective, if pretty awful, treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma. In my case, if I could survive the chemo, which I almost did not, I had an 80% chance of living at least five years. I cannot tell you the incredible joy and gratitude that I felt in May 2002 when I learned that I had Hodgkin lymphoma, and not some tough-as-nails non-Hodgkin type. I felt like I had won the lottery! But so many others are not as lucky as I was and are hanging on by their fingernails for the cavalry to arrive. Every dollar each of us in Team in Training raises gets us that much closer to a cure. So if you would like to help, or have already, thanks again – I appreciate it, and many who will never know you will thank you as well.
Best wishes, and thanks.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Other than some weights and some eliptical workouts wearing my open heeled Crocs, I am out of action. With the open wound, even using the pool is out. Normally I do water aerobics once or twice a week, so I miss that. I am in good enough shape that I can finish the half-marathon, but I am wondering for the first time if this injury will heal in time for the race, which is only about a week in the future.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
It is still very painful today, and I am guessing that I need at least one more week to heal. So this morning, I went out as a cheerleader for the team, but without the pom-poms or megaphone. For this week, that is the best that I could do, but I really hope to be more active this coming week, and definitely the week after with the Rock 'N Roll half-marathon in Virginia Beach coming up!
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
I like to send out periodic updates about how I am doing with Team in Training as I prepare for the Arizona marathon in January. In this one, I discuss some questions I get about Team in Training and cancer.
First, thanks to the 26 people who have joined my “Cancer Kickin’ Team” by making a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. You can get detailed information about what I am doing and make a donation if you so choose by going to my TNT web page:
I appreciate donations of any amount, and will gladly add the name of someone you want to honor with your donation to my web page and race singlet.
Now, to those questions that I sometimes get asked.
How many days will it take you to do the marathon? A lady on a trolley asked me this last year in San Diego, and my answer was that I would be very disappointed if I didn’t finish the same day. A world-class male distance runner can run 26.2 miles in 2 and 15 minutes or less. This means that the winner of a marathon is finishing about the same time as I am getting out of the first porta-potty line. The top 10 males finishers in Boston in 2007 were all under 2:18:07, meaning they averaged a mile every five and quarter minutes. For me to even qualify in the Boston Marathon, I would need to complete a marathon in less than three hours and 45 minutes. Being a generous guy, I am going to let someone have my spot in Boston next year. My goal is to do the Arizona marathon in five hours 55 minutes and 55 seconds or less. The winner of the race will have time to shower up, watch a movie, and have a few beers before I get done.
Which is harder, fund raising or marathon training? Believe it or not, fund raising is, because it is out of my control while training is mostly in my control. If I put in the sacrifices to train, don’t get hurt, and am very determined on race day, I will finish the marathon. With fund raising, I can do everything in my power but whether I succeed or not is mostly up to lots of people deciding whether or not to donate. Plus, it often feels uncomfortable asking people for money, even though it is not for me. On the other hand, I never have to get up at 4AM to fund raise.
Which is harder, chemotherapy, fund raising or marathon training? Duh!
If I want to donate but don’t want to use the web page, how can I do a check? Simply make a check out to “Leukemia and Lymphoma Society”, or even just LLS, and get in touch with me via e-mail, and I’ll make arrangements to get it.
Did you lose your hair during chemotherapy? Yes, just about all of it. But thank goodness, one special area still had plenty of hair – my ears! I could look at myself in the mirror and see hardly any head hair, and very thin eyelashes and eyebrows, but my ears looked like a small rain forest was growing in them. Every day, I would give thanks that I had not lost my ear hair. If that had ever happened, I don’t think I would have had the courage to go on, and would have crawled up in a ball in a corner, sobbing and whimpering. A man can only take so much, and losing my ear hair would have pushed me over the edge.
I get asked to donate to a lot of charities. Why should I pick this one? If you are like me, you get several charitable solicitations every week. We donate to a wide variety of these throughout the year. But you can’t give to them all, so how to choose? One criteria might be “does the solicitor have a personal commitment to their cause?” Anyone doing fund raising for a cause by way of an endurance event, be it a marathon, long bike ride, or triathlon certainly does. We put our heart and soul into this (not to say our legs and feet)! In addition to many “ordinary” charities, we regularly donate to many folks doing endurance events or even short walks for good causes. I hope you will consider my cause as well, if you have not already made a donation. You can donate online or with a check, and all donations are 100% tax deductible:
What does LLS do with the money? The mission of LLS is to cure blood cancers, and to improve the quality of life for patients and their families. The LLS has programs in three major areas: (1) donations to cancer research ($61 million annually in support of over 200 researchers) (2) patient services, and (3) advocacy. For more information go to http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/. LLS is a very highly rated charity, but any charity has to spend some money that does not go directly to their mission. In the case of LLS, about 25% of their revenues goes to administrative and fund-ra ising expenses, and about 75% goes to their mission.
Why do you keep doing this? I participate in TNT for a lot of reasons: to make a difference, to raise money for a great cause, for the camaraderie of the team, and to continue to improve my conditioning. But I also wanted to make a personal statement that cancer patients can survive and be strong. If, as a cancer survivor who is now also a two-time marathoner and going for three, I can in some way inspire someone else who is currently ill to keep their chin up, fight to get better, stay positive, and maybe someday be motivated to do something to make a difference in the world, then I can ask for no better outcome fr om my experience.
I really appreciate your time to read my message. Thanks for your interest and support. Training is starting to get underway in earnest, and I will continue with periodic updates as my efforts progress.
Enjoy the day!
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Some of the others are / were: the Monument Avenue Ukrops 10K last spring; my annual hike to Rip Rap Hollow in Shenandoah National Park; hiking in New Hampshire; hiking to the North Carolina border and back from Back Bay Wildlife Refuge; and the culmination being the 2008 PF Chang's Arizona Marathon!
Here I am in the 58 (F) degree swimming hole at Rip Rap Hollow this past July. I try to do this hike every summer. In 2003, it was my first hike of over a mile or two since surviving cancer, and it always reminds me of being healthy enough to hike again, and how grateful I am for that. On this trail over the past few years, I've seen bear twice, a timber rattler - nearly stepped on him - and a box turtle. It is a beautiful 9.6 mile hike in Shenandoah National Park, the only downside being that the last 3 miles are all uphill while climbing out of the stream valley. So by the time you hike out of there, all hot and sweaty, the cool dip in Rip Rap Hollow is a distant memory.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
If you want to see many more photos of this trip, go to this link:
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
There have been some disturbing rumors going around about me and Team in Training (TNT), so I wanted to set the record straight.
Rumor # 1 – Did you hear that Art wimped out this year and is not doing TNT? This is completely false. I can see why this rumor may have started, because unlike 2005 and 2006, I did not sign up for a TNT event in the spring. The reason is that I will hit my five year remission from Hodgkin lymphoma on December 9, and I wanted to do an event as close as possible to that date. I have signed up for the P. F. Chang Marathon in Arizona, and have set up a fund raising page – please visit!
I’ll be updating the photo and progress information every week or so, so I hope you will want to check my web page often.
Rumor # 2 – Did you hear that Art is too old to do a marathon? I have to tell you, this rumor is so patently false that I almost didn’t dignify it with a response. Sure, in a few days, I’ll be 56. Now to someone that is 20 or 30, that age may appear pretty close to a fossil, but 56 is really not that old. I won’t set a world record, but I will do my best and hopefully set a personal record. I’ve learned that when you are capable of doing something, you had better do it, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
Rumor # 3 – Did you know that blood cancers are all cured? So there is no need for Art to do TNT again. This is one rumor that I wish were true, but sadly, it isn’t. Every 10 minutes in the USA alone, someone dies from a blood cancer of some type. Even the “curable” ones, like Hodgkin lymphoma that I am so familiar with, have over a 10% mortality rate, and for a number of blood cancers, there is no cure or even effective treatment. Help me change that!
Rumor # 4 – Did you know that Grandpas and Grandmas must user walkers or canes to do marathons? Oh, how false this is! I became a grandpa last November. One of the highlights of being fortunate enough to survive cancer was to live long enough to see and hold my little granddaughter, Aja. Way too many people with cancer will not have this opportunity. And I hope that my efforts, and your generosity, will eventually mean more people with cancer live to see their grandchildren, or to see their kids graduate, or to graduate themselves. Anyhow, grandparents are not required to use a walker to compete in a marathon. This is one grandpa who is not yet ready for a walker, cane, or rocking chair!
Rumor # 5 – Did you hear that Art is running for president in 2008 and that is why he is not doing TNT? I categorically deny that rumor! I can see how it got started. First, nearly every US citizen appears to be in the 2008 race. Second, I am hiking the Presidential Range in New Hampshire in a couple of weeks, so maybe that caused confusion. I am not running for President, but I am doing TNT again (see rumor # 1). Of course, like most Americans, I did form a Presidential Exploratory Committee, which came up with the following slogan for me:
In 2008, cast your vote for Art Ritter.
For Prez he’s first rate, always upbeat, not bitter.
But my exploratory committee found out that I was only projected to receive 74 votes in the whole country, and two of them were from my cats, so I gave up the idea. Of course if anyone running for political office categorically denies anything, they are lying – so you’ll have to be the final judge of this. I surely wish I could raise funds for the LLS as easily as presidential candidates bring in tens of millions of dollars with a few phone calls. Along those lines, I am thinking about taking a page from the presidential playbook, and having a $5,000 a plate fund raiser for TNT. You pay for a delicious dinner of “rubber chicken” with some overcooked veggies, and you’ll get to hob-nob with every rich and famous person I know. Plus, included in the $5,000 donation, you get your picture taken with me. Hey, if it works for the Clintons, the Guilianis, the Obamas, and the Romneys, why shouldn’t it work for me, especially since the cause is so much better?
Rumor # 6 – Did you know that Art only appreciates large donations? This is false. Of course large donations are thrilling but every donation is appreciated, and each one gets me that much closer to my goal, just as each step in the marathon gets me a little closer to finishing.
Rumor # 7 – Did you know that Art only will write an honoree name on his shirt if you donate $100 or more? False, false, false! A donation of any amount is the only thing required for me to add their name to my web page and to my race singlet. Regardless of what type of cancer they had or have, regardless of the donation amount, I will gladly add your loved one to my honoree list. I get a great deal of strength on race day of thinking of all of the honorees and what they have all been through.
Rumor # 8 – Did you know that Art did not hit his fund-raising goal last year, and so he lowered his goal this time around? The first part is true – I did not reach my goal last year. The second part is false, as I have raised my goal this year to $15,555. (Do you see a pattern with “fives” this time around?) When it comes to fund-raising for TNT, I apply a saying by Michelangelo: “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark”. I plan on hitting my goal, but my goal can only really be attained with the help and generosity of many, many people.
I would really appreciate you visiting my web page, considering a donation of any amount, and passing on the link to friends and family if you feel so compelled:
In my first update email posting in a couple of weeks, I’ll discuss some questions I sometimes get asked about Team in Training.
Thanks again for considering a donation, and enjoy the day!
Monday, July 9, 2007
This will be my third marathon for Team in Training. I am now a five-year cancer survivor. In December, I will be in remission for five years, and that makes this marathon a really special one. A lot of cancer patients never make it to five years, but I have, and I've done two marathons along the way. I am one fortunate guy, and if I can raise some money that helps to solve blood cancers to pass that fortune on to someone else, I can't think of a better thing to do.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
In late May, the biopsy confirmed Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lethal a few decades ago and still life threatening, but now one of the most curable cancers. Several of the non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas cannot currently be cured, and my wife Mary and I were very grateful that I had the Hodgkin’s variety. Someone hearing us shout for joy in the car on the way home about having this type of cancer would have thought that we were nuts! I started chemotherapy within 2 weeks of the biopsy results. It consisted of 36 treatments of 4 nasty drugs spread out over essentially 6 months. I was told that, even though the cancer had spread from the chest to the abdomen and was considered stage 3 (of 4 stages), I had an 80% chance of recovery – outstanding when you are talking cancer. The treatments were rigorous and made me feel very ill over long periods of time, but they saved my life and were tolerable if you take life a day at a time instead of thinking “6 months”!
After three months, one of the chemo drugs was causing lung damage and I ended up in the hospital seriously ill. I decided that this drug had to be discontinued, because the lung doctor felt that further doses would result in me being a pulmonary cripple or dead. I was more scared of being a pulmonary cripple than I was of dying of lymphoma. The oncologist felt that enough progress had been made that finishing with only three drugs would eliminate the estimated 10-20% of the tumor estimated to remain after 3 months.
I finished the chemo after 6 months, and a CT scan confirmed that the tumors were gone, and I returned to work after this point. During chemo, I tried to maintain a good diet to the extent my stomach allowed and I tried to walk for exercise whenever I was able. I am fortunate that the lung damage was caught in time so that it was largely reversed within a few months. I have now been in remission since December, 2002.
In 2005, I participated in the Midnight Sun Marathon in Alaska as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training to raise money for LLS programs. I looked on this as some serious “giving back in some small measure for what I received” and as proof that we can not only survive cancer, but be strong and accomplish difficult things. Since that time, I have completed the Rock 'N' Roll Marathon in San Diego in 2006, the P.F. Changs Arizona Marathon in 2008, the Country Music Half Marathon in 2009, and the Seattle Half Marathon in 2010 for the same cause, raising over $50,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. And in 2011, I walked nearly 60 miles in three days while raising over $8,000 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, in memory of my sister, Ann. She died in May of that year from this horrible disease.
Although I felt physically awful a lot during the treatment, at no time did I feel angry (the “why me” syndrome) or emotionally devastated about having cancer. I tried to look on it as the luck of the draw, an obstacle to overcome, and an opportunity to grow and become stronger. It has made me appreciate life even more than I did before, and also have more empathy for people who get sick and what they go through. It made me want to do something to help others afflicted by cancers. My main attitude and emotion, then and now, is gratitude for the following:
- That I had a curable form of cancer that was detected before it had taken over my body.
- For the strong and loving support of my wife, Mary, and for the support and help of many family and friends.
- That I didn’t have something much worse than cancer
- That medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies have figured out so much in the last 20 - 30 years about fighting this and other cancers.
- That doctors and nurses choose careers to understand and combat these diseases, and for their knowledge, dedication, and training.
- To God for giving me a good fighting chance and for giving me the positive attitude and courage to fight through this ordeal.
- That I was strong enough physically and mentally to withstand the rigors of the treatment.
- That I worked for a company that thinks enough of their employees to provide great medical and disability insurance benefits, and that stood behind me during the ordeal.
- That I had a good job to go back to once my treatment was over.
- That, even on the really tough days, I could find individual hours and moments when life seemed very good and could be enjoyed.
- To all those who have gone before me and suffered considerably, with courage and often with lethal results, as their doctors worked to learn how to fight these diseases.
- That anti-nausea medications exist, which make the treatments much less difficult than even 10 years ago.
- For any period of time, even a few hours, when I felt relatively well while undergoing the treatment, especially when it meant eating something tasty.
- That my lung damage was caught in time to heal.
- To be alive with the expectation of future good health and the enjoyment of what life has to offer us all.
This is me, in late June 2002, after a few weeks on chemotherapy. My hair was starting to fall out, and I had gotten a second buzz cut so that it wouldn't be so messy. Little did I know that day that in six years, I would not only be a cancer survivor, but a three time marathoner.