Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Obviously, Richmond, Virginia was the Capital of the Confederacy during most of the American Civil War. For nearly a century after Reconstruction, Virginia was part of the “Jim Crow” system that fostered desegregation and discrimination against peoples of color, right here in the USA! In 1951, a courageous 16 year old girl named Barbara Rose Johns had had enough of the substandard conditions at all-black Moten High School in Prince Edward Country, Virginia, and organized a student strike with the goal of having equal facilities and educational opportunities. The Reverend L. Francis Griffin consolidated parental support of the strike and encouraged the students to ask for assistance from the NAACP. The NAACP took the case, and eventually this case (Davis vs. Prince Edward County) and four others went to the Supreme Court as part of the famous “Brown vs. The Board of Education” case in 1954. Some see Ms. John’s actions and the resulting “Davis” lawsuit as the beginning of the modern civil rights movement in the USA:
If you are younger than about 50, you cannot remember all the tumult and rage in the 1950’s and 1960’s over the struggle to get equal opportunity and rights for all citizens. It was not until the Civil Rights Amendment of 1965 that legally everyone had equal rights – 100 years after the end of the Civil War! I still cannot help but be amazed that in my life time – and I am not all THAT old yet – I lived in a time when some Americans legally received substandard educations, could not vote, could be excluded from clubs and activities, could not stay in a hotel or eat in a restaurant, use a public swimming pool, or even drink out of a water fountain. And now, thank God, all that has all changed.
Incidentally, my oldest sister Clare, a young white woman from Pennsylvania at the time, was a participant in the voter registration drives in the Deep South during the early 1960’s. It was a turbulent, violent, hostile, and dangerous place to be. Shortly after the passage of the Civil Rights Amendment, she and several other white people who went with a group to celebrate were kicked out of the restaurant by the owner. He told them “The law says I have to serve these damned n---- but it doesn’t say I have to serve you damned n---- lovers!” I applaud her for her courage and for standing up for her beliefs and for what needed to be done.
On the State Capital Grounds last Monday - July 21, 2008 - a beautiful and moving memorial was dedicated to Barbara Johns, the other students and parents in the case, the Reverend Griffin, two of the prominent lawyers – Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson, and to the Civil Rights Movement in general. I was fortunate to be present. All of the speeches were great and there was a big crowd despite the baking sun – black, white, and Asian (maybe American Indian, too); male and female; young, middle-aged, and old; famous and unknown. Many relatives and some of the original people involved a half century + ago were present for the dedication. When the cloth shielding the sculpture from view were dropped, I was on the side where bronzes of modern day young people were advancing together to learn. I had tears form in my eyes – it was that moving!
This sculpture was the first on our beautiful and historic capital grounds that (1) depicts a female (2) depicts a non-Caucasian (3) depicts young people (4) emphasizes not just our history but our future. I am sure that many in the crowd never felt that they would see the day when a sculpture honoring minorities would be on display on the state capital of the Old Dominion. As Governor Tim Kaine said in his speech “How do you like the NEW Virginia?” The crowd cheered its approval!
Unfortunately, I forgot my camera during the ceremony but brought it back the other day to get these photos. The sculptor is Stanley Bleifeld:
Barbara Johns and Motin High School Protestors:
NAACP Attorneys Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson, celebrating the landmark 1954 decision that outlawed "Separate by Equal":
Bright and eager students moving together towards a bright future (remember what others went through before you, kids, in order for you to get a good education – put it to great use!). The quote says "The Legal System can force open doors and sometimes even knock down walls, but it cannot build bridges. That job belongs to you and me." - Thurgood Marshall:
The monument to the struggle for Civil Rights in our nation and in Virginia sits in the shadow of our beautiful Capital Building, designed by Thomas Jefferson, and once the Capital of the Confederacy for nearly four years:
This statue of former Virginia Governor and Senator Harry Flood Byrd is directly east about 500 feet from the new Civil Rights Memorial. Fortunately, this Senator, who I am sure also did many fine things, is facing south, not east towards the new monument, for he was one of the architects of “Massive Resistance” in the years following the “Brown” decision. I wonder what he would think were he alive today to see his monument and that dedicated to civil rights standing so close to one another?
My next posts will be back to TNT, marathons, etc. but this was a special and historic event for which I had to digress. If you are ever in Richmond, make sure you see this memorial and our Capital, made all the more beautiful, and inclusive, with its latest addition!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
What should I do with this blog next? I am not training for an event, but plan to start formally training my next one in November. I say formally because I try to stay in at least semi-decent shape between now and then. It will be my fourth event. I am eagerly looking forward to being out there with TNT again, but I can’t say I am eager about those 4:15 alarm sets on a work day.
But between now and then, what should I write about? My blog is fairly one-dimensional, and I will probably keep it that way – concentrating on raising money to fight cancer, surviving cancer, and what others are doing. I'll also be out with the Purple People now and then over the next few months. I may do Light the Night for LLS. But I will probably also post at least a few things from time to time that are totally unrelated to any of these topics. There was actually a very historic and moving event in Richmond a few days ago that has nothing to do with marathons or cancer. I may throw that into a post next week.
I am thinking that now that I have my 2007 – 2008 “history” in there, I will post something every week or so. It is a new blog. There are few readers so far, but as long as at least a few people are reading and commenting, I will keep entries coming. If you read this blog and like it, you may want to subscribe to posts so that you know when there are new posts.
Come my next TNT endeavor, I will blog at least a few times a week as I start training and fund-raising for my fourth marathon. I’ll do that even if there are very few readers.
Carpe Diem! Art
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I wore the ears for the whole race. Now you have to be pretty sure about your masculinity to wear pink bunny ears in public for 3.1 miles! Where I grew up near Philadelphia, I guarantee that this would not have been a great thing to try.
I raised $625 for Komen, trying not to bug the same people who I pester each year for Team in Training. That was really great, but the biggest thing was to do this race to show support for my sister Ann and my step-mother Rhoda – both currently undergoing breast cancer treatments – and my sister-in-law Christine, a 19 year breast cancer survivor (and 16 year ovarian cancer survivor). And at the same time, show some support for the other dozen or so women I know who have dealt with breast cancer. I printed up pictures of Ann, Rhoda, and Christine and pinned them to my race jersey:
On my purple TNT race shirt were dozens of names I had written on it for the Arizona marathon. Each name represented a person who battled cancer. As always, it was my honor to wear these names.
I was going to be a 6 year lymphoma survivor in a couple of weeks from the race, so doing a race in May – my diagnosis month – to support those with cancer also felt very appropriate.
It was a festive event, lots of teams (my favorite team name was “Save the Ta-Ta’s”) and plenty of breast cancer survivors in pink shirts – very inspirational to see them out there.
I’ll be doing Team in Training again, and preparing for another marathon soon enough, so it felt good to just to run/walk a little 5K with no fund-raising pressure!
The race was great. As a two year cancer survivor, it was so inspirational to do this and to see the huge crowd doing the race, and especially all the pink-shirted women who had survived breast cancer.
Now with my sister dealing with breast cancer, I felt like I had to do something for this cause in 2008. My first choice was the Komen 3 Day, which is a three day, 60 mile walk. I even knew a lady on a local team, America the Boobiful (http://www.americatheboobiful.com/) that I could have joined and thus had people to train with. But the date of the 3 Day was the same weekend as a planned family reunion and celebration of my sister’s birthday, so that was out.
So what I decided on was the May 10, 2008 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Richmond. This was a 5K race, and should be a great event. I signed up and created a fund raising page. Among other things, here is what I wrote:
One in seven women will be stricken with breast cancer in her lifetime. Included in that number are three of my family members:
*** My sister, Ann, battling breast cancer every day for the past 14 + months - 4 different chemo treatments, many surgeries, and radiation.
*** My sister-in-law, Christine, survivor of breast and ovarian cancers for nearly 20 years.
*** My step-mother, Rhoda, just diagnosed in March.
These three ladies will be my special personal honorees for this race. But in addition, I am running for the following women that have had to face breast cancer:
*** In memory of Linda Cox
In Honor of:
*** Bev Kuhlman
*** Janice Wedwick
*** Mary Beth Gibson
*** Magdalena Gentile
*** Jen Stewart
*** Linda Silver
*** Jeanne' Thompson
*** Lisa Auerbach
*** Sue Patton
Everyone of these women is personally known to me except Sue, who is the mother of a friend. It is actually kind of scary that I know so many people who have had breast cancer, but kind of uplifting that so many of them have survived it.
I set my goal to $365, as follows:
3 – represents the three family members of mine who have had to battle breast cancer
6 – represents the number of years, as of May, that I am a lymphoma survivor
5 – represents the number of races I have done now to raise money to battle cancer: Komen in 2004 and 2008, and TNT in 2005, 2006, and 2008.
With my participation in the 10K over, I now looked forward to this next event.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
View of some of the 2008 Monument Avenue 10K field:
Well one more reason I had to do this race was to honor Tommy West. He was a local man who developed liver cancer in 2007. In fact, his cancer was discovered a couple of days before I learned about my sister’s breast cancer. Tommy died just before the race in 2008, leaving behind a wife and two little children. A bunch of his friends formed “Team Tommy” two years in a row to honor this fine man at the Monument Avenue 10K, and I signed up to be on his team. We wore bright orange shirts – hard to miss us – with “Team Tommy” on the front and “Boom, Boom, Boom” on the back. Apparently when Tommy was in a meeting at work and he needed to get things done, he would say “… and then we will just Boom, Boom, Boom”. I met him and his family the prior year at a team cookout, including his sister and mother. They all seemed like very fine people, and I can only imagine how hard a loss this was for them.
The race was a lot of fun, despite cool weather and rain that was fairly drenching at times. The weather reminded me of my first marathon, in Anchorage, Alaska in 2005. Despite not having trained a whole lot for this race, and only having done a very small amount of running, I ran about 4 miles of the 10K, and had my best ever time in a 10K of about one hour, nine minutes.
I hope that the sight of all of the orange shirts was of some comfort to Tommy’s family and good friends, of which he had many.
Here I am, coming down the stretch about a mile from the end, showing off my orange Team Tommy shirt and my white Team in Training hat, with my 3 highly coveted 26.2 pins in it:
If by some chance friends of Tommy West happen to view this post, I hope you will comment and add some things about Tommy.
Ann has had a very rough go of it. Her treatments have made my six months of chemotherapy look like a walk in the park. She had HER-2 positive breast cancer, which was very hard to treat until recently, when a new drug, Herceptin, was developed. Unfortunately, we would learn that her cancer was resistant to this treatment. She has now gone through 17 straight months of treatment, including 4 totally different chemotherapy regimens, a mastectomy, and a couple of months of radiation. She had a whole new cancer form while on her third chemotherapy, which was designed to prevent new cancers from metastasizing. She has been a real trooper throughout it all.
Ann’s name was the first name that I wrote on my Arizona Marathon shirt, and any time the training or the race got tough, all I had to do was think of what she had been enduring. She is still far from out of the woods, although the combination of radiation, mastectomy, and the fourth chemotherapy has us hopeful that she is done with all this very soon.
Having my sister go through cancer so soon after mine just affirmed the importance of raising money to fight cancer. I knew that I couldn’t go into full bore fund raising mode for breast cancer so soon after raising over $11,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, but I wanted to do something for this cause.
Here we are in April, 2007, a couple of months after her diagnosis.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
On the occasion of my 57th birthday, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on and summarize my third TNT event, now six months in the past.
If you’d asked me, in mid-April of 2002, to tell you a little about myself, I guarantee that three things would not have been mentioned as part of my life experience: cancer, marathons (or races of any kind), and fund raising. They were not even blips on the radar screen of my consciousness, yet six very fast years later, I have:
Survived lymphoma (with the help of many others)
Done three marathons for Team in Training (with the help of many others)
Raised nearly $32,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and about $1,200 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure (with the help of many others)
I started training for the Arizona Marathon about this time last year. It was a dominant event in my life for the second half of 2007, and was very special to me because I really wanted to do something to celebrate five years in remission at the end of 2007, and to give back once again for my great fortune to survive cancer. Five years is a HUGE milestone for cancer survivors! I set my fund-raising goal really high at $15,555.55 and my marathon time goal was 5:55:55. That time would make a good runner laugh hysterically but for me as a walker it is a very tough goal to reach, especially knowing that one will waste at least 5-10 minutes just waiting in porta-potty lines.
Looking back on my third TNT experience, there are three major areas to reflect on: the physical part, the fund-raising part, and the team part.
The Physical Part: There is no denying it – training for and doing a marathon is tough physically and mentally. It is not by any means the toughest thing in the world but it is difficult and demanding. I trained for over 5 months, and I would estimate that I put in probably 500 miles during that time, going through two pairs of shoes. If I hadn’t missed 8 weeks of training because of injuries and illnesses, it would have been even more miles. I lost dozens of hours of sleep each month, and was often up by 4:15 or 4:30 (and never getting to sleep past 5) on the workdays and getting up by 5:30 or earlier on Saturdays. When I started it was summer with the heat and humidity, and when I finished it was winter and cold. I trained in heat, pouring rain, cold, and even a little snow in Michigan - and in some really beautiful weather as well. After long (15+ miles) training walks, I would soak in a tub of ice water for 15 minutes. Even though I missed my marathon goal by a little less than a minute, I was thrilled because it was still a personal best by about 17 minutes and I broke 6 hours for the first time, despite missing so much time during training – mostly from injuries.
The Fund-Raising Part: Let’s face it, doing a marathon is a great feeling of accomplishment, but without the fund-raising component, it is just a marathon. LLS is trying to help cure blood cancers – leukemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and myeloma – and that takes money, lots of money. The fund-raising is our main focus. The marathon is a way to hopefully inspire people to donate to a good cause. I didn’t reach my goal of $15,555.55, and for a while when it became clear that wouldn’t happen, I did feel a little bad about it. Because of the generosity of 119 people and couples, I did raise $11,550. This was my second best TNT fund-raising total, and was also seventh best for all TNT participants in the Arizona P.F. Chang’s Marathon. So it was pretty good, despite it all. By comparison, the top fundraiser for the marathon brought in something like $54,000! Wow! Any success and credit I had raising money has to go to my generous donors, 11 of whom made more than one donation. By the time I left for Arizona, about $4,000 short of my goal, I still felt pretty good about it and knew that I had done about the best I could. See my post on “Bide Your Time, for Success is Near”.
The Team Part: Several other posts talk about my fabulous teammates, but I can’t do a summary of my third event without mentioning them once more. It is the people that make TNT such a great experience. When I look back on the season, I will always remember the good times with my teammates more than I will the tough times training and trying to raise money. In particular, a number of individuals made the season great: our LLS staff persons Amber and Danielle, my coaches Sarah and Michal, my mentor Theresa, our mentor captain Heather, my walking teammates Robbi, Suzanne, and Jen, and several running teammates that I interacted with: Chuck, Rachel, Paul, JoanE, Alan, Matt, and Joel. I will always remember the great purple and green balloons that Michal got me for a little post-training celebration on my five year remission weekend in December. Also, I will always remember Chuck and Suzanne waiting to greet me when I came in from doing the marathon. They could have been back at the hotel relaxing, showering, having a cold beer, but they waited for every VA teammate to come in. That was, and always will be, appreciated. The bottom line is that you go through something like TNT, you make great additional friends in your life.
I find myself missing Team in Training, and looking forward with eager anticipation to the next time. I’ve gotten a little lazy – no 4:15AM alarms, no 8 -10 milers before work, no 15 – 20 milers on Saturdays. The fundraising is too difficult, unless you are a famous person with rich friends or you are a well-connected politician, for me to do this more than every year or so. That self-imposed one year limit is fast approaching, and so I will again plan to be out there starting maybe in October for my fourth event, changing lives one mile at a time.
My next few posts will talk about the Komen Race for the Cure this past May.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Interior of the remains of the church:
View of the church's dome on the right and bell tower on the left:
This is an adobe hut that some of the Indian converts and laborers would have lived in:
A good view of the bell tower:
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I drove back through Saguaro National Park, taking another short hike in the very chilly early morning air. I snapped one final photo of some “forested” hills in the park as I drove out of it:
The museum is everything I had heard about it. Even though I wanted to save some time to do other things, there was just too much to see and explore there. I spent 4 hours touring the various exhibits, and could have spent an entire day there. There were animal exhibits, like these javelina roaming in a half acre, very natural looking habitat:
and this cougar, kept in a separate pen, fortunately for the javelinas:
and this rare Mexican wolf, also kept separately for the benefit of any potential prey:
There were many cactus displays such as these organ pipe cacti:
these prickly pear:
and this barrel cactus:
There were wide open desert spaces and vistas:
There were also many exhibits of desert habitats, educational displays, a simulated cave to explore, American Indian exhibits, and a very interesting exhibit on agave – tequila, anyone? If you are ever near Tucson, definitely pay this great facility a visit. It is well worth it.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
The first of these was Saguaro National Park:
While I’d been in Arizona before, it was in Northern Arizona at the Grand Canyon. Seeing the saguaros was amazing and so different. After a late breakfast Monday, January 14 with some of my teammates, I went out to the Phoenix airport and picked up a rental car. I got on the road, heading for Tucson, which was a couple of hours south. My goal was to see some desert landscapes and saguaro cacti before the end of the day.
Saguaros are just incredible. If you were told to think of a cactus, this is the one that would come to mind. From an almost unimaginably small seed grows a huge cactus. After five years, the cactus is only about the size of a thimble. It takes up to 75 years to grow a single arm, and they can live up to 200 years or more. They were and still are very important in the culture of the Tohono O’odham Indian tribe. Because of poaching for suburban developments, this giant symbol of the Sonora Desert is at some risk for reduced numbers.
Once I got to the park, I went to the visitor center and quickly learned that I should have spent at least a couple of more days in southern Arizona – there was so much to see and the place is huge. But I only had a few hours left on Monday, and all of Tuesday, so I got busy. Saguaro National Park has two separate units, each many miles apart. I got to see the western unit. My legs were too sore for a lot of hiking, even though I was tempted. 26.2 miles takes a lot out of you, I’ll say that. So I did a lot of driving through various parts of the park, and a few short hikes. None of these was longer than about ¾ mile. The rest of the post will be some selected photos from my afternoon at the park, as well as an hour or so on Tuesday on the way to my destination that day, the Sonora Desert Museum.
I used the arm of this huge saguro on a nature trail to frame the distant mountains:
Many of the saguaros had incredible shapes, with many arms:
Large saguaros actually have a woody skeleton, as you can see in this photo. Note too that there is a variety of other plants besides saguaros here. The western unit of the park has, believe it or not, 1,162 species of plants. Who says that deserts are barren?
This big guy either is descended from Gumby or is some kind of a traffic cop:
One area of the park, with only a short hike, had these incredible petroglyphs carved in rocks by ancient Indian tribes. Here are representations of various desert animals.
Here are some more animals, a sun, and some other depictions. It was amazing to see this, and to think of people so long ago doing these drawings in the rocks.
Although quite different from Eastern forests, there are indeed forests in the park. Note this cacti forest that I found quite striking:
As the sun went down, and the air cooled, I knew that it was time to head into civilization and find a room for the night. My afternoon in Saguaro National Park had passed all too quickly.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Hi Summer and Fall Teams,
First, to those of you who just finished the Rock N Roll Marathon / Half Marathon in San Diego and the Breezy Point Triathlon in Norfolk, a huge congratulations. I hope each of you had a great time and a great event, whether it was your first time or your 20th. I also hope that each of you is proud of your accomplishments, both athletically and fund-raising wise, to support the mission of LLS: to cure blood cancers.
And to the fall team, it was great to meet you all a couple of weeks ago at training. What a great group!
Yesterday marked my 6th anniversary of starting chemo. That long ago now, all the time that has passed, it is a bit blurry. But even so, I can still remember waking up that morning with a sense of dread in the pit of my stomach. I had no idea what to expect, other than that chemotherapy would likely not be very pleasant – which did turn out to be true. I know I worried that I would throw up right there in the chemo room, maybe on a nurse or – God forbid – another patient. Fortunately none of that happened, but I sure worried about it, and definitely felt some fear going in there the first few times. The first week, I went five straight days, and by around Thursday of that week I was feeling ill enough that I had to force myself to go back in there. But I never did throw up on a nurse or another patient, which is a good thing for all involved.
Besides that very real sense of dread, and some fear, I also had a little bit of excitement. My potential killer finally had a name, Hodgkin Lymphoma, and going into the oncology room and having 4 poisons injected into my brand new portocath would be the very first step in kicking “Hodgy’s” butt. Because of all the research, clinical trials, and patients who came before me, they knew exactly what drugs would be effective and how much without killing me. (Although it turned out there was this one drug that any amount would likely prove to be lethal if I stayed on it, but that is another story). So despite the dread, I felt really lucky to have something that could be defeated. I still feel very lucky, and I never look back on this time as a misfortune, because I was fortunate enough to live.
I know that there are so many others not as fortunate, which is why I got involved in TNT and am staying involved. It is a way to make a difference. It is a way that maybe in five years – less time than I have been off chemotherapy now – there will be even more cures. And more patients will hear: “This won’t be a lot of fun but you are going to beat this. A few years ago this would kill you, but now you will survive.” For every future patient who hears that, who is at first scared that they will die but learn that their disease is treatable or even curable, you will have a part in that, because you chose to get involved and make a positive difference. So here is a big THANK YOU and congratulations for doing so.
I hope to see you all out at training again and/or at future events.
This was me, June 2, 2002, the day before starting ABVD chemotherapy. I'd gotten a buzz cut a couple of days before, knowing my hair would be falling out anyway over the next month or so. I had gone for one last hike, realizing it would be a while before another one. It was a gorgeous day, and the mountain laurel was in bloom in the Shenandoah Mountains. Many times during chemo, I would look at this picture and eagerly anticipate being healthy and strong enough again to go for a hike.