Monday, April 20, 2009

Making a Difference in the World!

My Fellow Americans, and Citizens of the World,

I address you tonight from the Elliptical Office with my last campaign message before heading to Nashville to complete the Country Music Half-Marathon this coming Saturday. I am amazed how fast the last 5-6 months of this campaign have gone by.

First, I will take this opportunity to thank all those who have donated to my 2009 campaign – over 120 of you! If you did not “cast your ballot” yet but would like to, you can donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by going to my web page:

My web page also has campaign updates and other information about what I am doing, including links to my blog with additional details about my Team in Training Cancer Kickin’ Campaign. You can also get me a check payable to LLS.

On the morning of April 25, I will get on a bus at 4:30AM along with my purple-clad teammates, and be driven to the race staging area in Nashville. At 7AM, I will take the first step in running, with some walking, 13.1 miles. That date, as it turns out, has special significance to me. It was on that same date in 2002 that I noticed an odd pain in my lower ribcage with every breath, which I ignored for 24 hours.

When I saw the doctor the next day, he suspected pleurisy and ordered a chest X-ray. I will never forget him looking rather grimly at the X-ray and saying “You have a large mass in the center of your chest, something that definitely should not be there.” For about 10 seconds I could not say a word, but stared at the X-ray and this word that the radiologist had written on the image’s margin: “lymphoma?”, with a question mark after it. In 10 seconds, 6 months worth of thoughts raced through my head, the dominant one being whether I would still be alive at the end of the year or not.

When I recovered from lymphoma, I had two choices. I could get back on with my life. Or I could get back on with my life, and do more to make a difference in the world. I am fortunate to be strong and healthy enough to have completed three marathons and raised thousands of dollars to combat cancer as part of these efforts. On the 25th, I will add a half-marathon to the mix. But at the same time, I have these sobering thoughts: in the seven years between receiving that scary news and the day of my race, 368,000 Americans have died of a blood cancer. I am truly blessed and incredibly fortunate not to be counted among that total, because it didn’t have to turn out the way it did. And consider that, on the day of my race - just one day – about 288 people in the United States will get the shocking news that they have a blood cancer – leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, or multiple myeloma. They, too, will try to hear what the doctor is telling them while thoughts race through their heads. They, too, will wonder if they will still be alive by Christmas. That is just in one country: the United States. And it is from one genera of cancer only: blood cancers. So there is plenty of work to be done.

That is why those of us who are lucky enough to be healthy need to try to make a difference. That is what I have attempted to do with this campaign – to play a small part in an ultimate human victory over cancers of all types. If you would like to help with a donation, then you become part of that effort as well. And unlike me, on the 25th, you can do this without getting up at 3:30AM and running 13.1 miles (or 26.2, like some of my teammates are doing). So sleep in, have a second cup of coffee, and smile knowing that you helped to make the world a better place. I’ll do the early wake up and running for you!

Thanks so much to those of you who made a donation, and thanks to those of you still considering doing so!


(I’m Art Ritter, and I whole-heartedly approved this message, because far too many people are affected by cancers of all types)

Art Ritter in 2009 – He Will go the Distance for You!


TNTcoach Ken said...

Well said, young man! I'll be thinking of you, since I can't be there.

Racn4acure said...

Thanks Coach Ken - I much appreciate that! Art