Monday, January 4, 2010

Cancer is So Nasty and Sneaky

My first season with Team in Training was 2005, and at that point each race team was assigned a specific patient honoree. My Anchorage, Alaska marathon team was assigned a great guy named Ed S. Ed had barely survived leukemia at age 19. At one point, he was so close to death that they had a moment of silence for him at a football game at his old high school. This fine young man survived thanks to a bone marrow transplant from his sister.

Over the years, Ed has given a lot back. He has done more events for Team in Training than I can remember. He has done marathons, half marathons, century cycle races, and triathlons of several different lengths. He was TNT Richmond’s very first Triple Crown winner. He has raised an amazing amount of money over these years. This past fall, he and three family members walked the half marathon at Virginia Beach together to commemorate Ed’s 20 year survival point. And later in the fall, Ed reached his big 4-0. He has been a busy guy, made a difference, and inspired a lot of people along the way. Plus he was a model with me in the American Cancer Society’s Cure by Design Fashion Show last summer.

Ed has also dealt with cancer multiple times since then. He had a malignant tumor on the back of his neck some time ago, and the year I did my first marathon and he served as our team patient honoree, he had malignant melanoma on his back. He had painful surgery, and then healed up and went out and did another triathlon. Tough guy!

So yesterday, I got a kick in the gut when I learned that Ed has melanoma again. What they thought was a plantar wart back last summer has turned out to be malignant melanoma, and he also had a mole removed near his biceps that had this disease. While the mole appears to be pretty well contained with clear margins, they will still do follow-up surgery to cut deeper. The cancer on Ed’s foot is a bigger deal. There could be lymphatic involvement which would be really serious. When they do more surgery in a month, they will test for this by searching for and the removing and doing biopsies on the sentinel node. The surgery will remove a pretty big chunk of Ed’s foot, with plenty of pain involved. They will have to taper the surgery so he gets to keep all his toes. There could be chemo involved depending on what they find, or maybe not. In any event, Ed has to give up on doing the St. Anthony’s triathlon this April, but plans on starting up swimming and cycling again in the summer or fall, and running towards the end of the year. You can’t keep a good man down.

I hate news like this. It is just not fair that anyone has to go through this, much less having to deal with cancer for the fourth time. It just is not right. Ed is a strong and brave guy. He will face this head on with courage and a positive attitude. He will get good medical care, and do what it takes to survive and to recover. But cancer does not care about any of this. It is a sneaky, nasty, relentless, dastardly foe. It is always searching for a way to kill you. It never sleeps or tires. Ed and his doctor are going to fight like hell to kill it first. That is the way of this disease. Kill or be killed! Go kill it, Ed! You have a lot of people cheering for you, who have faith that you will be the one walking away from this fight. And that you will leave cancer lying dead in the gutter for the fourth, and we hope, the last time.


LWH said...

From your lips (fingertips?) to God's ear, Art. Ed is a fighter, and I know he will kill this thing, but I just so hate that he has to do so AGAIN.

Cheryl said...

One can only feel much compassion for Ed. He sounds a wonderful and positive person. I am humbled when I read such stories.

Shall think of Ed and all those that walk the same path.......