Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Nashville Girl with Leukemia

This is my second fundraising note for my 2010 campaign.

Hello Again,

I wanted to reach out with an update and a message about a little girl I saw last April in Nashville that really touched my heart.

First, I want to thank everyone who has donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through my Cancer Kickin’ Campaign. So far, 19 people have donated $1,000 to this cause. I very much appreciate your generosity. If you would like to make a donation, catch up with what is going on with my campaign, or see my list of race honorees, you can do so at my Team in Training web page:


As far as other updates, the heavy snowfall we got over the weekend cancelled out our first training. So for now, I am getting in a little exercise when I can, but it might be a day or two before I can run outside again. Although based on the weather forecast we may not get to train this coming Saturday, either. And I am still waiting for Dallas fans to "cowboy up" with a donation of $100 or more to make me wear the cap with the star! Oh, the humiliation! But so far, no takers - well, a Seahawk fan and one other, but no Dallas fans. Hmmm, maybe the Cowboys aren't really "America's Team" after all!

I had a brief magical moment when I was in Nashville for the half-marathon last April, the kind of instant that makes you want to smile and cry all at the same time. I had decided to take a walk from the hotel to the Cumberland River the afternoon our team arrived. I was wearing a Team in Training shirt. As I walked by the convention center, two young women and two young girls passed me walking the other way. The girls were about six to eight, I would guess. I barely noticed any of them, given that I didn’t see them until I rounded the corner. But then I heard one of the women speak to one of the girls: “Look! There’s one of the Leukemia Society people!”. I turned my head and looked back at them. She was talking to one of the little girls, who happened to be bald with just a hint of hair growing back. And in an instant it hit me – “My God! This young girl has leukemia!” I smiled at her and waved, and she gave me a shy, sweet smile back. Then we went on our separate ways.

For a second I thought that I would go back and chat with them, tell them that I am a survivor and that she will be, too. But I felt like I might be intruding, and decided to keep on going. As I walked along, choking back tears for a short time, I thought of her. I thought about her as I sat by the river a little later. I thought of her during the Inspiration Dinner the next night, and again during the race the day after that. And of course since then, which is why I am writing this now. I know I will wonder about her for a long time. Will she ultimately survive? Will she graduate from high school and college? Fall in love? Get married? Have her own children and maybe grandchildren someday? Maybe do a marathon herself with Team in Training for LLS? Discover a cure for cancer someday or invent something that helps the world?

And I thought “This is why I do this.” Why I wake up at 4AM and 4:30AM to run and walk miles alone in the dark before work. Why I get up so early to run on Saturday mornings when sleeping in and then relaxing with a cup of tea might sometimes be easier. Why I train so long at times that I have to soak in a tub of ice water from the waist down. Why I am willing to run and walk 13.1 miles two days later in the heat, and 26.2 miles three times before. Why blisters and blackened and lost toenails are tolerable. Why I am willing to ask people for donations for this cause, even though it is always difficult to ask people to donate money. And it is why my teammates, thousands of them at any given time around North America, 650 of us in Nashville that weekend alone, do all of these things, too.

It is so this young girl, and others like her, can have a future. Nearly eight years ago, I received the gift of life when I survived a form of blood cancer that was treatable only because of much medical research and clinical trials. So to do what I can to help others have this same chance now and in the future feels like the right thing to do.

Whoever you are, young Nashville girl with leukemia, I hope you survive. I hope you have a long, productive, healthy, and happy life! And I am glad that our lives crossed for that brief, bittersweet instant last April.

Thanks for your support of this cause – to finish the job of finding effective cures for blood cancers.

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