Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Our Team's February Miracle Girls

This was my third note to donors. You can go here to see some photos of our February Miracle Girls!

A couple of weeks have gone by since my last update, and we finally got enough of a break from the snow to start training. I want to thank everyone who has donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through my Cancer Kickin’ Campaign. So far, 36 people have donated $1,805 to my cause, and I very much appreciate your generosity. If you would like to make a donation, see my list of honorees, or catch up with what is going on with my campaign, you can do so at my Team in Training web page:


Well, the snow finally held off long enough for our summer team to meet in very un-summer like weather this past Saturday. It was cold and icy, but it felt great to get in our first training at long last, and to run and walk five miles. But the main subject of this note is Team Richmond’s February Miracle Girls, Emma and Nicki.

Everyone on our team is charmed by Emma, whom I first met in 2005 when she was just five years old. If you are not inspired and touched by Emma’s story, please check your pulse, and quickly! Imagine that your ten week old baby seems very ill and you take her to the emergency room. After some tests, a doctor appears, crying. He tells you that your precious little girl has infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This was the experience of my friend Holly and her family with their newborn daughter / sister. They all said goodbye to Emma that weekend over ten years ago, sure that she would not survive the weekend. But thanks to cancer research, there was indeed hope, and after more tests, it was determined that Emma had a 50% chance of surviving the A.L.L. – up just recently from just 25% - if she could survive the chemo. All of Emma’s first major holidays and her first birthday were spent in the hospital. I still tear up when I see the picture of this little baby, so obviously in misery with her body all swollen, hooked up to all kinds of needles and tubes. And I always get a happy tear when I see the photo of Emma celebrating after finishing her first triathlon a few years back, for survive she did! Valentine's Day this year marked nine years in remission for this wonderful ten year old who loves all kinds of animals, but especially lions, tigers, cats, dogs, jaguars, cheetahs, rabbits, fish, turtles, leopards and elephants. To survive, she and her family went through hell, and the long term effects of this kind of treatment on children can be very severe. That is another reason we do Team in Training – not just for cures, but for cures that don’t nearly kill the patient.

Visualize being handed a bag. Inside the bag are 100 marbles – 95 white and 5 red. You are told to reach in and to remove a marble from the bag. If it is red, you will live; if it is white, you will die. That is essentially the predicament of my friend Nicki, a young woman in college, 13 years ago in late February. All her treatments had failed, and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma was going to kill her, unless a bone marrow transplant could somehow save her life. At that point, she had a five percent chance of survival as she received total body radiation and chemo to kill all her marrow. The replacement marrow was coming from South Carolina. Had the donor changed her mind or gotten sick, or had something happened to the marrow in transit, Nicki had a 0 percent chance of survival because her own marrow had been destroyed prior to the transplant. So there was no going back – the bridge had been burned. Amazingly, Nicki did not only survive, but has also run a number of marathons and half marathons for Team in Training since then. And on thirteenth anniversary (plus a day) of her life saving bone marrow transplant, she will be running the Mardi Gras half-marathon in New Orleans next weekend to celebrate the people who helped to save her life. These include her donor, doctors, nurses, medical researchers – and the people who donated to money to cure cancer.

Our team gets constant inspiration from our February Miracle Girls! Want to help save the life of a future Nicki or Emma? You can do so with a donation to LLS if you have not already done so, for each donation of any amount adds up. When combined with all of the other donations, your donation accomplishes truly great things.

Thanks for your support of this cause – to complete the development of effective cures for blood cancers, and ultimately, all cancers!

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