Monday, April 26, 2010

Those Scary Words Eight Years Ago

This was my campaign update tonight to potential donors to LLS, sent on the 8th anniversary of a momentus day in my life....

Greetings from my 2010 Cancer Kickin’ Campaign, “Survivor in Seattle!” Eight years ago today, I heard those seven scary words that no one ever wants to hear. Not “Hey Dad (or Mom), can I borrow the car?” Nothing quite that terrifying! No, the words I heard were “It looks like you may have cancer.” I’ll discuss that more in a second, but first I want to give an update on how my campaign is going.

With exactly two months to go until the race, it is actually going pretty well! Our training this past Saturday was eight miles, so I am getting closer to my goal of 13.1 on race day. Much more importantly, thanks to the generosity of so many folks, I have raised about $6,100 so far. A little over two thousand dollars more, and I will be running with purple hair on June 26 in Seattle! Want to help make that happen? Go to my TNT web page and make a donation, or contact me to get me a check payable to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society:

You can also go to my web page to get campaign updates by way of my blog, to see my honoree list, or view my Purpleometer. As with all of my past endeavors for LLS, if you make a donation to LLS I will gladly write the name of a loved one affected by any type of cancer on my blog and on my race singlet in Seattle.

Now, back to those words I heard on April 26, 2002. What the doctor actually said as he viewed the X-ray was: “You have a large mass in your chest, something that should not be there.” I stared at the X-ray, unable to speak for about 10 seconds, my mind reeling. I focused on the words that the radiologist had written on the edges of the X-ray image: “Mediastinal Mass” and “Lymphoma?” Those words, combined with what the doctor said, had the same effect as if he had actually said "you have cancer," because I immediately was certain that was what I would be dealing with.

I wondered how I would tell my wife this news. I wondered what my future would hold, and what chemotherapy would be like. I wondered if I would see the end of 2002, or if 2002 would see the end of me. I decided in those initial few seconds that if this was going to be my fate, I would fight like hell to delay it as long as possible.

Obviously, I survived that year, and seven more years since, and it turned out well for me. But every four minutes of every day on average, another American is told they have one of the blood cancers: leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, or myeloma. I am sure that they have some of the same thoughts going through their brains as I did that day. And every 10 minutes in this country, a person will die from blood cancer, so clearly it does not turn out well at all for over 50,000 Americans each year.

When I was ill from the effects of chemo, I swore that when I recovered, I would somehow use my example of surviving cancer to do something good for others so affected, and to ultimately better their prospects. I don’t have the knowledge or skills to actually develop a cure. But maybe I can use my strong legs and spirit to inspire people like you to make a contribution to this cause, which will ultimately lead to more and more cures, and higher survival rates. I need your help, because running a half marathon in itself won’t cure a thing. It is donations to this cause that will lead to a cure, not anyone running 13.1 miles.

To all of you who donated already, many thanks. But if you are getting this and have not yet donated, then consider that your donation, when combined with those of so many others, is going to save lives. Maybe even the life of a loved one, because when you or a loved one has cancer, the phrase “War on Cancer” is no longer an abstract slogan. It is a difficult and exhausting fight for survival, and all too often a deadly one.

Like a bolt from the blue, that fight began for me eight years ago today. I am very lucky to be here, not only alive but healthy and strong as well. On June 26, I will be a Survivor in Seattle, and with your help, my hair will be purple, and we will be that much closer to a cure.

Thank you from my 2010 Cancer Kickin’ Campaign!

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