Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Lucky Guy

This was my fundraising note tonight to potential donors to my 2010 Campaign.


Almost exactly eight years ago to the day, I was sitting on a table in a doctor’s office, anxiously waiting to learn my biopsy results. I knew by that point that I had some kind of lymphoma, but which type? The news I got in the next few minutes would determine in part whether I would be likely to survive this, or be faced with the possible prospect of a pretty awful death in the next year or so. The surgeon strode in, looked at me, and tossed a lab report on the table next to me. “Hodgkin’s, you lucky guy!” he said. I felt like I had won the lottery, because Hodgkin lymphoma is 80% survivable at stage 3. Some of the other lymphomas have much lower survivorship rates, or were even considered incurable. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to go through chemotherapy, and was rather dreading that part of this big adventure, but I also knew now that I would probably live.

I’ll continue in that vein in a moment, but first want to give a campaign and training update. With just a few weeks of fundraising to go, I am only about $1,400 away from my fundraising goal and from having purple hair on June 26 in the Seattle Half Marathon. Want to help get me there? You can do so by getting me a check payable to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, or by donating on my Team in Training secure webpage:

Thanks again, very much, to the 99 people who have donated so far to my “Survivor in Seattle” Cancer Kickin’ Campaign!

The half-marathon is exactly one month away, and I am slowly getting ready, having run as far as 12 miles a couple of weeks ago. It was a very hot morning, and by the last few miles, I was dragging. Towards the end, I walked as much as I ran, but I still did it! This week, I have a nasty cold and am taking it easy, and it feels very strange not to be working out or running. Hopefully, I can pick up some running this weekend and be fully back into it by next week.

In my last update, I talked about waiting for the cavalry, how so many people with cancer are barely hanging in there, waiting for the next breakthrough in cancer treatments – a development that will perhaps save their life in the nick of time. My surgeon’s news to me eight years ago meant that I didn’t have to wait for the cavalry. While no one’s survival from any disease is assured, researchers and clinical trials in the 1970’s and 80’s led directly to effective treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma. No cavalry rescue was needed. All I had to do was to endure the highly effective chemotherapy regime for six months and I had a great chance to survive. There were some bumps along the way, but here I am, eight years later and getting ready for my fifth marathon or half-marathon.

We have made great progress in the treatments of blood cancers. Five year survivorship for leukemia has climbed from 14% in 1960 to 54% by 2005. For non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the survivorship rate has gone from 31% in 1960 to 69% in 2005. Myeloma survivorship, while still low, has gone from 12% in 1960 to 37% in 2005. But you can still see that there is a long way to go with these diseases to reach the survivorship rate of 86% for Hodgkin lymphoma – and to improve on this. One more fact: every 10 minutes in the USA, someone dies of a blood cancer.

It was a great feeling to hear those words: “Hodgkin’s, you lucky guy!” I had something that could be treated, something that I was likely to survive. That knowledge gave me tremendous hope, and also a desire to make a difference for future cancer patients, which I have attempted to do over these past years with my campaigns for Team in Training. Anything I have accomplished with TNT is really your accomplishment, for without your generosity, all I would be doing is participating in a foot race. It is your donations that will lead to cures and to the support of cancer patients. If you have not donated yet and want to add to the donations of the 99 folks so far, there are still a few weeks left to do so.

From my “Survivor in Seattle” Campaign, with just one month to go, a Big Thank You!

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