Friday, December 31, 2010

Final Report on my 2010 Goals

At the end of 2009, I identified ten goals for myself for the upcoming year. Here is where things stand 12 months later!

1. Do my fifth Team in Training event. On June 26th, I ran and walked the Seattle Half Marathon. Mission Accomplished!

2. Get a bike. Initially, this meant saving money for a bike. Nope, had other priorities for my money. Probably I will get a new computer before I get a bike even in 2011.

3. Eclipse $50,000 (cumulative) in fund raising for Team in Training. I needed to raise $8,500 this season to hit this target. And I surpassed this, people so generously donating over $11,000 to my cause. Mission Accomplished!

4. Lose my extra 10 pounds. I ending up losing about four pounds net, counting what I gained back in the last month with too many Christmas cookies. So I will treat this as a partial success.

5. Practice swimming. Ouch! I made no progress on this goal.

6. Write something, get it published, and get paid for it. Well, I did two out of three, but the getting paid was a big part of that. I got this poem published in a newsletter at Virginia Beach. No money, other than the currency of satisfaction, changed hands.

7. Run the Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K this March. Mission accomplished!

8. Hike more, and try to backpack again. I have gotten in a lot of great hikes this year, and even did a two day backpacking trip in up Priest Mountain earlier this month.

9. Do something about my work situation. As stated in August, given the economy, I am just going to hold pat. Things have improved, including my attitude. So maybe that is what I am doing about my work situation - improving my outlook. But I did buy one last lottery ticket for tonight!

10. Continue this blog, as well as my blog “Oh, to be Hiking,” through 2010. I've kept both blogs going pretty well this year, although I struggled with this one a bit after running in Seattle.

Summary – mixed. I have accomplished five goals, partially accomplished two of my goals, made no progress on two more, and kind of abandoned one goal. Not wonderful, although it would have been tough to do them all. And as people have commented, if this were baseball, I'd have a great batting average.

Next up: figure out what goals I want to set for 2011. Hint - you know that one of them will involve Team in Training. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A New Year Coming

Here we are, just days from a brand new year, my ninth year since surviving lymphoma. I feel so blessed to be here for 2011, especially as a I know so many people currently suffering from cancer.

My work outs lately have been in shambles. Between things to do for the holidays and cold and snowy weather, the best I have had the discipline to do is a walk now and then, maybe a short run, and a very rare upper body workout. And it is showing, as I've gained at least three or four pounds since Thanksgiving. I have also noticed that the same sneaky son of a gun who was coming in during the middle of the night and replacing my trousers is doing it again. It is really annoying.

I did take a three mile walk on my lunch break yesterday, and two the day before that, plus that same day, I ran a mile on the treadmill and did 16 minutes on the eliptical machine. But that needs to become a habit again. One thing I am learning about myself is that I need that goal out there to force me to run. I need to have that scheduled race. But first, I have to make a final decision on surgery or not for this neuroma. I think I need to do it, but just seem frozen with indecision. My problem is that when I am not running and walking a lot, it is barely noticable, and I get complacent about it, and think it is fine. I think I just need to suck it up and get the surgery. I will have 10 days of sick leave in one more week, and that is the time to do it.

Anyone have any new year resolutions? I am thinking of my goals for next year, and will post those after the new year begins. I think I had too many goals last year and just could not reach them all. So I will try for a more modest list for 2011 (maybe). One thing you can count on: I plan for racing for a cure again in 2011.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

Joseph Mohr and Franz Xavier Gruber

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cancer Sucks! It Really, Really Sucks!

A friend asked us to come over last Saturday night, because she wanted to share some news. We knew that she had had a medical appointment to examine a large mass in her tibia the day before, but all her husband said when we asked about it was “Not good. We’ll tell you tonight.” Well, the news was “Probable multiple myeloma,” a tough-as-a-nut blood cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow.

She had surgery Wednesday to implant a titanium rod in her tibia, because the bone was in danger of breaking without it. And that diagnosis was confirmed: multiple myeloma. It is looking pretty advanced, maybe even stage 3, which is the most advanced stage. She has had a ton of weird illnesses over the past year, and now it seems apparent that many or even most of these were caused by the myeloma as it remorselessly grew in her body.

Cancer just sucks! One more person, one more family, turned inside out and upside down, worrying about their future in fear. Every four minutes, an American is diagnosed with a blood cancer, and Wednesday morning, it was our friend Judy’s turn. She is facing the same difficult future that all newly diagnosed cancer patients do. Plus she is in a lot of pain and very sick from the side effects of the surgery. Her husband and daughter have been spending nights at the hospital. I’ve been trying to research things for them, and yesterday, I shoveled their driveway from our fresh 2-3 inch snowfall. It wasn’t much, but it made me feel better that I could do one tiny thing that might help them when she comes home from the hospital and won’t have to face getting through an icy driveway.

One more name for my next Team in Training race shirt. One more person dealing with the almost unbelievable misery of radiation and chemo, worrying how long they will live, trying to stay positive. One more spouse worrying if he and his wife will grow old together, how to get her the best treatment, feeling scared and overwhelmed. I added it up yesterday: I now know ten people personally who are currently dealing with cancer, and in more cases than not, they are very difficult cancers that are proving to be relentless, and very evil. And that number does not include the many survivors I know, nor those that have not made it.

Last February, when I wrote “The Limits of Cancer,” I was trying express how the human spirit is stronger than the evil powers of cancer. I still feel that way, but I also know that our friend is in for a very difficult time of it. Just how difficult will be made clear in the coming months. I feel really bad about her situation, and have that initial feeling of helplessness that everyone gets when a close friend or family member gets this diagnosis. Cancer sucks! It really, really sucks!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Talking to the Teams

I wanted to meet the Spring Team and give a mission moment about my eight year remission point. I am not doing TNT at this moment in time, but know a number of the people on the teams.

So I got up early yesterday and went out to meet the run team at 8AM and the cycle team at 9AM. I got to the park early and had time to run and walk three miles or so in the cold. I had hoped my friend Lelia would want to come out and run, but she ended up going in Florida, so I ran by myself, doing laps around the VITA track in the park. It felt like it could snow, but after my workout, my upper layers were soaked through, and my fleece was covered with frost on the back. I sweat buckets when I work out, even in the cold. Standing around afterwards for a half hour left me feeling chilled.

The spring team has a lot of people, which is fantastic to see. The last few years, it has been small, and it is always more fun with a bigger team. They were an enthusiastic group. I talked to them about my great fortune in reaching eight years in remission, but how even though Hodgkin lymphoma is considered a “good cancer” to have, 15% of people so afflicted will die from it. Why is that? Why is it that the drugs that cured me so successfully will not work for someone else? There has to be something at the cellular level or sub-cellular level that is different enough, and that is why more money is needed for research.

It was great to see so many old friends on this team, and I felt wistful that I am not on it, training for Vancouver. But about 8:30, I left to drive 25 minutes to meet the cycle team, coached by my friend Susan Ann. It was across town, and I got to meet six people who came out that day. Their training does not officially start until January, so this is preliminary workouts. They were riding 25 miles on the cold day. What a nice bunch of men and women!

I really appreciated the chance to talk to these fine groups of TNTers, out there in the cold and trying to make a difference with blood cancers. That difference is still badly needed, despite recent successes in the war against cancer.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Eight Years in Remission

Well, here it is, the eighth anniversary of my remission from Hodgkin Lymphoma. Eight years ago, I was totally worn out, weak, and very hopeful that I was cured and done with all this chemotherapy. A CT scan confirmed that a couple of weeks later. Now, I am still on Planet Earth, surviving and living strong, a multiple marathoner and half marathoner for Team in Training and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

On this date, eight years in remission, I thought I would look back on 2010 and write about eight great memories I have for this year racing for a cure. These are not in any particular ranking order. If you want to read about eight great moments in the great outdoors, click here.

1. The half-marathon in Seattle. This was my fifth TNT event, my second half marathon, and my first time in Seattle, Washington. It was amazing. I hit my time goal of under two hours 30 minutes despite a continually painful left foot and two injuries in the preceding month. Every time I do a race for TNT, I am sure it will feel routine at the finish line after so many. But every time, the emotions of running as a survivor are overwhelming at the finish line. It is like no feeling on earth.

2. Fundraising $50,000 for LLS. My fundraising this year for the Seattle race crossed the $50,000 mark over my five events for Team in Training. I also surpassed my fundraising goal for the event, and ran with purple hair to celebrate. I wrote a new fundraising note every couple of weeks. I think my favorites were this one about waiting for the cavalry, and this one about how chemotherapy is tougher than a marathon.

3. Running on the anniversary of my grandfather’s death. My mom’s dad was the only grandparent I ever knew. He died from cancer on June 26, 1959 – just a couple of weeks before my eighth birthday, yet in those few years he was a huge factor in my life, and wonderful memories. The Seattle race was on the anniversary of his death. I hope he would have been proud of me.

4. Writing “The Limits of Cancer.” I really like this poem. To me, it summarizes the triumph of the human spirit over the evils of cancer. I wrote it in honor of my sister and several good friends who are all going through cancer’s horrors right now.

5. Running the Livestrong 5K at the beach. This was my first 5K and my first race where I ran every single step with no walking. It was at Sandbridge in Virginia Beach, and was for the Livestrong organization, and was just a blast. I did not fundraise, but I carried the names of many people, living and dead, who faced down cancer.

6. Training with Lelia. Team in Training is always a great experience, but it is a lot more fun when you have a training buddy. We often have small teams and mix in my run – walk alternating style, and I sometimes have to train alone much of the time. Not this year – my friend Lelia was out with the team, also as a Galloway runner, and we trained together nearly every Saturday. It made the time fly by!

7. Mentoring / mentor captain. Once again, I was a mentor for the summer team, and mentor captain for the spring team. I enjoyed working with the other participants and mentors to help them reach their goals. Because participants tend to be young and female, and I tend to be old and male, I am not always sure I am communicating on the same level. But things generally tend to work out, and I hope that I can enhance the experience of others in this manner.

8. Light the Night. This is a beautiful event with all the lighted white, red, and gold balloons, and a special memory of surviving cancer eight years.