Thanks for stopping by. I know a lot of Team in Training people are sent over here because I’m still an honoree, or honored patient, for the Peninsula Run Team. Others may be wandering here from some google search of APML or some other term (I get a lot of hits from “sea turtles” interestingly). Whatever the reason, welcome. I have gone inactive on this blog for about the past year, and wanted to update. And to give special mention to some of the TNT participants who’ve particularly inspired me lately.
The last entry here, about a year ago, showed some pretty nasty injuries from a bike accident. I did decide to not recommit for that season after that incident. I had been getting a bit further behind in training (and being new to cycling I needed all the training I could get). I also had some job troubles at that time as well. I’ll come back to cycling at a later point.
But I have stayed active with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, both with TNT and with Walk the Night at work. Right now, I’m an honoree for the Fall Peninsula Run Team, and have spoken at several information meetings each season. I’ve spoken at some track workouts and have worked a few waterstops during some of the longer training runs. Here’s a picture.
After having the difficulty with the cycling program I began to question if working with TNT and for LLS was still what I wanted to do. But I have continued. And this weekend, I had an experience which reminded me why I continue to work with runners/fundraisers for TNT.
I worked a waterstop at a training run at Portola Valley, where the participants ran anywhere between 8 and 12 miles depending on what event they were doing. It was a beautiful day, just beginning to be a bit warm at the end of the run. The program has many athletes of differing abilities, but having ran my first few events a couple years ago I’m always more impressed with the less experienced runners.
There was one, named Alissa Winzeler, who made a big impression on me. The runners went by our water stop on two occasions, once on the way out and another on the way back to the finish. On the way out Alissa looked good, and was in very good spirits. On the way back, she had run several miles, more she said than she’d ever run before. And she was crying. A lot of runners have physical ailments which may hurt them. And while she did have some aches, she said she wasn’t crying because she was hurting. She said the whole experience of the run, along with everything else going on in her life (she mentioned she was in the middle of a move this weekend) really moved her. She seemed a bit overwhelmed by the experience, thinking she wasn’t sure if she could complete this run, and making it through it. I saw her again at the end of the run, as she was finishing. She was still overwhelmed and tearful. I couldn’t have been more proud of her.
Here’s why I was so proud of her and her accomplishment, and this is why I love this program. Alissa is VOLUNTEERING her time and her energies to fund raise (she’s already met her minimum), and going through this program. Allissa didn’t have to fundraise. Heck, with her moving this weekend, she probably shouldn’t have taken the time to run. But she did. She ran farther than she ever had in her life, pushing herself further to achieve, being and doing more than is required. And all the while, doing something that raises funds for research into blood cancers, so others can live. That’s FANTASTIC.
She’s a better person for doing it, and the world is a better place for her doing it. She should be very proud of herself right now.
Allissa — and all other TNT participants — should be very proud of themselves right now. Because I’m proud of all of you. Thanks for all you do.
I’ll likely not update this again in the near future, but I’ll keep it up as an archive, and come back to it and update again at a later date.
This has been a very hard post to write. I’ve been putting it off.
While the last couple of seasons I’ve had a number of personal honorees I ran for, and still are a part of me and inspire me, I’m dedicating my training and my event to Travis.
I introduced Travis Wallace at this post. He was a nine-year survivor of leukemia and a fellow honoree for Team in Training. Travis had a tremendous spirit and zest for life. In the time since his last battle, he got married to a woman who I think is just terrific, Amy. Amy and Travis became very active in Team in Training. Not just as an honoree, but both of them became active participants, running in several marathons and half marathons. They also became mentors to other runners, and captains to help set up the program.
The picture below is my absolute favorite picture of Travis. It perfectly demonstrates his contributions to TNT and the people who he touched in it. Even though he was an honoree, it wasn’t about himself. It was about the cause, helping others understand the cause, and motivating them to make it through their events and succeed in their dreams. He touched hundreds of people in this program, just like this one instance captured forever in this photo.
If any of you ever wondered what makes Team in Training so special, this is it. People with gifts and talents helping others to meet their dreams, while helping to raise funds to help a worthy cause to find cures and make the lives of others better. Travis was one of those who people who made this happen.
Another is Travis’ wife, Amy. She was particularly helpful to me during my marathon last June in San Diego. It ended up being a very hot day, and I had a lot of difficulty with the heat and my water and sodium intake. I was basically sweating like a pig.
Amy ran with me for about 3 or 4 miles, giving me fluids and other refreshments, and just being there, encouraging, being very perky and friendly as she usual was. I really honestly wouldn’t have made it without her. I’ll always fondly remember her and another captain Carolyn who also ran with me that day.
I took a picture of both of Amy (on the left with the alien deely bobs) and Carolyn taken during the marathon:
Amy left just about after this pic was made because she wanted to finish with Travis, who was running a half marathon that day. He did well and finished.
Earlier this year, Travis and Amy gave birth to a beautiful daughter, McKenna.
A month after McKenna was born, about March, Travis found out he had relapsed.
He started treatment almost immediately. He went — for the third time in his 32 years of life — into the hospital and started chemotherapy. He found he would need a bone marrow transplant. He began a search and was able to find a suitable donor.
While in and out of the hospital, Travis spent time with McKenna. For his wedding anniversary, Travis took Amy on a very special trip. Here’s Amy’s words from her blog:
June 24th was our second wedding anniversary. We spent the night in Half Moon Bay at the Ritz where Travis proposed three years ago. It was awesome! We had massages, a great dinner, wine and champagne and an amazing time together, watching the sunset and walking on the beach. That’s the way to live!
On Thursday Trav chartered a helicopter and surprised me with a tour of San Francisco. We flew from the peninsula up through and around the city, under the Golden Gate bridge, down the coast and back up over the mountains. We even saw a whale off the coast of Half Moon Bay. It was amazing! My husband is incredibly romantic. Sorry ladies, he’s mine!
Here’s a pic of them on that special day:
A few days later in early July Travis went back into Stanford for his bone marrow transplant (BMT). He had to have more rounds of really harsh chemo to get ready for it. The BMT went well, and it was starting to take. But because of the harshness of the chemo Travis underwent, he developed both kidney and liver failure.
He struggled. But it was too much for him to overcome, even as young and strong as he was. He passed away on August 21.
In the last couple of years, Travis married a terrific beautiful person, ran marathons and helped others to run marathons, raised money and awareness of his struggles and the need for leukemia research, had a beautiful baby girl, and lived life to the fullest. If quality of life is the measure, Travis lived a great life.
A couple weeks before, I had contacted Amy to ask if I could train and ride in honor of Travis this season. I sent an email, and was afraid to take up too much of her time. This is what she wrote back:
We are absolutely honored and thankful to be a part of your training and help you with your fundraising. Please feel free to share with your friends, family and others, Travis’ story and website. Trav and I hope to ride along side of you in a century someday.
Well, Travis and Amy are riding with me this season. I’ve already on many occasions thought of Travis and Amy riding with me, encouraging me as Amy did in the marathon. They’ll be with me both during all the training and at the event.
The world is a little worse off without Travis here.
If you would like to see pictures of Travis and his family or read his story, please visit his caring bridge site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/traviswallace
Wow. Today’s Monday, and the marathon is this Sunday, June 3. I’ll be flying out Friday evening to San Diego. Here’s the website for the marathon, if you’re interested — San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon
I’ll be bringing the camera, and my laptop. I’ll be blogging over the weekend, including after the event. Check back to this blog Sunday and Monday.
As I get closer, the butterflies commence. I have run several miles several times since the Monterey run, and I’ve felt ready…. I can tell I am processing the run/walk in the way that I’ll be able to do it for several hours. I get into that “zone” and stay there. Still, I know what it was like to have some problens on mile 19 in Monterey, and know it will happen again. While ready for it, I can’t help thinking about it.
So a few things keep me going, and let me know I’ll make it.
The first is all of you — the many diverse family, friends, co-workers and others who have honored me by donating for me. I am proud to say that, with the last few donations, and when the matching funds from work is counted, I will have surpassed $6,000 in donations. Thank you to all — you’ve made this all worth it.
Another thing that will keep me going is remembering the honored patients, friends and family I’ve introduced you to will be there (go to the link at their names below their pictures to go to that blog entry) —
and others who have been mentioned privately to me — I’ll remember them all.
Another that will stick with me is remembering an origami crane.
One person from AIG in the SF office, Mary Hancock, who made a donation also gave me a little goodie bag for the marathon. In it were some sunscreen packets (nifty!) an AIG cap, and an origami crane. The origami crane was also in purple, one of TNT’s colors. (Mary whas been a past participant, having walked the San Diego Rock N Roll marathon a few years ago for TNT.)
We got to talking about the origami crane, and we started talking about he history of it. While origami cranes have been around for centuries, it has a history in the 20th century involving leukemia.
In 1956 a young Japanese girl in 1956 named Sadako Sasaki was running a race and collapsed. Turns out, she had leukemia. As a toddler, she had been in Hiroshima and had been exposed to radiation.
According to a Japanese legend, the crane lives for a thousand years, and a sick person who folds 1,000 origami cranes will become well again. So, in an attempt to find a cure for her leukemia Sadako started on a quest to fold 1,000 of the cranes. While she passed away before getting to 1,000, she is remembered as a symbol of peace, along with the crane itself.
The ironies in this story really struck me. Here’s a young girl who discovered she had leukemia while running, while we run to find a cure for leukemia. Also, she attempted to find a cure for herself through legend, while we attempt to find a cure through funding scientific research.
Here’s hoping that the money we raise for research can help to keep other young girls like Sadako to be able to run later in life and survive leukemia.
I’ll be taking the crane with me on the run.
One of my very good friends from many years back with whom I’ve kept up – Susan – told me recently that she was very proud of me for all I’m doing training for a marathon, being a recovering (recovered?) patient.
I thought that was very odd, for a couple of reasons. First, Susan herself has done a fundraiser/endurance event for Team in Training – she did the Treasure Island Triathlon in San Francisco in 2002, and at that time I was one of her honored patients in whose honor she ran. I saw her do it, and have a picture of the two of us just prior to the event.
Susan did an Olympic distance – no small feat herself. Training for a tri is very demanding, with many days twice daily training events. I was as much proud of her as she is me now.
The other reason I always find it odd for people to tell me how proud they are of me for how far I’ve come, is that I still feel like I haven’t gone through anywhere near what other people have gone through, who inspire me. I’ve already introduced you to two honorees, Doug and Carol. Another is Travis.
I’ve known Travis for several TNT seasons. He was a speaker at a recent honoree event, and it reminded me of what so many other people have gone through – are going through – will go through some day, without better treatments.
While in high school, Travis had a form of leukemia. He underwent chemotherapy, and went into remission. About 4 ½ years later, he relapsed. This time he had to have both radiation and a bone marrow transplant, after being lucky enough to find a bone marrow donor. The BMT required SIX MONTHS straight in isolation. He mentions that he had vomiting over 40 straight days while there.
But he made it to remission, and currently has no evidence of the disease himself. He has gotten married, and leads a healthy full life. He’s been both an honoree and a participant for TNT for several seasons.
Travis is a reminder of me of just one of the countless examples – ones whose stories we may not have heard – of people who have struggles that go beyond what we can comprehend. And right now, there are people in hospitals all around the country – Stanford, UCSF, MD Anderson, everywhere – who are going through similar or worse. I run in honor of all of them as well. The patients of all ages, parents, spouses, children, grandchildren, friends – all of whom struggle with this.
I used to feel like my story wasn’t as good as others, that other people have struggled more than me, and perhaps with the good outcome I had (no radiation, no BMT) that I wasn’t as meaningful a story as others.
Then I realized it – my story is a good story for participants to hear: my story symbolizes the hope that new treatments can change deadly diseases to ones with positive outcomes, that allow for cures. We need more stories like mine, and research that TNT funds can help make those happen. So I don’t feel as undeserving to be an honoree anymore.
I introduced Doug a while back, but had great news about him today. Two things —
1) He leaves tomorrow for Rome. Lucky him… He’s attending the Rome Marathon as a honoree/cheerleader/supporter for the TNT marathon training team he has been working with. And, spending a couple of weeks there.
2) Much, much more importantly, he had his most recent testing and found out he’s still disease free.
Doug has a chronic form of lymphoma. Living with a chronic disease in remission is tough, so to have another report that everything is free and clear…. that’s so terrific.
Here’s a link to his bio, for more info. It’s a great story.
And Doug deserves it. He is a tireless volunteer/honoree for TNT. Since he has retired, his whole life is attending TNT events, and being an incredible inspiration for those who don’t have a connection. He’s doing something for TNT almost every day, every weekend, every training session for several TNT teams at a time. So many people have been inspired to excel and achieve because of him.
Enjoy Rome, Doug! Looking forward to pictures.
On Saturday the 27th we had the official start of the training season for Team in Training. It’s called the kickoff, and over 500 people who are training for, or coaching, all of the sports TNT has for this season gets together and gets energized for the cause.
In the main program, Karen Nelson, the head of the Silicon Valley TNT program, starts off the program talking about how the funds raised will be used. She said there are specific research programs at Stanford that are funded by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (L&LS). Nice to know that funds go directly to research done right here.
Then we heard a keynote speaker, an honoree who tells her story. I’ve done these in years past, and know what an honor they are to do, and how powerful it is to tell people of your story. Remember, while I have been around TNT for many seasons, most of the people participating have no connection to blood cancers, and may never have heard some of these stories. The training programs are so good, that many people sign up and participate just for the opportunity to complete an endurance event. So this kickoff speech is huge motivator.
Carol was a terrific person to accomplish this. In her story, she said she’s unusual, in that she was diagnosed with a chronic form of leukemia, but had never progressed to the point of needing treatment. So she’s been an honoree and a participant, having walked a marathon, rode a century bicycle race, AND completed a sprint distance triathlon. And you’d never ever guess all that from looking at her. She looks like the very friendly lady in front of you at Safeway.
However, she’s begun to have symptoms, and likely will need to start going through treatment. So she made a tremendous appeal for further research to assist in her recovery. Even more devastating, she mentioned some other honorees who are beginning to lose their battle – one is in Stanford right now, fighting a fungal infection in her lungs. Carol did a tremendous job and was very inspirational. My thoughts are with you through your treatment, Carol…..
Then we broke into specific rooms for our own groups and specific teams. I’m part of the North Peninsula Run Team, which trains for running a marathon in locations just south of San Francisco on the “peninsula.” There we were introduced to the program, our coaches and other volunteer assistants, and the training program.
But the big motivating thing about the kickoff was not me and my program, but once again being an honoree. An honoree is a patient who works with the team and introduces those who don’t have a connection to one of the blood cancers to the disease and the recovery. That’s what this program is all about. And as I’ve said earlier, this will be a unique (for me) opportunity to be a participant/honoree. I think I’ll be able to make an even more unique impact on the participants, going through what they are going through while introducing them to what I went through. These kickoff programs are motivating for me in normal years; I am REALLY REALLY looking forward to this season.
And so it begins! Yikes!!
The program itself IS kinda daunting. We will slowly build up mileage each week as a group on our long runs on Saturdays, up to a height of 20 miles a couple weeks before the marathon. That will be the highest before the actual marathon (26.3 miles – apparently not running the whole thing is fine). There are lots of parts to the program, but it includes weekly runs and coached track workouts, with lots of clinics and other information about completing the program. I know I can do it, since I’ve seen people in worse shape than I am start and complete a marathon. BUT ME????
I know there will be a lot of support. The TNT program is great in that we have a whole group of dedicated volunteer coaches, captains, mentors and other great people who will support, encourage and steer me toward the completion of the program. I’ve seen them do it for hundreds of novice runners before me, and they can do it for me.
Here’s one of the big reasons I do this — Carolyn, perhaps the sweetest person I’ve ever met, and a long time volunteer for the cause….
And Sam. He’s going to be an honoree again this season, so I’ll be glad to have him there.
Now I’m going to honor some of the people who inspire me, and for whom I will be running. There are lots of people who inspire me, but I have to start with Doug. Doug was perhaps the first other patient struggling with leukemia that I got to know. He has a chronic form of lymphoma.
I’ve gotten to know Doug well over the last few years, having been a fellow Honoree for some of the Team in Training programs over the last few years.
We took a great trip to Washington DC last fall. We agreed to take this trip while he was recuperating from a recurrence of his lymphoma. Last spring his lymphoma came back. It’s again in remission, but it’s very possible it may come back.
Doug is the personification of the need for continued research into new treatments and cures. There are thousands of people all across the country in his same situation – people for whom their quality of lives are diminished (or shortened) by recurring diseases. And although I haven’t gotten to know many of the others, I do know Doug. He is a tremendous person, with great spirit, energy, and a renewed appreciation of life. He spends almost all the time he has volunteering to cheer on TNT teams all over the Bay Area.
I’m honored to know Doug, and to be running in his honor.
Another set of posts will cover why I am running and fundraising for a marathon.
The short answer is the “C” word — cure, and celebration of the 5th year of being disease free. The stories of what I went through five years ago are being documented. See the tab “About this blog” and “About APML” tabs at the header for more detail, if you haven’t already.
But it runs even deeper than that. There are people who I’ll introduce you to, fellow honorees for TNT, who face much more than I have, and I had a lot. There are others some of you may not have met, but who have been lost to blood cancers, and other types of cancers, who I run in honor of.
But the first reason I want to mention is this: I have no idea why any of this happened to me. Why do things happen to a person? Is there a reason for the things we go through? I used to wonder why I got this and what it meant. I also wondered why my prognosis was so good, why my treatment wasn’t as difficult as others have gone through, and why I survived where others didn’t.
I spent the first few years after my survival wondering these questions, and feeling like I never got the reason, the life-changing “I’m going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro” drive that pushes other survivors to understand their diseases and enjoy life more.
But in the last year or so, as I’ve spoken to TNT participants and prospective participants at various functions telling my story, I’ve come to realize something. My story, my survival, is representative of the hope that leukemia research — the kind of research that Team in Training fundraising programs go to fund — can save lives. That research saved my life, and allowed me to be treated in ways that don’t require severe treatment regimens. I now realize that I have a great story, and a great gift in the ability to speak well, and the ability to tell my story of how TNT participation and fundraising saves lives like mine to great effect.
So I am running now, to complete the circle. I have gone from not understanding, to understanding how research into treatments saved my life, and the power of fundraising for research to save other lives. Now, I want to do my part to raise funds as well. I’ll always tell my story to help others understand how raising funds for leukemia research saves lives like mine. Now, I want to start raising funds of my own, and get the benefits you gets when you train and complete the endurance event.
And I also realize another benefit –I have moved participants and trainees in the TNT program, but as an observer, an outsider. As a fellow participant it will be even more of an impact. So this marathon is to help others be able to be cured and celebrate, while celebrating my own cure.
One of the things I want to do in addition to just providing the history is to identify, praise and honor those who made a huge impact in my recovery. You never recover from such a devastating disease without a lot of help from a lot of people. So upcoming posts will be about individuals who made a difference.
And help takes a lot of forms. First and foremost it’s those who were there at the bedside and during the recuperation. But it also it’s anyone who send a card, called, emailed, prayed for me, or just kept me in their thoughts. There will be more people than I can ever get to, and if you don’t see yourself on the list yet — just wait, I’ll get to you.
But I have to start with Sam. Click the link below to read more about Sam after the jump.