People in whose honor I train
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.
Along with Doug and the other people who are struggling with blood related cancers, I run for and honor some special people in my life. One is one of my favorite aunts, Aunt Martha.
Aunt Martha was one of those colorful, wonderful, cheerful loving people that the world needs more of. She was lively, always quick with her wit, her sometimes colorful in her language, but all the time loving and caring. She took good care of me, my brothers and sisters, and all my cousins as we were growing up. Our families spent summers and special occaisions together, including special summer weeks at Lake Proctor in Texas. She made sure all of us had fun and smiled.
Unfortunately we lost this very special person to cancer in the early 1990s. I honor her, and run/fundraise in her honor, for a very special reason.
You see, research funded by Team in Training programs like the one I am in help to discover therapies that can help treat and prevent all kinds of cancers, not just blood cancers. One of the major research initiatives have created what is called “targeted therapies.” I’ve mentioned chemotherapy – that kills cells all over the body just to kill cancerous cells, and in doing so kills all cells and causes side effects. Targeted therapies go after specific cells that the treatment targets. Many of these targeted therapies for blood cancers are making a difference for all types of cancers.
So, research for TNT programs can help to find better treatments and cures for all kinds of cancers. It’s too late for her, obviously, but hopefully these treatments can help other quick witted loving people, just like Aunt Martha.
I’ll be thinking of you when I’m training and out there in my marathon, Aunt Mert.
There’s another person who’ll be with me when I train for and run the marathon — Peggy Cwik.
Peggy was the first person from AIG Consultants I met in person after I was hired. She was flown out to San Francisco to do my orientation in June 1999. And what a refreshing personality she provided; quite an interesting beginning.
Peggy has a life spirit and sense of humor of her very own. While she would often be cynical and quick witted, she had a heart of gold. She was a very hard worker, and was loved by her fellow consultants, her clients, and everyone. What she didn’t tell that many people was regularly she volunteered at a local nursing home almost every week.
I loved working with her, traveling with her, and talking about AIG and her life with her.
Then comes the surprise – just last spring we heard she was taking a few months off to begin chemotherapy for uterine cancer. She struggled most of 2006. And just after the first of the year, she relapsed, and finally succumbed to her illness.
Here’s hoping, just like with Aunt Martha, that the funds raised for Team in Training and the Society will help find treatments and cures that can help people with the life spirit Peggy had to live the life they desire. I’m running this season for you, too, Peggy.
I never met Samuel Sandoval. He was not here on this earth that long. He was born in April 2003. He was a happy healthy baby until he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) in early 2004. He then began treatment.
His treatment was not easy. Even though our ages and conditons were quite different, I can relate to what he went through in a few ways. One of the things we shared in our treatment was the need for multiple bone marrow biopsies. I’ve already talked about my challenges with them; Samuel had the same problem. After speaking to a Team in Training group last fall his mother came up to me and said Samuel also had a number of unsuccessful attempts, and a lot of pain. At that age Samuel couldn’t speak; his mother said hearing my story was the first time she understood what Samuel had gone through. I know how he felt. I was an adult at the time; I can only imagine what it was like for him and what he was thinking.
Unfortunately, our stories diverge. Only after a few weeks of chemotherapy, Samuel lost his battle. Just a few weeks before his first birthday.
I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Samuel’s mother, Helen. She’s a funny, dynamic person. She’s run a half marathon for TNT already, and is the Honoree Captain for the Peninsula Run Team that I’m training with.
I know it’s still difficult for her. But she gives of herself and her story so much for the cause, and she graciously allowed me to use Samuel’s story. She’s a very brave person I admire greatly.
I run in honor of both Samuel and Helen.
This blog entry has been very difficult to write. Let’s hope we don’t have to hear many more stories like this going forward. We need the Samuels of the world to run with us.