Thursday, April 29, 2010

This is Sarah, an inspiraton

This is Sarah. My wife Sarah was diagnosed four years ago at ageAdd Video 34. I remember it as if it were yesterday, sitting beside her on the stairs as she collapsed into tears and whispered, "This can't be happening. I can't leave our sons without a mother..." I comforted her with the thought that it might only be a localized tumor, that we shouldn't jump to conclusions. But the next bomb soon dropped on us: as Sarah endured heavy rounds of initial chemo, a scan showed that the cancer had already spread and she was now stage IV. To calm some of our worst fears, her doc explained that we were now running a marathon, not a sprint. I think this turned out to be a pretty good comparison. Sarah has shown incredible determination and endurance while managing to still be a great mom to our boys. In these past few years, she has fought through a mastectomy, brain surgery, gall bladder removal, surgical radio-embolization of her liver, multiple rounds of radiation and so much chemo I've almost lost count. But most of the time you wouldn't know it if you were talking to her - in all this time she's managed to keep her spirits high and stay focused on life today, not fear of tomorrow. Despite frequent nausea, fatigue, anxiety and a dizzying schedule of doctor's appointments, she keeps up with friends and family and does homework (and much more!) with our boys. With selfless love and concern, she just keeps on giving to those around her even though her condition has worsened. And we love her right back. Thank you to the many many people who have been helping us on this difficult journey. Sarah is now back on chemo and has tumors in several organs and in her bones. But thankfully we are still in the race, still running that marathon.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This is Janet, an inspiration

This is Janet. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. She is "lucky" - she was diagnosed with non-invasive intraductal carcinoma. They told her, "If you have to have breast cancer, this is the one you want to have". Hardly. Comparatively, though, she is "lucky". Her cancer required a lumpectomy and radiation treatments. However, as with many stories, it doesn't end there. She happens to be part of a small percentage of people who are allergic to radiation. Therefore, she suffered severe radiation burns to her upper torso and lives with constant discomfort, itching and deformities from the radiation burns. It's a small price to pay, though, because she's been cancer free since 2004 - officially in remission! Every year, it is an anxious time as we wait for mammogram and other test results. So far, there has also been a collective sigh of relief when we get the results. Janet is a vibrant, intelligent, loving wife, mother, grandmother and sister. She has lots of roles to play and many lives to enrich, so we all need her around. Her battle with breast cancer certainly doesn't define her, it just reinforces what I already knew. She's tough. Along with Sarah, my Mom is an inspiration for this event. She has taught me about strength, courage and perseverance throughout my life. I want to channel that into something positive and helpful for people and families affected by breast cancer. It's the least I can do.

Monday, April 26, 2010

This is Charmaine, an inspiration

This is Charmaine my sister, my best friend and now my guardian angel. There are not enough words to describe my sister. She was an inspiration to all who knew her. Her story is one of triumph. A single mother with a heart of gold, Charmaine was diagnosed in 1987 at the age of 32 with Breast Cancer. The doctors told her she possibly had 5 years to live with 3 small children at home, she told them it just was not enough time. So she fought and was in remission until 1999 when her cancer returned. Yet, she continued to fight. Throughout the past ten years, we've watched he survive mets to the bone, liver, & finally the brain. Charmaine passed away March 8, 2010 surrounded by her family. Charmaine would tell you she cheated this disease for the past 23 years, but I still say she survived. I miss my sister every day, but she had a saying she used whether she was talking about our Thanksgiving dinner, going for surgery, or just going for a walk: "I'm good to go!" and now so am I. I want this fundraiser to benefit those who are living with this disease in their family and for them to realize that they too are "GOOD TO GO!!" because her 23 year battle should not be in vain. What Charmaine's body and mind could no longer do her spirit soars to accomplish!!

This is Barb, an inspiration

This is Barb, a wonderful mother, wife and friend. My Mom, who I miss every day. She was a person who could love anyone and in return, you couldn't help but love her back. She had 6 children, 13 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren, and loved all of us unconditionally. She lived for her family and would do anything to keep us happy. She touched more lives than any of us ever knew. Unfortunately that ended on March 11, 2010, when she passed away from Metastatic Breast Cancer. She was originally diagnosed in 2006 with Stage IIB Breast Cancer and had a lumpectomy and the affected lymph nodes were removed. She then underwent chemotherapy and radiation, which for her was no easy feat. She had multiple hospital stays due to the effects of the chemotherapy. We were ecstatic when they told us that she was "cancer free". She never once said, "Why me", she never felt badly for herself. She just fought the fight as graciously as she knew how. She always said that she did what she was told, went for the mammograms followed up with all the doctors and to no avail, the cancer returned to her liver in December 2009 and she was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer. Still, she continued to fight. Once again, it was decided that chemotherapy would be the best way to "beat" this. In late December she tried chemotherapy and ended up in the hospital for a blood transfusion and hydration due to the effects of the therapy. We waited another few weeks and then in February she tried chemotherapy again and ended up back in the hospital, this time she could not fight the disease like she wanted to. She gave up the fight as graciously as she fought the fight. I am doing this race for her and so many others.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Green light!

Before I've even had a chance to introduce the inspriation(s) behind our effort, I have an update. We got the official "go ahead" from our Village Events Planning Committee this morning!! What a pleasant experience...the members were so supportive and helpful. We felt welcomed and validated by this group. Aside from asking the necessary questions, they provided helpful suggestions and wished us nothing but the best. Moments like this help me realize the true nature of most people and the desire of others to make a difference. It helps us move forward with excitement and purpose. Thank you, Village of Arlington Heights! Now we know it's really going to happen, it's exciting and a little scary. Once again, I just need to remind myself of the reason for this race. One thing is for sure (as my running partners and I now like to say), "this isn't your ordinary bake sale".

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How the F.A.B. 5K was born

I bet you know someone with breast cancer. If you don't, I think that is wonderful. Though, chances are you know someone and quite possibly love or care very deeply about that someone.

We are a group of four friends who share the love of running and a very close connection to a family member and/or friend with breast cancer. In a single week this past March, we lost one Mom, one sister, watched one Mom finish her last round of radiation due to a second occurance, one sister begin reconstruction surgery after a double mastectomy, and a very close friend take a severe beating from the effects of stage IV breast cancer.

You may's such a helpless feeling watching friends lose family members, worry about moms,siblings, friends, and know you can't do anything to make the physical or emotional pain go away. We decided during our early morning runs that a way to channel our frustration in a positive way and encourage the same from others was to create an event that would support someone going through this.

This blog will introduce you to those women this event is dedicated to. It will also follow us through the planning and execution of the race. This race isn't for us - it's for them: the loved ones who taught us all about what's important; how to show love for one another; why it's important to give it your best; how to to make a difference. I hope we're channeling them - this is a cake walk compared to what they've been through.