Training on Hold

Twice this spring, my marching orders have become “no activity”. When you are trying to train for a 3-day, 300 mile bike ride in early August, spending a week in May and then at least two more weeks in mid-June without being able to ride your bike at all is not the ideal situation. Thankfully, the winter and early spring was relatively mild and I was able to log some solid outdoor mileage during a time when I am usually sitting on the trainer in the basement.

So why these periods of “no activity”?  Well, here’s the story. Because of all the radiation and chemo-therapy treatments I have received over the past twenty years, I am susceptible to having a “second cancer”, a new, seemingly unrelated cancer. The list of possibilities includes melanoma, which means that I now make annual trips to the dermatologist.

My most recent visit in May found a “compound lentiginous dysplastic nevus with moderate to severe atypia and focal scar”. Translation: a mole that doesn’t look quite right that may (or may not) eventually become a melanoma. Therefore, on the spot, the dermatologist removed the mole from my lower back with the instruction to “take it easy for a week or so”. When pushed on what that meant, I was told “no exercise, let the wound heal, to reduce risk of infection”. That was the first week of no cycling. Not a big deal – it was May and here in Baltimore it rained nearly the entire month. But it did keep me from going out at least twice, possibly three times.

Well, when your dermatologist tries to remove a mole, they don’t like it when they leave some of it behind on your body, which is what happened to me. So, back to the outpatient center I went last week, expecting a quick procedure to “get the margins” of the mole and be done for at least this round. After finding this mole and seeing all my other moles on my back, the dermatologist in May suggested that my annual appointment should become a twice a year visit. But this visit wasn’t to dermatology, it was to “dermatology surgery”. I really hadn’t expect that to mean that they would really take a nice healthy chunk of my lower right back out of me and need to both suture AND stitch me up. Two more weeks of “no activity”. Not my ideal way to spend the first two weeks of summer. Argh!

The good news is that I don’t have a melanoma and that I am being watched closely. My lymph node situation continues, of course, so I am truly the ‘watched pot”. I hope I “don’t boil”.  This time to reflect on how carefully I am being watched, and the three different people that I have known this year who have been fortunate to have their cancers detected early has been a tremendous reminder to me of the importance of vigilance and annual physicals. If you are 40 years old, get in the habit of going to see your primary care physician every year. If something doesn’t seem right, go see your doctor. This is the reason why I am still alive. I found a lump in my neck in January 1996. I was seen by a doctor 2 days later. Five years ago, I found the lump in my groin. I hadn’t started seeing a PCP here in Baltimore yet, so I found one, made an appointment for three days later on a Friday. After this appointment, I had an CT scan on Monday, and an appointment with a surgeon on Tuesday. Timing is everything! While I am frustrated that a mole on my back is keeping me off my bike, I am grateful that I am the ‘watched pot’ and that it was only “atypical” and had not yet had the chance to fully develop into melanoma.

Just another reason why I ride the Pan Mass Challenge, to help improve the detection and the treatment of the diseases we know as cancer. The way that cancer will be defeated is through research, and the only way that can happen is if we the people fund it. That’s why I ride. If you would to help end cancer in our lifetime, a goal that I know we can achieve, please donate here today100% of your donation to the PMC will be used for live-saving cancer research and treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing you on the road – hopeful on my bike, soon. All the best!

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Long Time, No Blog

It has been a while since I last wrote. It certainly has not been because I haven’t been thinking about the PMC. Nor has it been that I haven’t been thinking about friends and friends of friends who are actively in their own personal battles against cancer. The basic reason is that life is being lived.

Much of the time that I spent blogging over the past years, since my recurrence, has thankfully been claimed by training for the PMC. Since first getting back outside in early April, I have logged over 600 miles and 40 hours riding around Baltimore, and in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, too. I am on pace to do more training than I have ever done for the PMC before. And it is a good thing too, because I am planning that in 2 months that I’ll be riding 300 miles in 3 days from one end of Massachusetts to the other.

Roadside, Western Connecticut Emu
Roadside, Western Connecticut Emu
Another training ride across state lines
Another training ride across state lines

Each time I roll out for a training ride, I proudly wear one of my many PMC or Team Forza-G jerseys, knowing that I am part of a fundraising army. One on a mission, each year going a little bit farther than the last. I recently told someone here in Maryland about the PMC. I told them how far I was going to ride. Jaw drops. I told them how many people. Jaw drops a little further. Then I told them how much money – $45 million. They asked “over how many years?” to which I replied “that’s this year”. Jaw hits floor. I’ve had this same conversation again and again. The scope of what the PMC and all of the riders is trying to do is massive. And it is necessary. And it will one day be completed.

But that day has not yet come… so we continue to train, and push ourselves to go farther. To come back from battling cancer to inspire and help lead the charge. To ask again, for what probably seems like the 100th time, for donations. To dream about the day that I won’t need to do that. To worry about the day that I won’t be able to do any of this. But until that day, I will push on, like so many have before me, and so many more inspiringly do each and every day.

Now that you have taken the time to read this post today, won’t you take another moment, to make a difference yourself by giving? 100% of your donation to the PMC will be used for live-saving cancer research and treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Basically, your donation will save someone’s life. Someone like me.

All you have to do is click here…..

With my amazing Forza-G teammate Suzanne at the PMC Living Proof Portrait Portrait Project opening reception at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Suzanne was one of the 43 survivors featured in this work by photographer Michael Casey.

Reminders of The Journey

At the beginning of April each year, I always have cancer on my mind. For both my bouts with cancer, April is when all the surgeries and treatments started. In the past week, I have been reminded of the collective power of those that have survived through the Pan-Mass Challenge​ #LivingProof Portrait Project, the enormous challenge in front of the cancer research community to find a cure via the PBS series “Cancer: Emperor of All Maladies”, the possibility of that cure being found sooner than later by the thanks to the 60 Minutes segment on the polio vaccine clinical trials happening at Duke right now, and the tremendous heartbreak that a friend’s family is experiencing as one of their own enters her final days.

With my amazing Forza-G teammate Suzanne at the PMC Living Proof Portrait Portrait Project opening reception at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Suzanne was one of the 43 survivors featured in this work by photographer Michael Casey.
With my amazing Forza-G teammate Suzanne at the PMC Living Proof Portrait Portrait Project opening reception at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Suzanne was one of the 43 survivors featured in this work by photographer Michael Casey.

One of the patients featured in Episode 2 received her treatment at Hopkins, so there are many of the images of her and other patients in this episode are in the very rooms where I received my treatment in 2011. It was a difficult watch for me yet fascinating and I encourage you to take the time. Episode 3 airs tonight on PBS and all are being replayed so set the DVR (or you can watch online at the link below)

Episode 1: Watch Here
Episode 2: Watch Here
Episode 3: (I will add the link when it gets posted)

Quite the week

Last week started with me celebrating my 19th anniversary as a cancer survivor. But it was filled by three events that mark the ups and downs of my life with cancer.

The first event was by far the saddest and most tragic. We learned that the mother of another child at our daughter’s daycare was taken from her family far too young by colon cancer. Our daycare community in the last week has been rallying around the surviving  husband and their two young daughters. My prayers for this man have been focused on allowing him to remember his wife and their love with happiness and not heartache.

The second event was the exact opposite news – A college friend announced that she had just had stage one melanoma removed surgically and that she was now cancer free.The melanoma was found one week after she gave birth to her first daughter. Kind of the exact opposite. Her prognosis is excellent she is now cancer free and she has already started to preach the importance of sunscreen, as she recently posted online:

 “Know your body, trust your instincts, go to your dermatologist bi-annually (or anytime something new crops up or changes) AND WEAR SUN SCREEN ALL THE TIME, even in your car or out running errands. These actions can save your life – it did mine.”

Well said!

@ waterstop 4, day 1
At a rest stop during the 2010 PMC – Norm at right. So excited he’s getting in the saddle this year and riding first Pan-Mass Challenge!

The third and final event is one that brings me great joy. After many years of watching and supporting me in my PMC rides (including waking up at 4am on Sunday morning to drive me to the second day start in Bourne – he didn’t do this just once, he has done it EVERY SINGLE YEAR), my father-in-law Norm has decided to join the cause himself. He will be riding with me and my team from Sturbridge to Provincetown the first weekend in August. Pretty freaking cool.

I invite you to support Norm’s PMC ride, just as you have generously supported me through the years, especially if your last name is Decker, Pazzaglini, Blandini, Narog, Barr, Scanlon, or Mamer, just to name a few.

As always, this ride is all about putting an end to cancer. The race is not to get to the finish line in Provincetown, but the race is to save lives. Whether you make a donation to me or Norm or another PMC rider, you can rest assured that 100% of your donation is going into the research that ultimately will save lives.

Donate today:  Andy Seguin  |  Norm Decker 

Training and Fundraising Update – March 2014

As promised, here is my monthly review of the goals that I laid out for 2014.

Goal 1: Go Farther.  My ‘go farther goal’ is to ride 300 miles in 3 days from the New York/Massachusetts border all the way to Provincetowon the first weekend of August over PMC weekend.   Which means I need to train my tail off between now and August 1!  So far this year, I have spent 27 hours on the trainer, doubling the amount I did in 2013. And I have already gotten outside for a couple of rides, including a 40-mile trek to Annapolis.

Goal 2: Go Faster.   It is hard to really hard for me to know how all this extra time on the trainer inside is going to translate to riding outside. Until you get out and do it… with two outdoor rides already under my belt, I have to say, things are going pretty well. One hill in particular used to challenge me a couple of years ago. In fact, I was going so slow one time up it, I fell over. Last year, I mastered climbing that hill. And in my first trip up it in 2014, I set a personal best climbing that hill. First shot… I would say I am getting a little faster!

Goal 3: Fundraise More.  After the successful February #18for18 campaign that so many of you donated to, I thought it would be tough to keep up the momentum in March. Well, you proved me wrong again, with donations totaling over $1,100 for the month of March. That pushes the total for the year to date to over $2,164, or 21% of this year’s goal. This is by far the most that has been donate before the end of March, by about 2.5 times. Thank you to all 41 families who have already made a difference!

Goal 4: Think Bigger.   This means adding new ways for me to ask people to support the PMC.  The #18for18 campaign was one of these new ways. I also want to thank everyone who donated in honor of my birthday. Those gifts are so humbling to me. Of the 41 people who donated, 15 are new donors.  I have some more ideas on the way soon, but don’t forget that these two new ways to support my ride already in place for 2014!

  1. First, my high school classmate and independent fantasy author  Jamie Tinker.  He is donating 1/2 of the proceeds of sales from his first book The Widow’s Warning to the PMC! His book is now available on Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, & Nook! Download and enjoy it today and help cure cancer in the process! Thank you Jamie for your help!
  2.  Follow this link next time you purchase something from Amazon, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the PMC!

April is sure to be a big month! Keep your eyes open for another Talking GOOD profile (here’s a link to my first profile, in case you missed it) and, hopefully, so more outdoor riding!

Training and Fundraising Recap – February 2014

Earlier this year, back when it was snowy and cold, er, I mean back in January,  I laid out some goals for 2014.  And I promised that I would share my progress towards them them each month. Since the Baltimore area gets hit by another embarrassingly devastating 6 inches of snow yesterday, I had the time to sit down and put the February recap together. Here goes:

Goal 1: Go Farther.  My ‘go farther goal’ is to ride from the New York/Massachusetts border all the way to Provincetown in 3 days the first weekend of August over PMC weekend.   This target motivates me each time I get on my bike, inside on the trainer or outside tackling the hills of Baltimore County. Which leads me to….

Goal 2: Go Faster.  January was a great start for my training this year, and I kicked it up another notch in February. I trained on 14 different days, do a total of 14.5 hours.  In just the 28 days of February alone, I surpassed my total indoor training in 2013.  So far this year, I’ve done more than 24 hours on the trainer. I am pretty much ready to get outside.  A lot of this extra training came thanks to the #18for18 campaign that so many of you donated to!

Goal 3: Fundraise More.  Speaking of #18for18, I asked all of you to make a donation on February 22nd to celebrate my 18th anniversary of my first cancer diagnosis.  I really was expecting maybe 6 or 8 donations from this ask, but 26 amazing people ended up donating, pushing my February fundraising to over $950. To date, over $1,000 has been donated so far, the most I’ve had donated before February 28th ever. Thank you for helping me get to 10% of my goal this year. 

Goal 4: Think Bigger.   This means adding new ways for people to support the PMC.  The #18for18 campaign was one of these new ways. Of the 24 people who donated, half of them are new donors.  I have some more ideas on the way soon, but don’t forget that these two new ways to support my ride already in place for 2014!

  1. First, my high school classmate and independent fantasy author  Jamie Tinker.  He is donating 1/2 of the proceeds of sales from his first book The Widow’s Warning to the PMC! His book is now available on Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, & Nook! Download and enjoy it today and help cure cancer in the process! Thank you Jamie for your help!
  2.  Follow this link next time you purchase something from Amazon, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the PMC!

Finally, I’ll share this Vine video that I posted this month of Shannon going for early season bike ride:

A Milestone Donation

Hey Cancer - You Cannot Do Much!
Hey Cancer – You Cannot Do Much!

Since 2006, I have been asking for donations to the Pan Mass Challenge and 253 people have helped. As of last Friday morning, the total amount that you all have collectively made sat at $49,940.

So, as I am known to do, I took to Facebook and asked again for someone to help me reach this admittedly selfish milestone. I thought that it would be a pretty cool to reach $50k and it is something that I have been targeting since the summer of 2011 when I was going through cancer treatment again.

To all the people and their families who have donated and to the countless others people who have made my PMC journey the tremendously fulfilling part of my life that it is — THANK YOU!

While it is true that there is no gold pin or special sticker for reaching this milestone, at least not for me.  To the benefactor that made the donation that pushed us past the mark, I will be sending a PMC Sticker!  And that honor goes to my college friend Sarah! Her donation pushed the total overall amount donated from my friends, families, colleagues, and acquaintances to cancer research in less than 8 years to $50,040.48 .

There is a long way to go still to reach the ultimate goal – no more cancer! Please don’t think that this milestone means I am done… this is only the beginning. If you are reading this and you haven’t donated, it is easy, safe, and secure at http://www.pmc.org/as0171 and you are going to make a difference in the fight against cancer.  The next goal that I have set for our motley and generous crew is for this year to match the total amount the Pan-Mass Challenge raised in its 1st year in 1980 – $10,200. It is early March, and we are 10% of the way there.

On a ‘Andy’s Cancer History” note – I do believe Sarah was one of the first dozen people that I told about my first diagnosis with cancer about 18 years ago.