Half-life

I am often telling Michele that “today is another one of MY DAYS“. An anniversary that only I remember – the days I found a lump, the days I was diagnosed, the days of my surgeries, the days that I found out that the cancer that had invaded me was gone, the days that the treatments ended.

Today is another one of those days.

First and foremost, it is my birthday, so it is a day that I share with my mom and dad, my family, and my friends. But this one, I have been thinking about for a while.

I was diagnosed with Type 2A Hodgkins Lymphoma when I was 22 years old. I have now celebrated 22 birthdays since that DAY. So half of the birthdays of my life.  One of the images that I comes to mind is of a young girl, maybe 8 or 9, who I would sit in the radiation oncology waiting room with way back in 1996. I don’t remember speaking with her. I remember her and her mom vividly. But I’ve been thinking that her half-life day would would been as a teenager. I hope that she made it to see that birthday and many more.

 

Also on our mind these days is a dear family friend and her kids. All signs so far are good that she will see many more birthdays – her own, and those of her girls.

And sadly on my mind as well today are two families that have recently lost a dear family member from this disease after long, challenging battles. May the remainder of their days be filled with good memories of their loved ones, rather than the harsh realities of their lives with cancer.

I will undoubtedly be serenaded with “Happy Birthday” a number of times today. I am thankful to be around to hear those lyrics.  Twice in my life, my birthday was shrouded by the specter of cancer.  Then, thanks to all the research, clinical trials, and bravery of the cancer patients who came before me, I received life-saving treatment. I will never forget those birthdays as the uncertainty and fear that filled those days have motivated me to this day.

Today, I encourage you to think about the people in your life – do you know someone who is going through cancer treatment?  Do you know a survivor? Do you know the pain and struggle of a cancer diagnosis and treatment firsthand?

There are many rides, runs, walks, and charity events raising money to fight cancer as well as innumerable other diseases. The Pan-Mass Challenge, which I will again ride in August, is raising money so that cancer will be cured. 100% of your donation will go directly to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s unrestricted funding. In this day and age where research funding is under attack, these funds are crucial. You can learn more about how the Dana-Farber uses these funds here.  I hope that in honor of my birthday and in honor and memory of those that you know that have battled cancer, you will make a donation today. It will save lives. It will move us one day closer to the end of cancer.

Thank you!

Donate here: http://www2.pmc.org/profile/AS0171

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Final Training Ride for #PMC2015

HAY! My training partner, Forza-G teammate, and friend Mark and I on training ride in Baltimore County (July 2015)
HAY! My training partner, Forza-G teammate, and friend Mark and I on training ride in Baltimore County (July 2015)

This morning, I completed my final training ride for this year’s Pan Mass Challenge. I didn’t take a selfie (this photo was taken last weekend). I just rode and thought about the people who have shared their cancer connection with me. It’s hard to ride with the sun rising in your eyes that are full of tears. Frankly, you do get used to it.

I set some goals at the beginning of the year – to be a more impactful advocate for cancer survivors, to be a better fundraiser for the PMC, to be a more engaged teammate to Team Forza-G, and to train my tail off. If I can do these things as well as my training has gone, I can rest well. I have already ridden more miles this year than any other year and this month, I have ridden more miles than I have in any other month of my life. After 1,331 miles and an estimated 82,000 feet of vertical climbing, I am officially done training and ready for the PMC.

My focus is now on enjoying my 3-day ride across Massachusetts with my 55 Forza-G teammates and our families, the 5,500 plus riders, the 3,000 plus volunteers, with all of the well-wishers along the route, and without a doubt, with my father-in-law Norm, who will be riding in his first PMC this weekend!

Special thanks to my training partner and teammate Mark D’Agostino for sharing many laughs along the roads of Maryland and Pennsylvania with me throughout the winter, spring, and summer.

Now it is my time to ask you. Will you push on with me? What are you willing to donate today to help end cancer and to see an end to the pain, suffering, and sadness that this insipid disease causes?   What if it was the life of a loved one, a friend, or a college roommate? What if it was your child? What if it was you?

We are getting closer… every day

I believe that cancer is about to be defeated and I’m doing my part. Please join my effort to find the cures that will wipe out cancer from our world: donate today: http://give.pmc.org/as0171

Here’s a 30 second video showing the results that are being achieved at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute with the money that is being raised. Learn about the research breakthroughs, clinical leadership, and ongoing mission of DFCI.

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…..

Where The Money Goes

I am pleased to share this video with all of my donors which explains “Where The Money Goes” when you donate to my PMC ride. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute President and CEO, Edward Benz Jr., MD, explains the impact of Pan Mass Challenge donations on Dana-Farber’s mission of advancing cancer research and improving patient care. While I have always known that PMC’s support to Dana-Farber is critical to their mission, it is extremely enlightening to hear Dr. Ed Benz highlight specific advances that have been achieved because our collective efforts and contributions.

As you watch this video, I’m sure you will appreciate the importance of the donations you have made. Thank you for your continued support!

If you’d like to make a donation today to help the Dana-Farber continue to fulfill its mission, you can – please visit pmc.org/as0171.

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)

2015: Pushing On

[Note: On the occasion of today being World Cancer Day, I finally sat down to write my annual appeal that lives on my PMC donation page and I am sharing it here for your reading pleasure]


On August 1st, along with more than 5,000 fellow cyclists, buoyed by an army of thousands of volunteers, I will begin my 9th PMC. I have begun to think that as each year goes by, my passion for this event and for its noble mission – to raise money that will lead to finding cures for cancer – has become more obsessive.  Hardly a day goes by that I don’t wear some PMC swag, or train for the ride, or think about a new fundraising idea.

Often my PMC thoughts are triggered by reminders of loved ones, family, friends, and friends of friends, who have faced cancer personally. If you know me, then you likely know that I am a 2-time cancer survivor.  These reminders have become nearly omni-present, for two separate reasons. The first is the wonderful one – that more and more, these loved ones are facing cancer and beating it. These people are Living Proof and I share an instant connection with them. The second reason that these reminders are more frequent are the still-to-common losses and new challenging diagnoses that have little or no treatment options. Both sets of reminders have a unique way of motivating me – to continue to train, to continue to ride, and to continue raising more money.
Why I Ride the Pan-Mass Challenge: This is my view from my trainer in the basement. On November 4, 2014, I began my training for #PMC2015. Each session, I'll add a new name. First name this year - my dad, who is going through chemotherapy now for pancreatic cancer #dadchemo  #endcancer
Why I Ride the Pan-Mass Challenge: This is my view from my trainer in the basement. On November 4, 2014, I began my training for #PMC2015. Each session, I’ll add a new name. First name this year – my dad, who is going through chemotherapy now for pancreatic cancer #dadchemo #endcancer

So, here’s the ask – have you been touched by cancer? On my blog, you’ll see my “Why I Ride” board, on which I add a name of a family member, a friend, or an acquaintance who has faced cancer before each of my training sessions. During my training sessions this winter, this board stares back at me while I pedal on my trainer – a constant reminder of why I am on my bike, in the basement, for the 4th straight day. And I keep Pushing On.

Now it is my time to ask you. Will you push on with me? What are you willing to donate today to help end cancer and to see an end to the pain, suffering, and sadness that this insipid disease causes?   What if it was the life of a loved one, a friend, or a college roommate? What if it was your child? What if it was you?
Make a donation and save lives. It is that simple. Right now, you have a chance to save lives.