The date is February 10th, 2012. My uncle Gordon has been in the hospital for a few days, not feeling well. His platelet counts are down and he has been treated for pancreatitis. After a bone marrow biopsy, the results are in. He has tested positive for acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
February 12th, 2012. I start putting feelers out with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) to see how to get involved with raising money for blood cancer research. I am still too grumpy and upset with Gordon’s recent diagnosis to follow through.
February 13th – March 15th, 2012. The family bands together and begins to put into action the orange campaign. Orange wristbands, orange quilt squares, orange socks. Anything to remind us that we are helping our beloved family member to overcome this dreaded disease and to help him smile with the color he dislikes so much.
A blog is set up to follow Gordon’s progress. Friends and family stay with Gordon at the hospital day and night as he struggles with chemotherapy, biopsies, visits to the ICU, feeding tubes, and the many other day to day ups and downs that come with blood cancer.
Gordon has his good days and his bad days. Some days I am full of hope and others I am not sure if he will make it.
One day I read the LLS website to become more informed about AML and blood cancers in general. The statistics are staggering. We have come a long way. But not far enough. About 40% of those diagnosed with AML as an adult make it past the 5 year mark. Some blood cancers have better survival rates. Some are worse. Every four minutes someone new is diagnosed with blood cancer. Every ten minutes someone dies.
40%. That’s the number that my uncle has been given. That’s it. It’s disheartening. It’s depressing. That number also makes me want to do something about it. To change it. To make it better.
I really start thinking about getting involved. I ask some of my friends if they would support me if I do decide to move forward. I get some “yes”es. That’s enough to get the wheels really turning.
March 16th, 2012. I wake up to get ready for work and have a voice mail on my phone. It’s Mom. “Kristy, I am leaving for Utah. Gordon isn’t doing very well. They don’t expect him to make it. Call me back.”
It takes a moment for those words to set in. I think to myself, He was doing so well! This can’t be happening! He was supposed to be okay! And then I start to cry.
I call Mom, tell my husband I am leaving and flee to Utah. We haven’t even gotten out of Boise when we get a text message. “He’s gone.”
After a very long weekend surrounded by friends and family, filled with tears and memories, it is time to go home. So with heavy hearts we each go our separate ways.
March 22nd, 2012. It is time. The time for planning and thinking has past. It is time to start doing. I take that first step into the unknown and do something that I had previously decided was impossible for me to do.
I realize now that nothing worth achieving is impossible.
I sign up for Team in Training (TNT), the LLS marathon training program, to be in their City of Trees Marathon here in Boise on October 14th, 2012. TNT has a dual purpose of training for endurance sports and raising money for cancer research.
I do this so that I can become healthier. But that’s not even half of it. I do this for every girl who wakes up one day feeling sick only to find out she has blood cancer and has to live for years struggling with the disease. I do this for every boy who has to watch his dad suffer through intense treatments only to succumb mere weeks later. I do this for the supporters, for the survivors, the sufferers, but mostly, I do this for those that blood cancer has left in its destructive wake. I do this so that one day we may find a cure for blood cancer and I can say that I did everything I could to help wipe it out.
March 31st, 2012. Which brings us to today. Today I ask each of you to help me. I have a webpage set up for donations. These donations help fund research for new medications that not only help blood cancer patients, they help all cancers. Donations also help improve the quality of life of the patients and their families.
You can donate online here: http://pages.teamintraining.org/oswim/trees12/kristygriffard
You can learn more about LLS here: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® - Official Website
You can learn more about TNT here: Team In Training - Together We Train to Beat Cancer
Donate as much or as little as you like. Every little bit helps and is 100% tax deductible. My goal is to raise $2000.
I will be updating my blog, my facebook page and my TNT page to show my progress both in my fundraising efforts and in my training efforts.
26 miles? Am I crazy? Probably. But it’s a cause that I can put my heart and sole into. And right now, I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.