Monday, August 29, 2011

LiveSTRONG recap

Distracted by earthquakes and hurricanes this past week it was easy to lose track of time for pulling together a blog post as a follow-up to the Philly LiveSTRONG extravaganza.

The LiveSTRONG event got off to a literal bang when Amy and I scrambled after work on Friday, 8/19 to get over to eastern PA and the LiveSTRONG village for packet pick-up and registration. No sooner did Amy and I check-in at our hotel, meet Anne Chen in person for the first time, and then arrive at the event venue when the skies turned black and prompted the LiveSTRONG staff to frantically shutdown for the night. Things continued to get interesting when we returned to the hotel following a team sushi dinner. The heavy rains had caused the hotel parking lot to flood and I needed to park the car at another hotel up the road where there was no threat of the car becoming a boat.

Aside from the muddy grounds on Saturday all went well for Mintz’s Mentschen participation in the walking/running events. The weather was terrific and this was capped by our own private pasta party on Saturday night where most of our team was able to attend. Sunday was an entirely different story. Many thanks to Kathy Lynch for bringing us two new Mentschen teammates for our walk team. Theresa Lizzio and Cindy Takacs are wonderful people and they both seemed to have had a great time. Ditto for Jordan Adler who was recruited by Dan Nies. Jordan did a combo walk/ride weekend and I think he’s been bitten by the LiveSTRONG bug. I look forward to having all 3 as ongoing Mentschen teammates.

Sunday, the day for all cycling events, started on the grey side and it really did look like we might skate by the rain holding off until all of our riders completed their chosen route distances. Amy and I rode the tandem with a nice sized posse of Mentschen and we completed the 23 mile route of rolling hills without having to walk a step. This was the hilliest ride we’ve ever done on the tandem and despite the physical challenge a good time was had by all. Albeit with some drizzle of rain as we rode.

Dan Nies, our only 100-mile rider, and Jim Nuccio who rode the 70-mile route weren’t quite as lucky. The skies once again turned black at around 2:30pm and opened up with torrential rain, thunder, and lightening while Dan and Jim were still on the course. Long story short is that they both finished despite the VERY scary scenario that unfolded.

Mega thanks to all that have donated so generously to our Mintz’s Mentschen LiveSTRONG efforts this year. My final fundraising total was $5,654 and our team total was $28.071. Incredible.

The event weekend was somewhat bittersweet.

  • I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with my LiveSTRONG email penpal Anne Chen who came all the way from Denmark to be with us.
  • An old Rider College friend, MaryAnn Bellesi Faraci, came to visit me on Saturday afternoon. I hadn’t seen MaryAnn since Rider 30 years ago. Incredible fun.
  • LiveSTRONG weekend is always a real lovefest that both humbles me and fills me with a year’s worth of good karma.
  • Long time cycling friend and Mintz’s Mentschen teammate Stephanie Tobler relocated to Switzerland a couple of days after LiveSTRONG. Stephanie will be spending time with her grandmother and other family in Switzerland. While she’ll be missed I’m also very proud that she’s truly living life to its fullest. Way to LiveSTRONG Steph!!

One final note on the topic of LiveSTRONG. I can't thank my good friend Dan Nies enough for what he does on behalf of Mintz's Mentschen. Dan brings the energy, coordination, coaching, custom jerseys and t-shirts, and all-around positive vibe to our team. Our team absolutely would NOT exist in its current form without Dan. Dan, I hope you know how truly grateful I am for who you are and what you do. There's a reason we're called "mentschen" and Dan is our fearless leader (not to mentschen that he's the one who coined our name and motto). Time for a definition for those that need it. Mensch: a person of integrity and honor, a particularly good person, like "a stand-up guy", a person with the qualities one would hope for in a dear friend or trusted colleague.

Tomorrow is 2011 treatment #15. Not too much to say about it other then that it’s the last that will be on a 2-week cycle. Given that it’s been taking me a little longer to fully recover from each treatment an extra week in each cycle is something that I look forward to.

Below are some pictures from the LiveSTRONG weekend.

Our amazing 2011 Mintz's Mentschen run/walk team

Our amazing 2011 Mintz's Mentschen cycling team

Amy and I cruising by on the tandem at the ride start
(thanks Anne for the great pic!!)

Jacked to the Max and riding in memory of Danny, Scott, and Jen

Thursday, August 18, 2011

LiveSTRONG live!!

For those of you that might want to look in on the festivities that take place this weekend for the Philly LiveSTRONG event it seems that you'll be able to do that from the comfort of your home. The Lance Armstrong Foundation is kicking things up with technology this year and they provided this link that is supposed to have streaming video of the Finish Line area.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Treatment continues... but that's OK

A quick update following treatment yesterday and our conversation with Dr. Richards. It came down to the decision of stopping treatment until the next scan interval or proceeding with treatment to “the best possible result”. Even though the scan results were good and the remaining lesions are very small we opted for continuing treatment and thankfully Dr. Richards was in full support for going to a 3-week treatment cycle. This next one will stay at two weeks but starting in September we’ll go to 3-weeks in between treatments. As you might imagine that’s great news as far as I’m concerned because I’ll be doing everything I can to put that 3rd week to good use. Generally I’m close to normal after about a week so this will give me some decent “normal” time in between treatments.

Fundraising by the Mintz’s Mentschen team of 23 is really on a roll! We’re up to $26,416! I’m very excited for the ride this weekend.

And as we did in February of this year we’ll also be participating in Cycle for Survival in 2012. Registration for that event will happen soon so expect to see me mentioning that event in the September timeframe. The event itself will be in February 2012 and it directly funds development of clinical trials at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Last year the event raised over $4 million. Given the recent passing of the event founder, Jennifer Goodman Linn, this will be an extremely emotional event.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Catching up.... and IT'S LIVESTRONG WEEK!!

Two weeks between posts…. A bit long, I’m sorry about that but really I’ve been a bit distracted with treatment and its side effects, a PET scan, and the build-up to the LiveSTRONG event that is this coming weekend.

Treatment #13 came and went without incident on August 2nd. The pre-treatment blood counts showed that my white blood cell count was low (2.6) but Dr. Richards said it has been low off and on and that he wasn’t concerned. The 2-week cycle went without incident.

That was closely followed by the quarterly PET/CT scan on August 8th. To make a long story short it didn’t bring the completely clean results I was hoping for. Some of the lesions that we have been watching on my liver actually DID “disappear” from the scan but there were some low-level SUV hits in a couple of other spots that translate into continued treatment. Treatment #14 will be tomorrow and Amy and I will be having a detailed conversation with Dr. Richards regarding the treatment protocol and frequency. I’m sure that we’ll be proceeding with the same 3-drug cocktail but with the SUV levels being so low I’m hoping that we can shift to a 3-week treatment interval so that I get a bit more of a breather in between treatments.

This would also help to conserve the few remaining vacation days that I have. With a bit of luck maybe I’ll get an actual day or two off before the end of the year.

Jacked to the Max!!

As I mentioned, the LiveSTRONG event is this weekend. Amy and I will be picking up Anne Chen as she arrives from Denmark late tomorrow afternoon. The Mentschen will have an international flair this year! Our weekend of fun will start this Friday night when we begin to meet at the event site in Blue Bell and a group of us will participate in a 5K walk/run on Saturday morning. The bike ride is on Sunday and for the first time our tandem will make an appearance as I ride the 20-mile route with Amy. I’ll have a posse of Mentschen with me and as always it will be a blast. Out cumulative team fundraising is now up to $24,731!! I’m sure that we will reach $25,000 before the weekend. Heartfelt thanks to you all for your generosity.

The 2011 version of our custom Mentschen jerseys is very cool (see the picture above). Hopefully the Lance Armstrong Foundation will re-instate their best jersey contest as I think we’d be a top contender to defend our 1st place finish of two years ago. Last year they didn’t have the contest.

This year I’ll be riding the LiveSTRONG event to honor the memory of dear friends that I lost to cancer recently. They are Danny Millman, Scott Winters, and Jennifer Goodman Linn.