Friday, August 31, 2012
The holiday weekend is here and with an early release from work I have some time to try and catch you all up on my activities of the past few weeks.
As you’ll remember this new chemo protocol started with round 1 back in early July while we were also doing radiation treatments. That combo made things a bit interesting with my blood counts but since then the post-treatment neulasta injections have been doing their job and my blood counts have been stable. The biggest challenge with chemo is actually rolling around now since the school year is starting next week and Amy won’t be in a position to accompany me for 3 straight days of treatment. Amy will continue to join me on the first day of each treatment but the remaining two days we'll be enlisting the help of family and friends. We look to be OK for September 18-20 but will consider all offers as we go into October. This will be new for me and could be fun as we spread the chemo fun around. Ha!
The weekend before Livestrong there was an informal 35th high school reunion that was hosted at the Jersey shore by one of my Union High School friends in the Class of 1977. As with the event he also held last year it was a blast. As I’ve said before on this blog one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through my saga is the incredible boost I get from the kind words of friends new and old. People came up to me one by one, some that I haven’t seen in literally 35 years, and simply said it was a very moving day. Many thanks to my Union High School classmates. Especially to Joe Falgares and his wife Maddalena for being such generous and gracious hosts.
Ahhh yes, Livestrong. The weekend that never disappoints.
Heading into the Livestrong weekend of August 18-19 I literally had no clue whether I was going to walk, ride, or just sit during the weekend events. I really had plenty of aches and pains, lack of physical condition to be cycling on hills, and miscellaneous other unpredictable chemo side effects. But as some have seen in the pictures posted on Facebook, this is not an event that I can easily take a pass on. Especially not after what the months of May-July had given me. This was my opportunity to get on my bike and tell cancer where the hell it could go. And so that’s what I did.
I made sure that I was hydrated, that I had eaten enough to support me through the short 20-mile route, and I took some precautionary meds pre-ride. I knew that my Mentschen posse of around 10 would help me through and let me tell you the stars aligned to make this one of the best rides I’ve ever been on. I conquered several decent hills WITHOUT WALKING (See the pic here as I pass others that DID walk up hills. Of course with my personal motivator Mark Cheben!) and I generally felt terrific. It all culminated with a dramatic finish as I crossed the finish line on the right to pick-up my survivor’s rose and my posse rode in formation on the left as my escort. Yep, you got it… I kinda lost it. I hope the ride photographers got some good shots of our finish.
And the donations for Livestrong continue to trickle in. It looked for a while like we might take some team honors but a few teams came out of nowhere for the top few spots. But the Mentschen have done well and when corporate matching gifts settle in we could wind up in the #4 spot at approximately $34,000. Meanwhile, my fundraising was a new personal record for a single event at $6,685 (still waiting for a match). That puts the Mentschen 5-year total over $170,000. We’re well positioned to blow through the $200,000 mark next year!
One more time…. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all that donated so generously. It’s important that we keep this support going because the Lance Armstrong Foundation is unique and very productive in the work it does in various aspects of cancer survivorship, advocacy, and support for research.