As I understand it, some Gleevec research was funded in part by the LLS. I wanted to meet the people that raise the money and say thank you in a small way. Bananas, pretzels, Gatorade and water are a very small way. I also thought it might be nice for the Team In Training participants to meet someone who is directly affected by their efforts.
Wendy and I arrived at Los Gatos High School a little early and hung around the track watching the high school marching band practice. I'd brought an ice chest full of water and Gatorade along with some bananas and pretzels for the athletes. We set up two chairs, laid out our goods and watched the participants circle the track for the workout.
Leu (Cancer Dog) was a huge hit. If you ever want to make friends or meet people, buy a cute and friendly dog.
During the practice we talked extensively with Becky (the South Bay Run Team coordinator) and several of the mentors, captains and participants. Apparently there are over 600 participants in the Silicon Valley Chapter Team in Training alone. For some people this was their first Team In Training experience, others had been doing it for years.
We met one woman whose daughter was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at 14 months. She is currently in remission. Her mother raises funds and runs in her honor each year. Another gentlemen was diagnosed with Lymphoma 5 years ago. He has had several brain surgeries and had to learn to walk and speak all over again due his treatment. He doesn't remember over 2 years due to the surgeries and radiation. It puts a little perspective on things to speak with others who are walking such a hard path with their cancer.
We liked it so much we went back this morning to hand out water along the running trail and cheer the athletes on.
This is my message to Team In Training athletes and organizers:
- You raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
- This money goes into research for drugs like Gleevec.
- This means Gleevec is available to me.
- This means my life expectancy is more than the 4-5 years it would have been had I been diagnosed 10 years ago.
- Gleevec also means I don't need to immediately undergo a Stem Cell Transplant.
- This means I don't need to spend months in the hospital for a procedure that kills 25% of the people that undergo it.
- This means I get to stay home with my wife, keep my job and (as soon as the Gleevec side effects die down) get on with my life.