Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thank You Team In Training

Amidst all the hubbub this week I arranged to attend a Team In Training practice session so I could hand out beverages and snacks and say thank you to the people that are raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

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:
  1. You raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
  2. This money goes into research for drugs like Gleevec.
  3. This means Gleevec is available to me.
  4. This means my life expectancy is more than the 4-5 years it would have been had I been diagnosed 10 years ago.
  5. Gleevec also means I don't need to immediately undergo a Stem Cell Transplant.
  6. This means I don't need to spend months in the hospital for a procedure that kills 25% of the people that undergo it.
  7. 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.
"Thank You" is not adequate, but thank you nonetheless.


Kelly said...

You are truly an inspiration to us Matt.

Chris said...

Matt... I was the guy who you spoke to right when you got to the track and pointed out Becky to you. Sorry we did not get a chance to talk more. This is my first season with TNT and have a feeling it won't be my last. I'm running in honor of a few folks including my brother. He has Hairy Cell Leukemia that is in remission, for a second time. I will be checking back here often to stay on top of your progress. Go Team!

Tara said...

Hi Matt,

As the TNT coordinator from Montreal, Quebec Canada. I stumbled accross your blog after a jumbled Google search. I just want to say thank-you for putting your story out into the cyber world, where people like me and find it on a cold winter day.
You are an inspiration and a reminder of why I do what I do.
Take good care and good luck.

Linz Murph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linz Murph said...

One of the Mentors from Atlanta, Ga, for the Nike Women's Marathon posted your blog on her Facebook page yesterday. Your story touched me so much b/c my Dad was apaart of that 25% that dies from Stem Cell Transplants. He had AML for 5 days before he lost his battle. Thank you for being so brave, and thank you for being so supportive of LLS and of TNT. There are a lot of people out there who don't "get" what we're doing... You just brought it back to the mission for me. I'm running my 1st Full Marathon in 10 days b/c of TNT and I will be running it in honor of you, along with running it in my Dad's memory!

Rebecca said...

I'm on Linz's TNT team and running my first half marathon ever with TNT this Sunday. While I don't have any blood cancers in my family, I've had a lot of breast, ovarian, colon, & melanoma in my family, all deadly, and also due to chromosomal abnormality: BRCA1 mutation.

Our teammate's Facebook link brought me to your blog too. I'm so happy to see that you're blogging about your disease experience--it touches a chord with me, as I'm also blogging on Blogger about my pre-disease experience with BRCA1 & my prophylactic breast removal surgery:

I've been waiting to find others blogging about personal health issues, diseases, surgeries, etc., in order to educate and buoy others along in shared rocky seas. Good for you for sharing your experience openly and honestly and being an inspiration to others with blood cancers. Thank you for reminding us why we're running and raising money. Thank you for your article only days before our big race. You are why I'm running and loving it.
Thank you Matt!
Warmest wishes,
Rebecca Byrd
Georgia chapter Nike Women's Marathon TNT participant, October 18

Michelle said...

I'm the TNT fundraising captain for the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Team. Thank you for sharing your story - the more I'm inspired by people like you the more fuel I get to thinking of new ways to fundraise. I'm a new follower and will continue to do my best in raising funds and mentoring other fundraisers for LLS. :)