Saturday, April 24, 2021

Interesting Week


As the saying goes…”Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them makes life meaningful.” (Joshua Marine).   By this definition it was truly an interesting week as I strove to also make it meaningful.

To recap, the Marathon Challenge was to run/jog 26.2 miles over 4 days in under 5 hours total time.   My strategy was to run a longer run on the first day, a shorter run on day two, give the old bones a rest on day 3 and then run the remaining miles on day four.  

Day one the weather is chilly but clear, a good day for a long run.   The target is to go at least 10 miles but not to wear the legs down knowing I have to get up the next day and run again.   While in the past that might not have been such a big deal, the legs these days have a mind of their own and demand more recovery time.   At some point it’s not unusual for them to just declare “enough” and cramp up.    When the legs lock up it’s like watching the tin man trying to run after a rain storm.      The first few miles were OK but as the miles went by the legs got stiffer making the last few miles a tough slog.  

Day two dawns chilly and over cast but the rain is holding off.   On a typical day it takes me a couple of miles till the legs warm up and I don’t feel like the joints are filled with cement and someone has shrunk my lungs.   Today I’m stiffer than normal and a bit sore from the day before.  One of the challenges of the area where I live is that it is very hilly.   When the legs are stiff and tired hills are a literally a real pain.  While the uphills are challenging for the lungs and quads, the pounding on the downhills are can be like someone driving a nail into your thighs.    The strategy for the day, go extra slow and keep the hills to a minimum.   It worked.

Day three is only significant in that I had to go in for a colonoscopy.  Just what you want on your rest day.  The good news, everything is fine and I slept really well during the procedure.

Day four dawns windy and with occasional sprinkles.   Feeling better after a day of rest and while stiff starting out, I gradually loosen up.   At the end I was tired but able to push through the last few miles at a slow but steady pace.  Mentally it’s so much easier to keep going when you can see the finish line.

So, 4 days, 26.2 miles and total time around 4 ½ hours.    It’s not going to set any record books on fire but definitely a step up from where I was last year (7 days and 5 ½ hours) and two years ago when I wasn’t able to run more than 100 yards.   It will be interesting to see where we are this time next year.  Doctors say it is unlikely I will regain what I had before the chemo/transplant but I don’t think we have found my limit just yet.

Thanks for all the support, words of encouragement and donations to Help in the Nick of Time.   I don’t have the words to tell you how much it means to me.   Your support feeds my motivation to keep going, keeps good memories of Nick alive, and it truly has a huge impact on all the cancer lives we are able to touch with our programs.

Stay well and safe!

Friday, April 16, 2021

Focus on Distraction

I swear my dog has ADHD (Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder).   The three-year-old pug rushes from one activity to the next with extreme enthusiasm and frantic intensity often with the annoying goal of getting everyone else to participate.     Tucker’s idea of a good time is to wait for when I’m focused on some activity like paying bills or house maintenance and then to start bringing me his toys and pushing them against my leg to play.   If I don’t engage, he goes and gets another, and another, and another until the house is a minefield of dog toys.   If I do engage, he plays for 30 seconds and then loses interest and wanders off to terrorize his sister or get into some kind of other trouble.   He’ll be back in a few minutes to start all over again.

If I could read his mind, I’m sure it would sound something like….”Play time, I’ll bring him a toy.   Here’s a toy, let’s play.  Not that toy?  OK, I’ll get another.  Oh, there’s my sister, I’ll go bite her tail.   I need a drink.   What’s that outside?  Another dog walking by, I’ll bark a warning to keep moving.   Is it food time? Check the bowl.   Hey, there’s a toy.   Play time…..

My life these days seems to be full of distractions and interruptions.   There’s likely no more than I was use to in the past it just seems I’m more responsive to them these days.   Part of it is the concern that if I don’t respond to this issue right now I’ll forget about it.   Definitely an age thing.   My feeble attempts to multitask only make things worse.   And don't even get me started on the impact of the internet and email.  The other day I spent an hour writing two checks not because it took that long to write them (not that senile yet) but because I kept thinking of issues related to the bills that I needed to take care of and was afraid I would forget if I didn’t handle them right now.

Distractions can be blessing when you are running long distance.   Anything to keep the mind focused off how tired you are, how far you still have to go, or that nagging little pain in your left hamstring.    Some people run with music as a motivator and distraction while others listen to podcasts or audio books.   I find the crowds during a race are also good distractions and motivators.    In the past I would often use the time on the road to work on business or family problems.   The challenge these days is running takes a lot more effort and focus.  Since the transplant I’ve had a problem with a “lazy” left leg (likely the result of micro-strokes) that makes my stride and balance a bit awkward.   Where in the past I may have been able to run on autopilot letting my mind wander, these days it takes constant attention to form and effort.   I really could use some distractions to focus on.

This weekend (traditionally Boston Marathon weekend) is the start of my Marathon Challenge (the goal is 26.2 miles over 4 days in under 5 hours total time).   It’s a step up from last year’s goal (26.2 miles over 7 days in under 6 hours) although a long way from the last Boston Marathon I ran 4 years ago.   No complaints though, just could use a few more distractions during the upcoming miles.   Maybe I should take some lessons from Tucker.

If you think of it, send along some good vibes over the next few days.  I’ll provide an update on the effort when I’m done.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

An Angel gets his Wings

 


Over the course of my 50 years of running I’ve met hundreds of people who have turned their running into a way to help others.   It was not unusual before the pandemic to be asked by friends or families to sponsor their efforts in a run and even during the pandemic some people were raising funds participating in virtual races.   

Of all the runners I’ve met, four stand out as extra special, true angels.   One of those angels, Dick Hoyt, passed away this week.   Dick’s son Rick was born in 1962 with cerebral palsy and was quadriplegic.    At the age of 10, Rick was given a specialized computer that enabled him to communicate with the rest of the family.  An avid sports fan, in 1977 he asked his dad if he would push him in his wheelchair in a local 5-mile race.   Thus began a journey that spanned more than 1000 races including numerous Boston Marathons and even the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon (2.4-mile ocean swim, 127-mile bike and a full 26.2-mile marathon run).  In the swim Dick actually pulled Rick in a rubber dinghy behind him.    During that time Dick started a foundation, Team Hoyt, to foster athletics for disabled people.  I remember the first time I saw Dick pushing Rick in the Boston Marathon.   I caught up to them as Dick was pushing Rick up Heartbreak Hill.   I’m puffing my way up the hill thinking this guy is an animal pushing a wheelchair with a full-grown man up a steep hill 19 miles into a marathon and he is just chugging along.   As I passed them, I wished them well and said I’d see them at the finish.   It wasn’t too long after they went whizzing by me on the downhill.    As inspired and impressed as I was by his physical ability, it was the love of his son and willingness to help others that affected me most.  He will be missed but this angel now has his wings.

This year’s Boston Marathon was moved from April to October but in 2022 it will go back to April.   Registration opened this week for runners meeting the qualifying times from a previous marathon in the last 2 years.  The field is being restricted this year to only 20,000 runners so it will be very competitive to get in.    In addition, for the first time this year they will have a Virtual Boston Marathon.  No qualifying time is necessary and they will accept the first 70,000 runners to apply.   You have the option to run your marathon anytime between Oct. 8-11th and I assume they will require one of the running apps be used as proof of completion and time.  In exchange for the entrance fee, you get a Boston Marathon completion medal, a marathon shirt and some running goodies. 

The Boston Marathon, arguably the most competitive marathon in the world, normally raises more the $30 Million a year for charities.  They do this by granting 2500-3000 runners who otherwise would not run fast enough to qualify for entry, the opportunity to stand on the starting line with world’s most elite runners and earn a coveted Boston Marathon completion metal.   Current fund-raising minimums for these runners start at $5000 and can be as high as $10,000.   With the virtual marathon offering people the option to get a medal without raising funds it will be interesting to see how it affects the charities.

As for me, I’m sticking to April for my Marathon Challenge.   You may recall last year we targeted to do the 26.2 miles in 5 days in a total combined time of under 6 hours.   This year we have upped the challenge to 26.2 miles in 4 days in under 5 hours.   To put this in perspective, the last time I ran the Boston Marathon in 2017 I completed it in one afternoon in 4 hours 5 minutes. 

Thanks to all who have supported me in my road back.   It’s truly a journey with no end date or goal but with your continued support I’ll keep plodding, blogging and supporting Pediatric Cancer programs.  More on the challenge next blog.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Winter Running - Slip Sliding Away

 


I often wonder what people think as they pass me on a cold winter morning.    I know what a few of them think because they yell it out the window as they drive by.  Most times it’s not complementary.     Running regularly takes a certain amount of commitment and fortitude.  Running in winter needs that plus a certain a degree of mental handicap.    So on a particularly slushy morning when a passing motorist yells “Crazy SOB”, I’m reticent to disagree with them.   They’re probably just jealous they can’t be out there with me.

The range of weather really defines winter running.   There’s cold, cold with wind, cold with rain, cold with wind and rain, cold with wind and snow….you get the picture.  Running in rain is manageable, snow is trouble, slush is worst, and Ice is the enemy.    Wind makes them all nastier.   Last winter was fairly mild with no snow and only a handful of really cold days.  This year Mother Nature is making up for it with 40 inches of snow in the last two weeks.  

Winter running does have its benefits.   You don’t sweat as much, you don’t suck in bugs panting up a hill, fewer dogs out to chase you, and you get to wear wooly hats that look like a racoon has taken up residence on your head.   But it’s not all lollipops and ice cream.   Here’s a few things I’ve learn over the years, usually the hard way. 

-         Icicles can form in the strangest places.   On your mustache and eye brows, on your hair, and off your hat and gloves.  

-         When it gets below 20 degrees, I have to double up on everything.  Two shirts, two pairs of socks, two pair gloves and running tights with wind pants over them.  Only one hat though.   It’s a bit of a miracle I can even move after I’m dressed.

-         Tights are never to be worn without wind pants over them.   My neighbors are not ready for the sight of "Dave in Tights".

-         Always bring a hanky.  The cold makes your nose run and an icicle hanging from your nose is just nasty.

-         Getting splashed by passing cars is a given in the rain.  When it snows the streets get narrower making dodging the spray from cars that much tougher.  I not as agile dodging the slush waves as I use to be.  There’s nothing worse than being miles from home and caked in ice from your knee down.

-         Running mornings when it’s dark can be a form of Russian Roulette.   Even with a headlamp it’s hard to pick out the icy patches.  It’s not unusual to see me skating around a corner, arms flailing and feet doing unnatural acts.  It supplies great entertainment for the school kids waiting at the bus stop.

I suspect some of you are thinking, “why would anyone voluntarily do this”.     I think we’ve established in the past that when it comes to running, I may be a few beers short of a six pack.    There are some days, when even the dogs don’t want to go out, I need an extra cup of caffeine and kick in the butt to get out the door.  But the reality is there are a lot more “nice” days than bad, and on the good days there something special about starting your day getting a bit of exercise, being outside and watching the sun come up.    Part of getting out is remembering that only a few years ago I had to spend most of a winter unable to even leave the hospital floor.    I often think about the kids with cancer going through the same isolation, an isolation we’ve certainly gotten a small taste of in the last year.    Finding ways to bring them and their families a bit of joy is the goal of both my running and the efforts of Help in the Nick of Time.    So, the next time you are hunkered down on a particularly nasty winter day, think of me and be glad that my form of insanity has passed you by.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Getting old ain't for the faint of heart


The wisdom of Anthony Hopkins, I can testify that truer words were never spoken.   It’s not so much that it’s a surprise that getting old presents challenges it’s the unexpected nature of where those challenges manifest themselves and the volume that seem to happen all at once.    I think the difficulties of getting old are like having your first child.   No matter how much you hear about it in advance, you have to go through it to really appreciate the challenges

Take my running for instance.   I’ve been running off and on for 50 years and whenever life got in the way and I took a break for a while I could comfortably return to a reasonable performance in a matter of months.     There have been some years, even in my 50’s where I would go from no running to running the Boston Marathon in 4 months.     Even after my first round of chemo and while still fighting Leukemia I was able to bounce back to run Boston in only nine months.    Fast forward to today, three years after my stem cell transplant, and running is a whole different experience.

A number of years ago I mentioned in a blog that anyone could run a marathon, it was just a matter of having the discipline to train for it.  Boy was I wrong.    As natural as running is, to do it right and not get injured requires a combination of coordination and strength that I find sorely lacking in my old age.    I was thinking about this as I was out for a morning waddle that serves for my runs these days.    I accept that as I’ve gotten older that it takes longer to warm up the old muscles and joints so I’m religious about going through a warm up routine before hitting the roads.   But no amount of pre-jog efforts seems to prevents the body from sounding like you just poured milk on a bowl of Rice Krispies (snap, crackle, pop).     The fact that it’s below freezing and I’m bundled up like the kid in the movie Christmas Story doesn’t help the situation.    Those first few miles are so slow and pathetic looking that the dogs in the neighborhood don’t even bother chasing me, not enough of a challenge.    Don’t even get me started on hills.  I’m breathing so heavy in the cold air the giant puffs of steam make me look and sound like a steam engine. 

Clearly age has a lot to do with the how much more effort it takes these days.    I find myself more sensitive to the cold, I don’t see as well in the dark, old injuries come back to haunt me with a vengeance and I just don’t have the strength I use to have.   But I also know that I lost a lot dealing with cancer and still today three years later I struggle to get back to where I was.  I think about all the children who have to deal with cancer and the aftermath so early in their lives and how they need encouragement to keep fighting.   There’s a lot of parallels between cancer and old age, their both not for the faint of heart.

And so it is that I’m taking on the marathon challenge again this year to support those kids fighting cancer through Help in the Nick of Time.   You may remember that last year they moved the Boston Marathon from April to the fall to avoid the pandemic.   The marathon was finally cancelled all together.   Given the current state of the pandemic this April’s Boston Marathon has again been moved to the fall but I’m going ahead with my marathon challenge in April.    Last year I set the goal of jogging a marathon over 7 days in under 6 hours.   This year I’m upping the ante and shooting for the 26.2 miles in 5 days and under 5 hours.   Far cry from 2017 when I ran the Boston Marathon in a little over 4 hours but progress over last year.   With your help I’ll make both my Help in the Nick of Time and marathon challenge goals.  

Kicking old ages’ butt until next time.

 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

If I could save time in a Bottle


For Christmas this year my children gave my wife and I a year’s subscription to StoryWorth.    It’s a gift that fits the 2020 model of being trapped at home looking for things to do besides futile attempts to make sour dough bread.  I hoping it’s not clairvoyant on their part for 2021.    

The basis of the gift is the gifter (my children) sends a weekly question to the giftee (me) in an attempt to record insightful information about my past life.   The resulting collection of memories recorded by the giftee will be compiled into a book at the end of the year.    Pretty neat idea other than the weekly homework assignment.  Part of me thinks this is payback for all the years of chasing them to do their school work.

The exercise got me thinking about what it would be like to relive special days out of my childhood?   Would they be as joyous and carefree as I remember them or have I rewritten them in my memory to be that way.  Having reached the age of early senility my memory may be a questionable facsimile of reality.

 One place where I appear to have altered reality is around my memory of what running was like before LBL (Life Before Leukemia).    I have memories of rolling out of bed for a morning run, lacing up my shoes and blissfully hitting the streets without a moments thought to warming up.   Today’s reality involves crawling out of bed, cups of caffeine, a half hour of stretching, multiple layers of clothes, and at least a mile of creaky joints/muscles till I warm up.  After that the creaky noise level is reduced to the equivalent of a car needing replacement shocks.

I realized I can make good use of my time while out jogging to organize my thoughts to respond to Storyworth questions, a task that faces two challenges.  The first is the afore mentioned memory reliability and the second is trying to split my mental capacity between thinking and jogging.  You might think “no big deal, jogging doesn’t require much brain power, it’s pretty much automatic, like breathing”.    In a previous life, I would have agreed  but in the category of “the gifts that keep on giving”, chemo and steroids have presented me with balance and coordination challenges that make jogging require a bit more focus these days.   As a result, letting my mind wander can cause my jogging to wander (embarrassingly into traffic or people’s yards).    It’s also a constant vigil against potholes, curbs, and sidewalk cracks which are conspiring to cause rather dramatic face-plants.     At this point a reasonable person might ask “Why do you bother to continue to try to run?”  Fair question that deserves a thoughtful answer.    Truth is, I don’t have one.   Oh, I can come up with answers like it’s how I raise funds for Help in the Nick of Time/pediatric cancer programs or to keep my sanity during the infinitely boring pandemic or I’m better at it than making sour dough bread.  

 While these are all partially true, the real reason is, I hate what Leukemia treatment has taken away from me and I’m determined to take back as much as I can.  I can’t do anything about the loss of taste and smell, loss of balance or about the dry eyes but I can fight to get my strength back enough to run.    It’s clear now that I will never get back to where I was or even ever run a marathon again but I’m way ahead of where I was when I left the hospital and this year’s multi-day marathon challenge will hopefully be a step up (pun intended) from last year.  

More on that challenge, some of the programs we have funded this year through Help in the Nick of Time, and training during the pandemic in the coming blogs.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Keeping Perspective


Perspective – INSPIRED LIVING with JENNIFER MOJICAI saw a YouTube video the other day, creatively put together by Julie Nolke, of her January 2020 self getting a visit from her April 2020 self.   Imagine for a minute that you could have that conversation with yourself but the future version was allowed to give advice but not allowed to say what is currently going on.   Pretty interesting and funny video.

Given what we know today, our perspective on daily life…. our finances, jobs and health have all been radically upended.   That was driven home to me in spades this week as I took on the 7-day Marathon Challenge.     A year ago, I set a goal of completing the effort in less than 8 hours.  At that time, after of year of working on getting back to running, I had only worked my way up to jogging a quarter to half mile before I had to stop and walk a while.   Hills were my nemesis, getting me breathing like an old steam engine and making so much noise people would stop to ask if I was all right.   One older woman walking her dog would cross the street when she saw me coming.  She said I scared her dog.   I think I actually scared her more.   I had pretty much resigned myself to this being the best I could achieve and running again was a dream too far.  If not for the fund raising for Help in the Nick of Time, I likely would have walked away from the effort.

Fast forward a year and life looks quite a bit different.    Delivery of groceries is no longer a luxury, wearing a mask and gloves is no longer just for bank robbers, eating out is now eating in, and toilet paper has become as hard to locate as big foot (TP is so valuable that I heard one person had tipped his food delivery person with it).     At an age when they grow leaps and bounds, I haven’t been able to spend time with my grandchildren in person in 3 months.   A year ago I couldn’t imagine such a scenario.    And of course, the most unbelievable event, the Boston Marathon was delayed for the first time in its 124-year history (actually it was replaced with a military marathon relay one year during WWI).   

Despite the marathon delay I decided to go ahead with my 7 Day Marathon Challenge in the week leading up to the original planned date.   Unlike last year I had set the bar a bit higher, planning to complete the challenge in under 6 hours (a goal that would have looked impossible a year ago).   I’m happy to say that as of this morning I was able to achieve that goal.   Unlike last year when I was jogging and walking, this year I was able to jog the entire distance in increments of 4.5-5.5 miles.    If my 2020 person had appeared to my April 2019 person and told him a year from now this was possible, the reaction would have been total disbelief.  Probably not much different than if someone told me then that the country/world would be shut-down this month. 
   
When I am in the middle of challenging times, I find it hard to keep a long-term perspective.   In our fast food, immediate satisfaction, instant google answers to everything, being patient and keeping perspective can be difficult.    My walking/jogging/running is a great reminder for me that there will be good days and bad days and keeping a broader perspective, a longer-term view so to speak, can keep me from stressing out about where I am today. 

Who knows where I’ll be when next year’s marathon challenge rolls around, and I’ve given up on trying to predict if I’ll ever achieve more than just jogging a few miles but those are worries for another day.   Right now, my 2021 self has an optimistic perspective on where life will be a year from now.

Thanks to all of you who supported me through this last year.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

My Game, My Rules!


My Game & My Rules - YouTubeThis is a popular saying I first heard from Dave McGillivray, the well-known elite endurance athlete who is also the race director for the Boston Marathon.  In fact, Dave has not only been the race director for 32 years but he has run it for 47 years IN A ROW. This includes last year’s marathon only 6 months after a triple bypass.   Dave used to be neighbor when I lived in Massachusetts and I would see him often on the roads or at races that his race management company directed.   Every year on his birthday Dave would run his age in miles.   Last I heard he was planning on taking on the challenge when he turned 65.   My Game, My Rules.

I’ve adopted this philosophy when I put together our 7 Day Marathon Challenge leading up to the 2020 Boston Marathon.     As I mentioned last blog, with the Covid situation the Boston Marathon has been moved to September and I planned to move my Marathon Challenge to match.   Well, as I am prone to do these days, I’ve changed my mind and plan to go ahead with the challenge this week.   My Game, My Rules.

It’s not that I’m a gluten for punishment, (although my wife may argue the issue), or that I’m bored out of my gourd being locked down (that’s definitely contributing to my already questionable sanity).    The reality is I’ve been thinking a lot about how the lock down is affecting the children stuck in the hospital fighting cancer.    Our limited lock down, isolating us from our friends and family is just a small sample of what these children are already facing as they fight cancer.     Given their compromised immune systems their restrictions are even more stringent.   I can speak from experience that when you are fighting the disease for an extended period of time in the hospital, the support of friends and family is crucial. 
 
So, I owe all the people who have supported Help in the Nick of Time a big Thank You for what you have done to help.   Your contributions have allowed us to supply laptops and tablets to pediatric cancer wards to keep the children connected to family, friends and the outside world.   In addition, we have been able to send boxes of toys and activities to help them pass the time and distract them from the drudgery and pain of treatment.  

It’s now my turn to do my part.  I promised to do a marathon over 7 days in under 6 hours and starting tomorrow we will be kicking it off.   While not as impressive as Dave McGillivray’s efforts last April, and a far cry from running the Boston Marathon, it is a major step forward from the 8 hour challenge I set this time last year.    If nothing else it will keep me busy and get me out of the house (which will contribute to my wife’s sanity). 

I will drop a quick update at the end of the week.  

Stay safe!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Panic and Soldier On


Image result for soldier onBy now we have all heard enough about the coronavirus/COVID-19 to last us a lifetime.  I for one am limiting the amount of radio, internet and TV time to keep the hype and noise to a minimum.    Given the speed of changes and misinformation it is easy to be whipsawed between what to do and not do to stay safe.

Take face masks for instance.  When I was recovering from chemo and the transplant, I was told I had to wear them to protect myself when my immune system was compromised.   Now I hear the ones I was given to wear are useless to prevent infection from a virus but useful for protecting others from getting what you have.  Great, months of thinking I was protecting myself when really I was saving others from getting sick from me.    Guess it worked, no one around me got Leukemia.

But more seriously, what is the story with the irrational panic buying?  People are doing hand to hand combat in stores over hand sanitizer while right next to the empty spots on store shelves are plenty of soap, bottled bleach, and spray bottles of Lysol.   Tito’s Vodka had to issue a press release telling people not to make hand sanitizer out of their vodka (not enough alcohol content).  They suggested using it to pass the time while quarantined.   And don’t even get me started about the rush on toilet paper.   Toilet Paper?   What are people doing as a result of the virus that requires pallets of TP?  Maybe making home grown face masks.

You have to admit if it wasn’t so serious it would actually be humorous.  The best comedians are the politicians.  In Philly this week the local politicians declared the St. Patrick’s Day parade would go on as planned but in the same newscast they warned people not to attend.    Then of course there is president Trump’s expert medical assessment that it “will go away”, “One day, it’s like a miracle it will disappear.”.    This followed shortly after by bans on incoming flights, cancellations of large public gatherings and a stock market crash. 
    
Speaking of cancellations, for only the second time in 124 years, the Boston Marathon is being postponed till September (first time was in 1918 during WW I).    Disappointing I’m sure for all the runners that put in the training through the winter and now have to face staying in shape for 5 more months.   For me it is actually helpful.   I’ve been fighting a bad cold for the last 10 days and as the case with immune system, when I get sick a number of the inflictions from the chemo and transplant come back to haunt me.  As a result, I had to curtail my training for a bit.  The extra time and the summer months will make for much more pleasant training as I try to make the marathon challenge.   It will also hopefully take us past the significant part of the COVID-19 outbreak.   As someone who falls in the high-risk category (over 60 and compromised immune system) and currently fighting a bad cold, I can use all the breaks I can get.  In the near-term Pam and I are just hunkering down.

Hunkering down reminds me of the months I spent in the hospital going through treatment.  As we all go into some form isolation over the next few months it’s good to keep in mind that this is a small taste of what many pediatric cancer patients face for months and sometimes years.    Their world isolated to one room, maybe even to a bed waiting for the next treatment.   It’s the reason Help in the Nick of Time programs focus on helping with the pain, fear and boredom that often accompanies protracted cancer treatment.     For those that support us I can’t thank you enough.

Till next time, stay safe.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

I Need Patience… and I need it RIGHT NOW!


Atheism, Religion, God is Imaginary. Family trip to enlightenment. Are we there yet? Easy Meditation, Meditation For Beginners, Mindfulness Meditation, Christian Humor, Peace On Earth, Love And Light, Family Travel, Family Vacations, In This WorldNow that I’m a grandparent and retired I find that I’m not in as much of a hurry as I use to be…except to get to the bathroom.   I don’t get annoyed as much when the Doctor or Dentist is 15 minutes late, or Pennsylvania drivers sit at red lights 5 seconds after it turns green (a guaranteed horn in Boston), or I get stuck in line in the grocery store behind the person that has to count out their exact change.    I’d like to attribute it to my mindfulness meditation but I think it’s simply age and the fact that I’m typically not in a hurry to get anywhere (other than to visit the grandchildren).    


While I’m on the topic of grandchildren and patience, I had the pleasure of babysitting my 3 year old grandson the other day.  Some people would think that it would take a lot of patience, and they would be right.   He needed to be very patient with me as I constantly forgot the names of all his Paw Patrol figures, was totally confused about the Lego characters, and couldn’t quite mold the playdough into the characters he wanted.

Actually, I have a theory that your DNA changes with chemo and you grow a new set of patience genes.  In this fast paced, fast food, “I want it now” society this could be a good thing.  At least that’s what I thought until I realized when it came to the topic of how long it was taking to recover from the chemo/stem cell transplant, the patience gene was totally missing.   Take running for example.  It’s been over 2 years since I was released from the hospital after the transplant and it’s safe to say that progress getting back to jogging/running has been far short of my expectations.     A year ago, I almost gave up on ever running again.  It was a year since I got out of the hospital and despite walking almost every day, the best I could do was jog a quarter mile before I had to stop and walk for a while.   I did the math and at this rate I’d be almost 70 years old before I could run a mile and somewhere close to 90 before I could run 5.   Even with my new patience genes, sticking with the run/walk efforts for three more years, through the cold/wet winters and hot/humid summers to get to the goal of a mile seemed as likely as the politicians getting together to address global warming.    There was one thing that kept me going for another year, the support I received for Help in the Nick of Time when the best I could do was a 7-day jog/walk marathon in 8 hours.    With that motivation, and a ton of patience, I’m happy to report I am now able to jog more than a mile without walking.    It’s what will let me achieve this year’s 7-day jog/walk in 6 hours.  Sometimes being patient and sticking it out is worth the effort.   As long as I continue to get support for helping children with cancer, I’m committed to putting one foot in front of the other and blogging about the experience.

I’ve come to terms with idea there are no more marathons in my future but I would like to be able to run 5 miles before I’m 90 (maybe even before I’m 70).    Even better is to still be able to run 5 miles when I’m 90.

Till next time…slogging and blogging away.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Ripples


Image result for ripples in waterBack in college, what seems like hundreds of years ago, my girlfriend at the time introduced me to one of her good friends.   Bad move.   Almost 50 years later the friend she introduced me to and I have been married for 44 years, had four beautiful children and now have 7 (and counting) gorgeous grandchildren.    Anyone who knows me well knows that the decision to date and marry Pam was the best decision I made in my life (and I’m not just saying that because I know she will be reading this).   Heaven knows where I would be without her.  It’s interesting how a single decision can have such wide-ranging ripple effects not only in our lives but in the lives (and even the existence) of others. 

This month it is 2 years since I escaped from the hospital after my stem cell transplant.   I’m here to write this because a gentleman in Germany decided to volunteered to be a bone marrow transplant donor and when he was called to donate for me, he accepted.  The commitment is not trivial both in time and pain.   That decision not only saved my life but has had a ripple effect on the lives of people around me.   It’s a gift I can never repay.

It’s one of the reasons I feel so passionately about how Help in the Nick of time helps pediatric cancer patients and their families.    In the last year we have driven programs that have helped many dozens of children and families deal with the difficulties of a life with cancer including computers and tablets while in the hospital, gift boxes, camp outing, and day/night out events.    I like to believe the ripple effect goes far beyond our efforts.  It’s only through the support of many of you that we have raised almost $100,000 to be able to fund these programs.   This year I would like to break through that $100K mark and with your help I know we can do it.

For my part, while I’m a long way from running a marathon this year, I will again be striving to complete a multiday marathon challenge.    You may remember last year I committed to completing 26.2 miles over the 7 days leading up to the Boston Marathon and to do it in under 8 hours.    It was far from my less than 4-hour marathons but no less difficult.   Recovery this year has had its challenges but I’m now able to mix a bit of jogging with my walking.  It’s not pretty, and certainly a long way from what anyone would call running, but I’m setting the goal to do the 26.2 miles over 7 days in less than 6 hours.    Maybe I’ll send video this year, although I’d recommend not viewing it in public as the heavy breathing may give people the wrong idea on what you are watching. 

On the leukemia front, results from the latest bone marrow biopsy came back clean (YAY).   Just wish they could test without corkscrewing a piece of bone out of my hip.   But, chances of a relapse go down each year we are in remission so I’m one happy little camper.
So here we go again…another year of marathoning and fund raising.   I believe both our efforts are sending out good ripples far beyond what we know.  I’ll keep you updated on the progress on both over the next couple of months.   If nothing else, the training updates should be entertaining.