My journey - battling lymphoma

Recently I celebrated my 46th birthday. I love celebrating birthdays! Then I participated as a co-captain for our local "Quabog" Relay For Life and the Pack 57 Rocks! Cub Scout Team. This was the time frame that I had discovered an uneasiness in my stomach and growth in my spleen and stomach. After weeks of monitoring, my husband Steve took me to the doctor who felt the lumps and ordered a CT scan. The CT scan showed a massive area, my spleen enlarged to twice its size and an additional growth lower in my stomach. Next was the localized CT guided biopsy and subsequent PET scan. The biopsy showed positive for lymphoma and most likely Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma.

This is my online journal sharing my experience through battling this cancer that has abruptly entered my life for no apparent reason. The story is documented here if you want to start from the beginning, you can check the archives on the side bar.

As a top competitive master athlete this year winning my age group at the Marine Corps Marathon and placing 3rd in the New England Trail Running Championship I have been truly excited with my results of late and am a truly driven athlete. Driven by goals.... my goal right now.... to beat this "thing"!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Dream Team: Dreaming of a Cancer Free World & DETERMINED to make a difference

The Dream Team?  

Dreaming of a cancer free world and Determined to make a difference supporting the mission of the American Cancer Society in the fight against cancer and creating a world with MORE BIRTHDAYS!!
The Fearless Foursome?  
A group of 4 that connected and had such a great time pre-race at the Boston Marathon as part of the Boston DetermiNation efforts - For Cara, Charlie & David it was  their very first Boston marathon in addition to making a difference raising the dollars to support the mission of the American Cancer Society!  Here is the story of some amazing athletes that CARE...
This past spring I ran my 5th Boston Marathon and ran it as a ACS DetermiNation runner (our Charity Runner Program).  It was my 3rd time running for DetermiNation and I had raised a little more than $1000.  The best part of running is sharing my experiences and meeting new people.  I love to meet new friends where ever I run and this was the epitome of it all for me, combining my love for running with my passion in the fight against cancer!  We were picked up in the morning by an ACS van driven by a volunteer and all piled into the van --- DP Pittman was there (I had "bumped" into him on Twitter - and we were tweeting friends meeting for the first time).  Steve dropped me off and I introduced the crew and hopped in the van headed to Hopkinton that morning.  I got to chat with Charlie -- something about his pink hair just makes you want to chat with him and get to know him ---- obviously fighting cancer for a reason!  And Cara was there too -- but it wasn't until we unloaded from the bus had the group photo and chatted some more....  The four of us clicked and I gave the tour (being the repeat "customer" at the marathon is definitely a bonus.
 We took our photo by the "It all starts here" sign in Athlete's village and did a lot of people watching as we stretched and got ready to head to the corals.  Everyone at Boston is "seeded" according to their "qualifying" times.  So we all were in different spots for the start.  OFF goes the gun and we were headed to Boston.  It was so cool as a DetermiNation runner they had people at the finish to escort us to the Park Plaza hotel.  So after finishing this clinical study blood test I had volunteered for and then finding my NUMBER ONE fan - my sweet husband Steve.... we found a volunteer and go to the after "party" support.  :)  There we got to chat with Cara & DP some more - Charlie ran way too fast and wasn't around at the finish party.  
So - we all have connected even more through Facebook and now Daily Mile.  It truly has been a Dream Team --- we call ourselves the "Fearless Foursome" and all plan to return to Boston and run for DetermiNation once again next April.  Since my cancer diagnosis these four have truly virtually been there for me - with encouraging comments and notes and cards too!  Cara & I are planning to run in costume (Bat Girl & Wonder Woman respectively -- costumes made by my dear sister!) and we are planning a get together of the crew when we are in Chicago on 10/10/10 weekend!
Photo below:   Pancake Breakfast (note i am not in this photo - we missed it.  :( ))
Here is a little piece on each of these incredible runners!   And if I get to share my story in Atlanta, I hope that they will all be there in person!
***************************                              *************************                    **********************
Cara Turano
aka: "Batgirl"
Age: 32
Home:  Atlanta, Georgia
Chicago #3157 (Elite B)
2010 Boston Marathon time:  3:18:09 / 7:34 min/mile
Marathons run to date: TBD
Marathon PR:  3:18:09  - Boston!
Favorite Running Quote: The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hello?  Could running a marathon be more about challenge and controversy?  How about doing it while on chemo?  It is not how you stack up at the start, but your ability to harness the pain and use it to your advantage.  My actual favorite running quote is a quote of my own....You say 'you can't...' and all I hear is 'try harder.'
Goal for Chicago (4th marathon?)  Support Nancy!  Run fast! Have fun!
Special note:  Cara is "pacing" me as a support running in the Chicago marathon.  Although I will deter her if I run too slow for this speed demon!  :)  I am running dressed as Wonder Woman and she will be Batgirl.  My sister Laura is making our costumes!  Such a fun, smiley, happy girl --- you totally want to hang out with her!
Why DetermiNation? 

Simply said -Mama T
Photo:  Cara's Team in Boston!
Why DetermiNation....I sawa DP Turtle on TV and I knew Mama T would be in between chemo and radiation for her Stage 4 colon cancer. She is such a super supporter of me, I wanted to do something that would honor her. She is my hero (and so are you) and I was running Boston and it was the right thing to do. Mama T and Tom missed NYC when I qualified and that was a tough day because she was recovering from surgery. Boston was a celebration of accomplishments and life! I would not have had it any other way. :)
In Boston, I raised $7500 in just over 5 weeks.  It was inspiring for me and I was honored and so was Mama T.

Favorite Marathon Memory....My absolute favorite marathon memory is post NYC last November. I had a PR by 17 minutes and had qualified for Boston without my parents there, but an AMAZING support crew of extended family. I finally found that crew outside of Central Park and called my parents. Mama T was so proud and about 6 weeks from starting her second round of chemo. Her direct quote was "Well, we missed New York, but we will see you Boston. I don't care what my treatment schedule looks like...I WILL be there." I think she hung up after about determination! We Turano's are a clan....sorry Nancy, now you get ALL of US!

Goal for Chicago....6th marathon and to cross that finish line with Nancy who is on chemo, rock my Bat Girl outfit and maybe get a victory kiss from one Charlie Johnston...
What does Charlie say about Cara?
Charlie Johnston Since meeting in Boston, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Cara as a person and a runner. Her tenacity as a marathoner and DetermiNATION fundraiser is rivaled only by her charming personality and complete devotion to her family and friends. Along with Wonder Woman (Nancy) she is truly among the greatest heroes I've ever had the honor to know.

Charlie Johnston 
aka: The Flying Pink Bandit
Age 27
Home:  Sparks, Nevada
Chicago #1577 (Elite A)
Special note:  Charlie has been running for only 3 years!
2010 Boston Marathon time:  3:05:37
7:05 min/mile
Marathons run to date:  Chicago will be his 21st marathon! 
Favorite Running Quote: "All it takes is all you got." —Marc Davis.
Why Relay?  Why Determination? 
Cancer first came crashing into my life when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, I was 10. I got started volunteering for the ACS in high school through the Relay for Life and eventually captained teams and sat on Relay committees for six years. Boston 2010 was the first time I ran for DetermiNATION. With the help of family, friends, and co-workers we raised about $1,000. 
What does Cara say about Charlie?   Cara Turano "Wow! He dyes his hair pink and both Mama T and I think he is an amazing young man. Charlie is wonderful and smart and passionate about life. I am lucky to be a part of his life."
Goal for Chicago 10/10/10:  Fast!  Flat course!  PR?  Lots of marathons this year, so ANYTHING is possible!

**************************                            **********************************                   ********
"DP" Dave Pittman - 
aka:  "The Turtle"
Age: 31
Home:  Chicago, IL
2010 Boston Marathon time: 3:31:54 - 8:05 min/mile pace
Marathons run to date: TBD
Marathon PR: – 3:28.42 – Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Oct. 11, 2009
ACS DetermiNation or Charity Runner marathons participated:  Boston 2010 and many more!

Favorite Running Quote: 
Maraton PR:  3:18:09
Why DetermiNation?  “Turtles against cancer” is a nod to the parable of the tortoise and the hare, which is a fitting analogy both for David’s running pace and for the ongoing fight against cancer. But that’s not all — “turtles” also refers to a tasty treat you can receive for supporting David. He became a DetermiNation athlete in 2003 as a way to honor his sister, who has fought off cancer since 1988. (Learn more about the story behind “Turtles Against Cancer.”) In 2004, he joined the volunteer committee that recruits, encourages and supports DetermiNation runners and triathletes throughout their training and races. Since he joined DetermiNation, he has raised more than $45,000 to help fight cancer.
Goal for Chicago 10/10/10:  Playing the stellar and much needed part of ACS DetermiNation volunteer and "Pitt Crew" for the Dream Team!   And YES there will be CAKE at the finish line!  :)  
******************************                    *************

Nancy Cook 
aka:  "Wonder Woman"
Age: 46
Home:  Belchertown, MA
Chicago #4399 (Elite B)
2010 Boston Marathon time: 3:23:17 - 7:46 min/mile
Marathons run to date: 26
Marathon PR: – 3:05;59 Boston 2007 - 7th master
ACS DetermiNation marathons:  VCM 2009, Marine Corps 2009, Boston 2010 & Chicago 2010

Photo above:  Running  the last 3 miles of the Pack Monadnock Trail Race which is all UPHILL - the steepest I have ever run!

Favorite Running Quote:
 Always remember to keep your eyes forward, lift your feet up, and duck when you have to..... 
and if you fall... roll with it, stand up and do all you can to keep going, 
because no one is in a better place to help YOU than YOU. 
 - Nancy Cook - on trail running, cancer survivorship and life
Recent Highlighted results: 3rd master - USAT NE trail running championships - June 2010, 1st in age at the Marine Corps Marathon in November of 2009.
Maraton PR:  3:05:59
Why DetermiNation?  (NOTE:  I wrote this in Feb 2010)
The program is such a perfect fit for runners like myself --- sign up, make a committment to run and raise money by sharing your story of why you want to fight cancer.....  the online fundraising function is user friendly, the Boundless Fundraising tool on Facebook has been a great help and reminder for a soft outreach and the Training Peaks program has truly kept me on track with daily tips and reminders of the miles to run.  I recommend the program to anyone that wants to run a marathon, 1/2 marathon or event that DetermiNation is connected with nationwide.  Now with the Rock n Roll partnership where ACS will be highlighted - more people will become aware of the program and feel even more accomplishment when they cross that finish line --- to make a difference, create a world with more birthdays, and as I celebrate another birthday in June --- I will again be training, getting stronger and fighting cancer so that others may survive this terrible disease.  
Note on 9/2010: Who knew that I would personally get cancer and be fighting it myself -- I was the healthiest person I know.  And now glad I am a runner, knowing it helps me be strong, stay balanced, be healthy and continue to inspire others.  

This team has been amazing to get to know better in just 5 short months.... We will all be there in Boston - running for DetermiNation once again and continuing to inspire other runners, people who want to be active and just people who want to make a difference.  Cheers to some amazing, caring, accomplished runners sharing the good word nationwide. 

What does Nancy say about Cara & Charlie?  
They are a fun and crazy couple that I love to have energize my life!  They both have a sense of energy and humor that really fills the world with Hope & laughter & inspiration.  It is because of people like Cara, Charlie & David (and of course Judy too) that I have met and got to know through running that inspire me to be a better and faster me!  :)

Special Mention to my dear friend and marathoner who is my team mate for ACS DetermiNation Chicago and my colleague with the National Relay Business Unit - and deserves a special shout out too!
Judy Reichling
aka:  The Energizer Bunny
Age: 50
Home:  Lawrenceville, GA
Chicago #21212
Need to get Judy on Daily Mile!
2009 Marine Corps Marathon Time : 4:54:28 - Top 56% in age
Marathons run to date: 6
ACS DetermiNation events:  2 (Marine Corps 2009 and Chicago 2010)
Marathon PR: – Grandma's Marathon - 4:46:48.

Chicago 10/10/10  will be my 7th Marathon... Disney 2, 2003 and 2004 , Chicago 2, 2005 and 2006 , Grandma's Marathon 1, 2004 , Marine Corp 1, 2009.     I am really 52 :-( .. an old fart!  Funny that you called me the Energizer Bunny.. that is what Tom always calls me... I am slow but just keep going and going and going... I run and raise money for Determination for the people that I love and some that I have lost.  In particular this year is for Jan, who fought a four year battle against cancer and for my dear friend Nancy who is amazing and fighting her own fight against cancer right now!  There are so many others .. Phylecia, Dick, Joy, my niece Laura...unfortunately way to long a list of the people that I care about.  I am passionate about my work with the American Cancer Society and about finally bringing an end to cancer!!!  My words of wisdom from just last weekend are "don't drink too much the night before and then try to run 20 miles in the Georgia heat"!! It was 85 degrees when I finished.. bleech!!  Running keeps me sane.  Running is my time to think, plan, relax, and enjoy friends (when running with others).   It is an addiction and I love it! 

In Summary - 
"Why DetermiNation?  Encouraging others to get active, stay active and keep the data in order to do the best they can do is a true strength.  DetermiNation allows the combination for raising funds for the American Cancer Society mission while setting the high goal of running a marathon and sharing that experience with others.  It is like forming your own cheering section in each marathon.  And all along feeling like a champion no matter what time you cross that line." 
- Nancy Cook, soon to be 4 time ACS DetermiNATION marathon athlete, mom, wife and currently undergoing treatment for Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma!  

Thanks for stopping by --- please leave a comment below to show your support!

1 comment:

Ann said...

Good luck to all of you!! You're all an inspiration. It's an honor to know you. I'll be cheering you on every step of the way.