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"!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Yes I am a DetermiNator!

Recently I was asked to write about why I run and raise money for the American Cancer Society through the DetermiNation program.  As a crazy Relayer (a person dedicated to Relay For Life through work & volunteerism) --- my work with the ACS has me promoting the Relay experience on a daily basis - and yes I do bleed "purple" and drink the Kool Aid quite often.  It is "cult-like" to be in the Relay Family and it feels real good to meet others all over the world that are passionate about making a difference by raising the much needed funds to fight cancer, walking around the track, celebrating survivors, caregivers and the memory of those we may have lost.  Through my experiences at Relay and building this passion and it was about time that I share my passion of running with my passion for fighting cancer.  I knew about the Charity Runner program, and looked forward to seeing what I could accomplish by dedicating my marathons to a cause & organization that I believe in.

The American Cancer Society Charity Runner program began in Illinois and my friend / colleague Ann has spearheaded the efforts of promotion and building up the nationwide support of this avenue for raising funds to fight cancer through ACS.   I admire her energy and leadership to bring this forward to more events across the country.  It has been amazing to watch it grow!  Now with the name DetermiNation it truly hits home to the endurance runners everywhere that are out there DETERMINED to find a cure!  Look out --- ACS has now signed up one Determined lady! 

Because I am a crazy runner --- 4 Ironman triathlons and more than 20 marathons under my belt -- I had some great marathon finishes behind me before I transformed into a DetermiNator. :)

So you ask Why DetermiNation?
I love to run. 
I love to compete. 
I love setting goals and SMASHING them to pieces!  
I love marathons --- ok it can be quite draining and sometimes agonizing to have to dig so deep to push yourself for 26.2 miles, but the amazing endorphins you build up to carry you (AKA: Runner High) to the finish and the pride of wearing that finisher medal compares to nothing else.  
I love medals.  I love to win.  I love feeling like a crazy runner - when people don't understand you because you just can't stop running, training and sign up for yet another marathon.  

I love to make a difference.  I love to show others that being a strong athlete can also be a platform for advocating for better healthcare, better treatments, more research and tools for making a better quality of life for anyone who faces this disease.  

So after my 3rd DetermiNation marathon which happened to be Boston, I had signed up to do Chicago, again as a DetermiNator --- and was diagnosed with diffuse Large B Cell lymphoma.  And for some crazy reason - it just made me want to run more, show everyone that cancer would NOT beat me.  No way.... and on top of that I am going to bring more attention to the fact that I am fighting cancer, not only in my chemo treatments, but out there training for the Chicago marathon and raising the funds for the American Cancer Society.  It feels even more powerful to train as a cancer survivor - to show others the strength and determination it takes to be in the best shape and hit all my goals!  

Sharing the entire history below -- links to each story on my blog with each experience if you really want a good read.... :)

My first ACS DetermiNation event was VT City in Burlington Vermont - May 2009
Raised - $1340
3:19:59 - 216th overall place of 2119 competitors
21st woman - 4th in age

My second ACS DetermiNation event was Marine Corps Marathon in DC - November 2009
Newspaper article in the Republican about me in the MCM
Raised $1100
1st place in age - Master Woman

My third ACS DetermiNation event was the Boston Marathon - April 2010
Raised $1560

3:23:17- 7.46 min/mile
5291 overall - 712 woman - Overall- 41th master!  

My fourth ACS DetermiNation event was the Chicago Marathon - October 2010
Raised $1800
3:57;58 - 7807 overall of 36,088- 1974 woman of 16,142 and I was 135 in age
*NOTE - I was 2/3 of the way through my chemo treatments on 10/10/10

My fifth ACS DetermiNation event was the Boston Marathon - April 2011
Raised $1933.80
3:30:27 (8:02 min/mile) - 7816 overall of , 1445 woman of 10,074, 101 in age group out of 1597 in 45-49 age
*NOTE:  This marathon was 6 weeks after the removal of my spleen in order for a biopsy to be done in case of more cancer.
More Boston statistics 

My sixth ACS DetermiNation event will be the ing New York City Marathon - November 2011
Goal:  $1500  Currently raised: $852

Total (in less than 3 years!) = $8587.80  

Hope to hit the $10,000 mark soon!  PLEASE help me spread the word we can fight this disease!  Here is the link to my donation page for the ing NYCM with more of my story. 

 You can help me make my goal and you can make a difference too.  Thank you so much for reading my story of strength and DetermiNation.  As long as I am running marathons I will be a part of this DetermiNator team!

My Fundraising Tips?

1. Ask - if you don't ask they can't give
2. No could mean - not now - don't be afraid to ask again
3. Thank everyone that gives immediately - amazing the repeat donors when you treat them right!
4. Thank people publicly so others see it and may want to donate too!
5. Keep it up front and visible with the link everywhere so people know where to go to make a donation. 
6. Share your story - keep it real
7. Thank people even when they say no.
8. Communicate to everyone and keep them engaged in your training, your campaign to raise funds and to be connected to the efforts all around
9. Ask again! - count down your days till the big race and include how much money you have raised and how much to get to your goal.
10.  Celebrate with everyone that you touch through your outreach -- your completing the marathon or endurance event is something that they want to hear about and feel a special part of - so don't forget to share your results!

Above photo is of me at the Big Fourth in Springfield MA on July 4, 2011 -- I was 3rd woman overall and ran a PR 5K with a 19:56.  6:20 minutes per mile.  Very proud of myself that day! :)

Until we find a cure.