I learned a lot at my Team in Training (TNT) kick-off party yesterday afternoon. So far, there are 37 team members for this season – some of us training for the Disney Half Marathon, some of us training for the Nike Women’s Marathon, but all of us working and fundraising for the same purpose: to change lives, to advocate for patients and their families, and to further the LLS mission to find a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
Training does not begin until next weekend, but my team has already raised over $2500 — enough to cover a leukemia patient’s one month supply of Gleevec. Imagine what we, as a team, can accomplish in our fundraising over the next 5 months. Our campaign manager is confident our team will raise $100,000 by the end of the season!
I met a lot of great people at the kick-off party, including a strong and beautiful young woman named Erin. Erin, a cancer survivor, is one of our honored teammates and will be training and fundraising along with us this season. Here is her story:
In late October 2007, Erin started noticing a chronic non-productive cough. The cough continued into November unchanged, but other problems started to appear. Soon Erin was so fatigued after showering that she had to crawl back into bed before getting ready for work. On November 16, Erin went to urgent care with symptoms of chest pain, fatigue, breathlessness, weight-loss and cough. Diagnosis: allergies. Erin had never had an allergy to anything in her twenty-seven years.
Just a few days later, Saturday, while walking on the treadmill at a casual pace, her heart rate was over 180 beats per minute, near the maximum for her age. The following Monday after dinner Erin wasn’t able to lie down. Instead she propped herself up with pillows in the bed. As soon as her fiance saw this situation, he took her to the emergency room (against her will).
A chest x-ray was ordered and as soon as it was viewed, a number of other tests followed. A CT scan allowed the doctors to determine that an 11x10x9cm mass was covering Erin’s left lung, essentially crushing it. While they weren’t able to make a diagnosis without a biopsy, they immediately admitted Erin to the Oncology floor at Cottage Hospital. The following five days were filled with biopsies, blood tests, pain medication, and finally a diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Three days after her arrival in the emergency room, she received her first round of chemotherapy. This treatment also included an immunotherapy called Rituxan, a drug whose research was funded by the LLS and Team in Training.
After six rounds of chemo and twenty days of radiation, Erin is now in remission and completed her first half marathon with Team in Training on November 1, 2008. Although some lasting effects from the radiation are still noticeable, they are slowly disappearing. For Erin, something she always heard people say, “Anyone can get cancer”, was truly made a reality when she was diagnosed. An otherwise healthy, young, former college basketball player with no family history of cancer, she saw her life change in a moment.
At our kick-off party, Erin thanked us wholeheartedly for joining Team in Training this season. LLS and TNT helped fund the research for Rituxan, which helped save her life. Erin is an inspiration for our team and she is living proof that my participation in LLS’ Team in Training is incredibly important and that my fundraising with Team in Training can truly help change lives. I thank Erin for sharing her story with us, and I am honored to be training with her this season.
Please visit my website below and pledge your support for the LLS effort to help people like Erin. Every dollar counts.
Saving Lives One Mile at a Time http://pages.teamintraining.org/los/nikesf10/mbahnson