Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Difference a Year Makes

I wrote this a while ago and didn't post it.  I am posting it now because I want to close the loop.  I'm July of 2013, Michael (patient #37916) was officially discharged from St. Jude.  Dr Michael Neel said, "if you have a problem, call us, otherwise I'll see you never.  Please spell my name right when he signs his NFL contract-football is BIG in TN)".   I ran the Christie Clinic Half Marathon in May 2013 and our team raised more than $5000 for St Jude and I trained for the St Jude Half in Memphis Dec 7, but it was cancelled due to bad weather.

The following is what I wrote previously:

Exactly one year ago on Wednesday, June 13, 2012, MG and I returned from a fabulous EF Tour to Belize.

Upon our return, TGF sat me down and told me that there was something wrong with Michael's (who was 6 at the time) arm.  I knew that he had some appointments while I was gone, but I thought it was more of an Ortho/Chiro matter and trusted that TGF had it under control (which he did) and so I didn't worry while we were on our trip.

On Wednesday, June 13, 2012, TGF said the Drs. said it might be an infection in the bone or it might be an old break or it might be a tumor.  If you have ever been through something like this (and I sincerely hope you never do), you know the hot feeling of dread and panic that settled into my chest and my very bones.

On Wednesday, June 20th, we had a CT scan at the St. Jude Clinic in Peoria and met with the head of Pediatric Oncology there at the St. Jude Clinic.  You see, St. Jude works to eliminate the worst outcome first and thus they told us it was cancer, they told us that they would defer to the wishes of St. Jude in Memphis, but that perhaps we could arrange for Michael to have his CHEMOTHERAPY treatments at St. Jude in Peoria, but that they would let St. Jude in Memphis make the final decision on that.   I was stunned, but I think I did a reasonably credible job of holding it together so that Michael didn't get freaked out.  The Dr. was very kind, gave me her card which contained her personal cell number and offered to answer any questions that I/we had.  Lots and lots of "what if" questions were swirling in my head, but I asked none of them.

On Friday, June 22rd, the Pediatric Oncologist that we met with called us and we were informed that St. Jude in Memphis wanted us there on Monday, June 25th and then 20 minutes later, St. Jude in Peoria called and made arrangements for us to fly to Memphis that Monday.  TGF drove to Memphis and Michael and I flew.  St. Jude pays for the patient and 1 parent to fly if it is necessary.  Monday through Thursday of that week was a blur.  Security and privacy are strict at St. Jude and they wouldn't let TGF into the gate until Michael and I had checked in.  Immediately upon arrival Michael had a huge blood draw and xrays and we received a schedule of appointments for the following days and we were instructed to check with scheduling every day to make sure there weren't additions to the schedule. 

Anyway, to make a long story short, about 4 really stressful, really traumatic weeks later, we were relieved to find that Michael's tumor is a Benign Osteo Blastoma, very rare in kids his age.  It should never occur anywhere else in his body, his body may consume the tumor eventually or in the exact words of Dr. Neel, "the biopsy may piss it off and make it grow faster". 

We went back to St. Jude in August, 2012 and again in October, 2012 and in January 2013 and we go back in July 2013.  In January, Dr. Neel said that if nothing changed in July, he would "discharge" us.  What that means, I do not know, but I at this point almost exactly a year later, I feel the need to mark the end of that traumatic year.  Could it have been worse?  Absolutely!  Am I complaining?  NO WAY!  I don't know if I will ever recover from this St. Jude experience.  I have tried to express my feelings on this many times and each time I come up short.  I started sending money to St. Jude Monthly in August of 2012 and will continue to do so until the last day I draw breath, I formed a team and ran the Illinois Half Marathon as a St. Jude Hero on April 27th, 2013 and I have registered to run THE St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis on December 7, 2013. 

Our experience at St. Jude was amazing.  It was a comforting, supportive place.  During all the turmoil of that time, I can't help but be SO thankful for not only the care that Michael received, but for all the support that was provided to our family.  We had housing and meals and transportation provided by St. Jude.

I am thankful for my mom and dad.  We basically abandoned MG and fled to Memphis.  This is what we needed to do and I know she was well taken care of and I even offered to bring her to Memphis with us, but MG declined, she said, "You have to get Michael's arm thing sorted out, I am fine at Grandmas".  Mom and dad fed the pigs and took care of our dogs and took care of Mary all while they were as panicked as we were.  My oldest son, Jack, stood tall and strong and propped ME up on more than one occasion while he continued his Grad School studies.  You see, he googled and I didn't.  He was more terrified than we were.  Word to the wise never ever google unless it the absolute last resort.  My friends, Karen and Miranda and Ellen and Kim and my knitting homies, James and Ted and Leslie and Olga.  TGF's brother Steve, who no doubt played a huge role in getting us to St. Jude as quickly as we did.  He will never admit, perhaps and I really don't want to KNOW, but I am thankful.  The thoughts and prayers of those who love us literally held us up during that horrific time.  

If I failed to mention someone, please take no offense.  Your help was and is greatly appreciated.  

A picture of Michael in the day he was discharged from St Jude.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

River City Marathon for some, 5K for me

So, as I was looking at life after the Half, I saw the River City Marathon.  It is for St. Jude and since I am all about the St. Jude, I signed up.

Ran the Half, April 27th and then proceeded to run exactly three times before the River City Marathon.. Had a great time hanging out with Ed, Stephanie, their kids, Katie, Paul and Moira Marshall.  Being around positive people who also happen to be runners is SO refreshing.  Note to self, hang out with runners more.  Ed and Katie (brother and sister) both rocked the Full Marathon OUT!

Anyway, started the run, it was a small event.  Only about 2000 runners overall.  Chugged along at my normal pace.  I found that I missed my Half Marathon running buddy Karen ;(  but ended up about the same pace as this lovely lady in a cute running outfit, skirt and all.  We were chugging along and she asked me if this was my first 5K and I happily told her, no, I had just finished a Half Marathon 3 weeks ago.  She was surprised.  I think I could get used to surprising people like that.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Tomorrow I will leave work early and head to Champaign, IL for the Illinois Marathon.

Six months ago, this was a "wouldn't it be cool" thought that I shared with very, very few people.

I have done the training, I have run the program. I missed a few short runs, but throughout the winter, I did not miss one single long run AND I ran them all alone, outside during an Illinois winter.

My kids and TGF and my mom and dad have watched me work towards this goal and bless them, they never one single time, discouraged me and let me tell you, that was probably not the easiest thing to do as I was a bear with a sore ass on long run days.

I am contemplating the Victory Pose and the Facebook pictures and running into Memorial Stadium down the chute and crossing the 50 yard line. The Chief danced there and I will stand there too, with a Finishers Medal around my neck.

I and my team have raised enough to fly a kid and parent to St. Jude in Memphis and feed and house them for at least a week. I remember my dad dropping Michael and I off at the airport that first trip to Memphis and I am proud that our team can provide at least that comfort.

My left heel hurts, my right knee twinges, my feet felt like ground beef just over one week ago when I finished my 14 mile run and I'm scared because 13.1 miles is a long way, but today the thought occurred to me, "What if the training was the hardest part?"

I'll let you know after Saturday.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon or BUST!

Last Saturday, in the dark of the night after an exciting day of swimming and diver watching at the University of Minnesota, I finally came out of the closet and sent donation e-mails and posted on Facebook that I was running the Half Marathon.

When the first donation came back just moments later, I cried.  I cry every time I get a donation.  If I ever get myself into a place where I think there is no one who loves me or no one cares, I will look at the donations and remember.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Glory Days

HAHAHAHAHAHA~! I was looking at the posts that I had composed and never published and this is one that I created at the beginning of my Half Marathon journey 10 or more weeks ago. 3 it seems so "pedestrian" as I would jokingly tell the kids.

 So, it might not be quite common knowledge, but I am running a Half Marathon, The Illinois Marathon on April 27, 2013. I started this journey to health more than a year ago and I have kept at it now for a year. I started thinking about it in June when Michael was diagnosed and it has gotten to the point of "why not". On one hand it is a crazy idea, I am 48 years old, weigh more than the charts say I should and have never been a runner. BUT, I remember the glory days. I played sports in high school and wasn't all that bad at them. Never the best, but could always be counted on when the chips were down. I have some stellar soccer memories, some goals, some injuries and in fact was inducted into the Serena High School Athletic Hall of Fame a few years ago. I remember during the induction, I was thinking, "I bet no one that knows me now would ever believe that I was an athlete". Well, at 48 years old, I am again transitioning from a couch potato to an athlete and I pray that this time it sticks. The Half Marathon training program is 16 weeks. I just finished week 2 which required a 4 mile "Long Run". I was grumpy about it, I was afraid I couldn't do it, but I know that I need to follow the plan or I will not be successful in my Half Marathon attempt and I will be a Finisher. SO after mile 3 of the "long run", I got to thinking about the fact that I would indeed finish this first long run and that in 16 weeks, I'll be finishing the Half Marathon and how glorious it will be to cross the finish line at the 50 yard line of Memorial Stadium and strike my "Victory Pose". I almost started to cry. It will be so cool at 48 to have an athletic Glory Day again.I'll keep you posted.

From Runners World

This came from Runners World. I wanted to save it, it is NOT my creation.

Hey, Fat Girl Yes, you. The one feigning to not see me when we cross paths on the running track. The one not even wearing sports gear, breathing heavy. You’re slow, you breathe hard and your efforts at moving forward make you cringe. You cling shyly to the furthest corridor, sometimes making larger loops on the gravel ring by the track just so you’re not on it. You sweat so much that your hair is all wet. You rarely stay for more than 20 minutes at a time, and you look exhausted when you leave to go back home. You never talk to anyone. I’ve got something I’d like to say to you. You are awesome. If you’d look me in the eye only for an instant, you would notice the reverence and respect I have for you. The adventure you have started is tremendous; it leads to a better health, to renewed confidence and to a brand new kind of freedom. The gifts you will receive from running will far exceed the gigantic effort it takes you to show up here, to face your fears and to bravely set yourself in motion, in front of others. You have already begun your transformation. You no longer accept this physical state of numbness and passivity. You have taken a difficult decision, but one that holds so much promise. Every hard breath you take is actually a tad easier than the one before, and every step is ever so slightly lighter. Each push forward leaves the former person you were in your wake, creating room for an improved version, one that is stronger, healthier and forward-looking, one who knows that anything is possible. You’re a hero to me. And, if you’d take off the blaring headphones and put your head up for more than a second or two, you would notice that the other runners you cross, the ones that probably make you feel so inadequate, stare in awe at your determination. They, of all people, know best where you are coming from. They heard the resolutions of so many others, who vowed to pick up running and improve their health, “starting next week”. Yet, it is YOU who runs alongside, who digs from deep inside to find the strength to come here, and to come back again. You are a runner, and no one can take that away from you. You are relentlessly moving forward. You are stronger than even you think, and you are about to be amazed by what you can do. One day, very soon, maybe tomorrow, you’ll step outside and marvel at your capabilities. You will not believe your own body, you will realize that you can do this. And a new horizon will open up for you. You are a true inspiration. I bow to you.

Monday, March 04, 2013

I really ran 9.5 miles?

It's starting to get real now. The long run has been steadily increasing and while it has been hard so far, it has been "doable". I would finish thinking "13.1 won't be that bad". It will be hard, but it is simply a matter of walk/run/walk/run. Endurance, not speed is my goal. Well, yesterday I ran 9.5 miles. Dude it was HARD...I ran out of GU the last 2 miles. I kept thinking 1 minute at a time, 1 minute at a time...My dad came to check on me and I had about 1 mile left and I told him I was fine, but I really, really wanted to crawl into the truck and let him drive me home, but I didn't. When the little voice in my earphones said, "Congratulations, now lets cool down"...I almost cried with relief. I walked the rest of the way to my starting point and stretched and ate and stretched again and again and again. I was stiff for about 3 hours after but by the evening, I was doing pretty well and today, I am HUNGRY, but other than that, I feel pretty good. This linebacker body of mine seems to be doing its thing and getting stronger. Let's not talk about the next long run (11 miles).

Sunday, February 03, 2013

My Half Marathon Journey

I am told that I should blog my journey to the Illinois Half on April 27, 2013. Hmmm, well, ok, I'll try...On one hand, I've always thought it would be cool to run. ALL healthy people run, right? And I WANT to be healthy and so if I run, I'll be healthy. I started the C25k program back in....late summer/early fall 2011 and ran the Turkey Trot in Oglesby. I puttered at the Y and half-ass tried to continue the program trying to use it to get faster. I ran the Walter Payton 8k in June, 2012 and then didn't really run much until the fall of 2012. When Michael got sent to St Jude, all I could think of was "I may never get to run a 5k with him". I know that wasn't the right attitude, but I was terrified. When we experienced St. Jude, I wanted to give back. Sure we will be a Partner in Hope until the day we both draw our last breath, but I wanted to do something harder than just donate money. It became a crazy, crazy dream to run the St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis. You see there is a picture at St.Jude of which I am particularly fond, it is a famous athlete, bit I don'to know who it is, wearing a St.Jude Hero singlet. But that is a long time away. Could I train and focus on a goal that far away?

I started thinking about a "warm-up Half" and found the Christie Clinic Marathon in April in Champaign and THEN, I discovered that I could run the Illinois Half as a St. Jude Hero individually or I could form a team. Anyway, to make an endless story short, I formed a Team "Team Michael and the M&M'S" and thus I am now committed to running the Illinois Half Marathon as part of a St. Jude Hero team. Eeekkkk... The good news is that I can kill two birds with one stone!

SO... When swim season started, I got myself to the Y as often as possible. I did Lose to Win in the fall and started taking Power Hour on Mondays and Wednesdays, a Cardio class on Fridays and started the c25k again. Attempted the Jailhouse Jog in Peoria (benefits St. Jude and Walked the 2012 Turkey Tot because a friend was walking. December 1 I started the training for the Half. I am using the Galloway method. I am at a 1/1 progression. Meaning I walk for a minute and then run for a minute. I am shooting for a pace of 15 min per mile which is extremely slow and kind of shameful for a runner, but it is what it is. I have learned that people run marathons and Half marathons this way or some variation of this method all the time. I had always thought that all marathon runners ran the entire 26.2 or 13.1 miles. This is evidently not the case. When I found out I could run/walk I thought, "Hey! Maybe I can really do this?" and I began training in earnest.

I am scared, scared to death. I don't look like a runner, I look like a linebacker. I have told people, too many people for me to have to face if I don't do the race...I have haters, haters who when they hear of my adventure will scoff and say nasty things behind my back and ask me what my time was. I have a response ready for them. People who love me have said, "oh, you'll cause yourself osteo problems" and "aren't you taking too much time from the children" and "oh, marathons are so hard on your body". In all honesty, many people have encouraged me to the moon and back. I work almost full-time, have a husband, 3 kids, 2 dogs and all the other issues of a busy woman in 2013. But I have decided, I will stick to the training, I will put in the time and log the miles. I will run this one Half Marathon for Michael and when that is over....I'll see if I want to do another one, or not....