Geez, Day 1 and I already fell down on the job. In my defense, I flew in from Europe Sunday, and the last leg of the flight, NY to DFW, was scheduled to arrive in DFW at 11:30 pm. The plane didn't leave NY until 11:45 pm, and I had a full day of work waiting for me here Monday morning. So when I came home from that, I crashed... and didn't remember about this venture until my cat came in to share some riveting news with us, at 5:00 am Tuesday.)
I first got to know the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in 2005. A friend of mine sent out an email at work, asking for donations to her Team in Training campaign. She was training for a marathon. I'm not sure if she had a personal connection to blood cancers specifically, or to cancer in general, or if she was doing it more for the physical challenge and commitment; regardless I was impressed and made a donation. And somewhere in the process I must have checked the "Send me more information" box.
Months later I received a flier inviting me to attend one of the many informational meetings Team in Training was holding for their new Summer Teams. I went.
They ask you to RSVP to the meetings. They hold several all over the Metroplex, and the one I had chosen to attend (which best fit my schedule and geography) was later on in the "meeting season." Which meant I had a couple of weeks to think about what I had decided I was going to do... I wanted to train for a marathon, to raise money for blood cancer research. A marathon - a long, eternal, grueling marathon, even though I had never successfully run around the block twice in a row. But I was going to train for a marathon this time. I'd decided.
The more I thought about it, the more I got it in my head that I had to do it. I imagined myself training. I imagined myself running. I imagined myself crossing the finish line (looking glamorous and accomplished, of course). I had to make those things happen.
The date finally came, and I went to the meeting. It pumped me up even more - if that was possible. It was like being in a high school pep rally, but this time the pep rally was for me, because I was there to make a commitment to battle cancer by providing funding for research and patient services. I was there to make a commitment to train for an endurance event to motivate friends, family, and strangers to give me money for the LLS.
I did not have a personal connection to blood cancers, but I did to cancer. My brother is a survivor - his last semester of college, after a year of feeling ill, the doctors found a tumor in his brain. They operated, removed the tumor, did chemo. He lost his hair, most of his body weight, and the hearing in his left ear. He had to use a walker for months, because his balance was affected when they removed the tumor. He almost lost his voice, at least temporarily, because his throat and tongue were affected as well, and had to have a feeding tube put in.
He's fully recovered now (except for the hearing, that's permanent - but he says he's okay with having traded the hearing in one ear for his life). He's past the 5-year mark, cancer-free, doing well.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is focused on finding a cure for blood cancers, and providing patient services to families who suffer from blood cancers. But they're also the largest cancer research facility, and, the way I see it, cancer is cancer. We don't know what causes it and we don't know how to stop it - no matter which organ it attacks, it works the same way. Research done in one field benefits all other fields.
The LLS is responsible for the research that led to chemotherapy, for starters, which is the main treatment cancer patients, of any form of cancer, receive. I like these folks; I believe in what they do and I am grateful for what they've done, and I trust them to be doing the right thing. This is why I have no problem asking people to give me money to help the LLS do what it does. If you'd like to find out more about what they've done, please visit their website. This link gives more technical info on some of the LLS's recent advances.
I'll let you know "tomorrow" (later on today, since it's already Day 2) what happened at that meeting. A little too much pep, not enough of my own brain cells.
In the meantime, feel free to visit my 2008 Fall Team in Training fundraising page: www.active,.com/donate/tntntx/Criss4shay