My father has the open moon face of Morgan Freeman. It is a face that moves me to silence, that shows its vulnerability in every collection of blotched pigment or skin tag. It is a face that has been crowned by cancer.
During a 2004 fall soccer game where my brother coached USC against my alma mater, Davidson, my father jokingly switched hats at half-time when Davidson pulled ahead. I looked down at him and noticed two black splotches and an unseemly lump, abysses of sickness, on his scalp.
“You doing something about that?” I asked.
“Yeah, I have a visit scheduled for Good Friday.”
It was September.
“Good Friday? No. You have to get in there sooner.”
Six weeks later, he had everything removed and biopsied. Days later, I learned that cancer had been there all along, trying to sneak past our family. Weeks later, I drove to Columbia and watched marrow be drained from my father’s hip with a needle the size of my forearm, the first step on his way to radiation. My world shrunk in the face of cancer, narrowing to the road between my house and my parents’. I sent cards that arrived every day of my dad’s radiation treatment. I e-mailed doctors, read medical journals, learned about environmental hazards near my parents’ house, researched cancer clusters. I sat through day long chemotherapy sessions with my dad asleep at my side, his drip alternating from clear liquid to red to tan. My world was consumed with the chronicling of a sickness.
Eventually, the passivity of the treatment process as a family member (the sit and wait, the watch and wonder) was more than I could bear, and the small actions that I had created for myself, the reading, calling, questioning, were not enough. I had to move, and my movement had to change the count so I signed up for a 100 mile bike ride and fundraiser in honor of my Dad and all people who fight blood cancers. I would travel to Lake Tahoe and use this “century ride” to raise money for Team in Training, a fundraiser for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Not longer after I signed up, my sister-in-law, Kristi, gamely volunteered to do it with me.
Team in Training is a fundraising engine for LLS that prepares the average person to complete an endurance event. They provide a coach, a fundraising mentor, weekly training, and travel arrangements. At least 75% of the money raised goes to research or patient aid. Our individual goals were to raise $3700. Together, we raised over $12,000.
At the most basic level, Team in Training allows participants to move for survival. Our own, certainly, but, more importantly and more urgently, the survival of every cancer patient. Each mile has a price, and that price is life.
Since that initial event, Kristi and I have gone on to do more Team in Training events. Right now, Kristi is in the final stretch of her fundraising for her first marathon and I wanted to share her solicitation with you in the hopes that you might be willing to support her with a dollar for every mile she runs ($26.20 total). Thanks so much for considering this important cause!
Here is a post from Kristi:
In 2005, my sister-in-law Rosie and I raised over $12,000 and biked 100 miles as part of the Team In Training program on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of Rosie’s father, who was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma during the fall of 2004. In 2007, I raised over $7,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and participated in two triathlons. Many friends helped me reach those goals in 2005 and 2007.
In honor of Rosie’s father, Roberto Molinary, who is now cancer-free, in honor of my friend Matt Smith’s mother, Louise Smith, who recently completed treatment for Mantle Cell Lymphoma, and in honor of the many people who suffer from blood-related cancers, I have decided to sign-up for another Team in Training challenge. As many of you know, I am training for my first marathon on June 27, 2009, as a member of the Western North Carolina Area’s Team In Training Program. My marathon training is going well. This Saturday I will run 18 miles, the longest distance I have ever run.
TNT is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s largest fund-raising program, bringing in over 73 million dollars this past year alone to find a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma. Each participant in the program pledges to raise a certain amount of money during the 4-5 months they train for their event. I have set a personal goal to raise at least $4,500 for my marathon. Of that amount, over 75% of the money raised will be used by the Society for research, patient services and education.
As of today, I have raised 70% of the $4,500 goal and need your help to reach the finish line of my fundraising goal. Please consider pledging $1 for each of the 26.2 miles that I will run during the marathon for a total of $26.20. Your donation is tax-deductible and NO DONATION IS TOO SMALL. If you are interested in contributing to this important cause, you may send your donation to me made out to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (1925 Providence Road, Charlotte, NC 28211) or you may visit and donate directly over at my website.
Thanks so much for considering!