Earlier in the week, during one of those more lucid moments (they only occur after 10 a.m.), I had the bright idea of running to practice on Saturday.   I would have driven to practice if I had to make the decision yesterday morning at 6 a.m.  It meant getting up even earlier on a Saturday morning, running across the bridge, through a few neighborhoods and into the park to meet up with my team.  Yesterday was supposed to be a shorter run and I should have turned around after running the bridge but then I would miss the mission moment.

Which belonged to the lovely Sandy.

Sandy was diagnosed with CLL a few years ago (CLL = chronic lymphocytic leukemia – white blood cells grow abnormally & crowd out the healthy red blood cells).  As I knew nothing about blood cancers before joining Team in Training, I am becoming well versed in all things leukemia & lymphoma related.  The ‘chronic’ portion of CLL refers to a kind of “wait & see” treatment plan.  You’re never really sure when it may become full blown.  Instead, there are monthly doctor visits to track cell counts, among other things.

Because her stats have been normal, Sandy has not had to go through chemo.  Yet.  But the moment her counts are in the danger zone, there will be a quick counter attack of chemo followed by a possible bone marrow transplant.  (If you would like information on becoming a bone marrow donor – check out the National Marrow Donor Program.)

I am not quite sure how she handles it, knowing that at any moment her life could drastically change.  (True for all of us, but most of us still operate under the “it couldn’t happen to me” philosophy.)  Her family has run in several marathons with Team in Training & she finds solace in knowing there is a group of people fundraising & running for her.

If I have learned anything from this experience, it is that research is king.  Time & money, its servants.  Last week, Coach E shared there is some new drug going through FDA testing but all signs look like it is going to have a 90% plus success rate for the blood cancer it will treat.  (I apologize for the lack of memory over details – I’m better at remembering numbers.)  Research for this new drug has been going on for the last 25 years.

To say “it’s an exciting time” for cancer research may be inappropriate, but these discoveries give hope to people.  It gives them hope that life isn’t over or shortened when they are diagnosed with cancer.

If you would like to donate to help fund research for leukemia & lymphoma, you can do so here.  (Shameless plug, I know.)

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