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I’m not sure if any of you blog readers remember but back in January, I mentioned joining Team in Training in regards to the Chicago Marathon. I registered last week!

Team in training logo1

Team in Training gives me the opportunity to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society…a cause that is dear to both me and Kevin. Training for the marathon will be one of the hardest things I will ever do…and one of the things that can make it feel even more to me would be to raise money for charity in the process. Because of advances in cancer research and medicine, I am fortunate enough to have Kevin in my life.

Listen to these statistics real quick:

  • An estimated 137, 260 people in the United States will be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma this year.
  • New cases of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma account for 9% of the 1,529,560 new cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. this year.
  • Every four minutes one person is diagnosed with a blood cancer.
  • An estimated 1,012,533 Americans are living with leukemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes.
  • Leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma will cause the deaths of an estimated 54,020 persons in the U.S. this year.
  • Every 10 minutes, someone dies from a blood cancer. That’s 148 people each day or more than six people every hour.
  • Blood cancers will account for 9.5% of deaths from cancer each year, based on the total of 569,490 cancer-related deaths.

 

I have a donation goal of 3,400. it’s a hefty goal but with your help, we can really make a difference. Please consider donating. You can visit my fundraising page here! 

I also have a special story to share with you…Kevin is sharing this post with me 🙂 Here’s his story!:

 

 

If you follow this blog you probably know more about me already then most.  However, in the spirit of hope and the cause I want to let you know more about me that most people don’t know.

 

My name is Kevin and I’m a cancer survivor.

 

My story is anything but typical. I want everyone to keep in mind that all of the following happened between April 1993 – June 1997.   Since this was quite a while ago I will try to recall the events to best of my ability. 

 

Let start from the beginning; It was April 1994, my freshman year of high school.  I had just finished my first semester and everything seemed normal. Baseball season was starting and we were getting ready for the upcoming season.  I had started to have some physical fatigue that affected my endurance and arm strength.  I had dismissed the early fatigue until one day I could not finish my running drill and sat down with the chills.  This worried both me and my family, so I went for a blood test at a local blood center.  It was then I knew that something was really wrong.  A person’s normal hemoglobin levels should be between 13.8 -17.2. My hemoglobin came back at a 3.9.  The lab techs were in shock and they were surprised that I was still walking around conscious.   My mother rushed me to the hospital where they did a bunch of testing, including bone marrow.

           

It was then I was given the news that would change my life forever.  I was diagnosed with (ALL) Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  It took three long weeks and then I was in remission.  Due to the length of time to get me into remission it was determined that I would complete an intensive chemotherapy and radiation program for 18 months.

                       

Treatment went well for me in the beginning; I only experienced the normal effects of the chemotherapy.  I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to test new drugs that were on trial and awaiting FDA approval. The most important of them was Neupogen.  This drug is used to help the growth of white blood cells so a patient can undergo treatment without the threat of being neutropenic (this means a very low white blood count…white blood cells fight bacteria and disease).  It worked wonderfully for me and is commonly used in Leukemia treatment plans today.  This instance is one of the many examples on how raising money for cancer research can make a huge difference in cancer patients lives…it certainly made one in mine.

 

Unfortunately, I had to face several roadblocks during my treatment.  In August 1995, my family decided to take a vacation for the first time since I became ill.  After we returned from that vacation I came down with an infection of the lungs.  The fungal infection worsened and the doctors decided to do a lung biopsy.  During the procedure they had to put me into an induced coma.  It got so bad that the doctors were unable to take me out of the coma; and so there I stayed for the next two and a half months.  It wasn’t until just before Thanksgiving that I woke up from the coma; unable to move I had to undertake a lot of physical therapy to learn how to walk again.  When you are down though there is always hope, I was still cancer free!

 

Life got back to semi-normal and I continued my high school in and out of the classroom.  I had small hospitalizations throughout this time due to therapy complications but nothing major. It wasn’t until a few days before my senior prom that the next huge obstacle came my way.   In May 1997 I fell into congestive heart failure.  I was at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and the doctors came to a decision that there was nothing else that they could do for me there.  I was then transported to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York.  I was in real poor shape when I got there.  Heart surgery was on the agenda. However, my body didn’t cooperate…my condition was so poor that I would not make it through the surgery. So, I went through open heart surgery and an experimental LVAD pump was installed by my surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz. (Yep, THE Dr. Oz) This LVAD pump assisted my heart and a miracle happened. My heart started to stabilize and eventually the LVAD pump was removed. 

 

This right here is a prime example on how research and development of medical technology is integral to saving lives. It was deemed later that my heart failure was caused by an overload of iron.  This is called hemochromatosis. It became apparent that the stress of the chemotherapy and large amount of blood transfusions I obtained in my coma lead to this failure.  

 

At this point I only had a few more weeks left of chemotherapy. However, my oncologist said at that point it would not be detrimental if I didn’t go through with those treatments.  I weighed 104 pounds when I finally left the hospital and once again, had to go through physical therapy to learn how to walk again. Amazing how many times I’ve had to teach myself how to walk again in my lifetime 😉 I was able to attend my high school graduation and despite being in a wheelchair, I was incredibly happy to be alive and cancer free.

Kevin

 

I have now been cancer free for 18 years!

 

In closing I want everyone to know that even in the worst possible situations there is always hope and we can all be a part of the miracle.  Please help the cause and give these children with leukemia and lymphoma a fighting chance. 

           

I want to thank Fueled by Wings and my amazing girlfriend Theresa Melendez for this opportunity.  KEEP HOPE ALIVE

 

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