September 26, 2017
It was supposed to be a great two-week vacation in Germany. It was my second visit as a chaperone for a student exchange/homestay and my husband Matt was going to join me after the two weeks of student activities. We would visit with my homestay families and tour with my German friend who arranged the entire trip. Three days before my husband was to join me I received a call from our middle son telling me that Matt had been taken to the hospital, from work, by ambulance with a possible stroke. The doctor was going to call when they had news. Eight hours later I got the call and 18 hours later I was on a flight home to Seattle.
It wasn't’ a stroke. Matt went through six months of testing, all the while taking 60 mgs of prednisone every day. He lost some mobility, had impaired speech and never returned to work. January of 2009 he had his bone marrow tested and 25% of his white blood cells were cloning. The diagnosis was Lymphoma of the Central Nervous System. Treatment was chemotherapy and radiation. Chemo put him in the hospital every two weeks for 5 days at a time for three months. Radiation was daily for 30 days. It was not an easy six months but the result was remission for three years. He continued to be tested every three months and the brain showed no signs of fluid until June of 2012.
The doctor had told us that it wasn't’t a matter of “if” the cancer came back but “when.” With lymphoma of his type it came back with a vengeance. Matt went through almost a year of different treatments but by May of 2013 it was evident he was losing the battle. He remained optimistic throughout, but also realistic and he called a halt to treatment. Matt passed away at home with me and our three sons by his side on June 14, 2013.
During his last five years, Matt never lost his sense of humor or positive outlook on life, even though he couldn't’t do the the work he loved most – aerospace engineering. He was able to do some of the things he loved – woodworking, yard work, playing cards, especially cribbage with our neighbor and poker at the local casino. Our three sons enjoyed poker also and so it was a natural move to build a fundraiser for LLS around poker.
For the past four years we have held a 50/50 Texas Hold’em “All In To Beat Cancer” Poker Tournament benefiting LLS. Why? Because LLS has funded research that has found treatment for the lymphoma that Matt had. While it is too late for Matt, our families hope is that many others will be saved through the continued funding by LLS. To date we have raised more $20,000 dollars and this February 10, 2018 we will host our Fifth Annual Tournament at the WAC. Our goal for this year is $20,000.
Check back for updates on how to register for the "All In To Beat Cancer" Tournament and help the Reddy family meet their goal of $20,000 towards saving lives!
September 14, 2017
My name is Tyler Kowal and I am a Burkitts Lymphoma Survivor. I was diagnosed during my senior year at Gonzaga University and have been cancer free for 9 years now.
Shortly after I finished my treatment, I became aware of LLS via Big Climb. A close family friend formed a team to celebrate my journey and completion of treatments. Once I saw the professionalism and passion for fighting blood cancers that the staff of LLS had, I knew it was an organization I wanted to be involved with. I then became a first connection volunteer to help those who were newly diagnosed learn about their journey in battling cancer. I also wanted to help spread more information about what LLS was doing. The more I got involved with the organization, the more I was impressed and the more I wanted to be able to help. I have since become a board of trustee member and I also participate in multiple LLS campaigns.
Because of my involvement with LLS, I have been able to open up more to my teams and co-workers. It helps to have a personal connection and a passion to help. I have found other co-workers who have had a connection with a blood cancer and it has all helped to build a better network as well as find a common goal we all want to achieve - the elimination of cancer!
Something that potential supporters need to understand - blood cancers are easier to study than those that are hard tumors, and as a result blood cancer research and treatments often spills into other cancer fields. For example, when I was going through my treatments I was given a treatment that is now being used to treat breast cancers. When 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, we should do anything we can do to help eliminate this disease.
LIght The Night is taking place on October 21, 2017, at the Seattle Center. To donate to Tyler's efforts and help create a world without blood cancers, please go to: http://pages.lightthenight.org/wa/SeattleL17/TKowal
March 8, 2017
My journey with LLS started in 2011. A friend at work asked me if I wanted to do a stair climb. That year I did it for the challenge. As soon as I walked into the Columbia tower to do that first climb, I was so overwhelmed. There were so many people coming together, climbing for a cure.It was amazing. Before this I had no clue what this event was even about. And now, 5 years later, it is so much more than just a climb. This will be my 6th year participating and my 5th year as a team captain. We have a team “Leuk Stairwalkers” of some amazing people, family and friends. We all have our own reason for climbing but we are all connected with our mission to fight and climb for a cure.
I have volunteered for LLS for the past 4 years working in the office and at different events including Team in Training. I have also volunteered at the Firefighter Stairclimb for the past 2 years. Volunteering has given me the opportunity to not only help but also talk with so many that are in this fight against blood cancers. So many people have or know someone that’s been touched by some form of blood cancer.
I'm finding that everyone has a story, whether it’s a loved one, a family member, a friend, a friend of a friend or maybe even someone you just met. These stories, these people are why we climb. The Dedication posters that are on the walls of the stairwells we climb are one of the things I’m so passionate about. Last year we had 13 posters and everyone we did one for was so grateful. It’s a great way to honor our loved ones and it reminds us climbers why we are climbing. These posters keep us climbing to the top.
Why do I climb? I climb to bring awareness to this cause & to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in our fight against blood cancers. I climb for my Dad – Robert Sroka, my Sister in Law– Colleen Sroka, both Lymphoma Survivors. I climb in memory of my Mother in Law – Betty Sanderson. These are just a few of the many people I climb for. I wish I didn't know so many that have been touched by some form of blood cancer. I climb in hopes of someday finding a cure so that no one has to hear those words “I'm sorry but there's nothing more we can do”.
When I think of those who have won their fight & those that are still fighting, it gives me hope that we are making a difference in this fight against blood cancers. I can't cure cancer but I can fight and I will keep climbing for a cure. Together we can Climb, Conquer, Cure! One step closer...
Big Climb is taking place on March 26th at the Columbia Tower. To donate to Pam's efforts and help create a world without blood cancers, please go to: http://www.llswa.org/site/TR/Events/BigClimb?px=1838732&pg=personal&fr_id=1540
December 30, 2016
A sore throat, back and neck pain, high fever and energy loss. These were the seemingly innocent symptoms that sent me to urgent care in 2008. Two months later - 30 years old, married with two young children - I was told I had cancer.
Soon, I was listening to a teary-eyed oncologist explain that it was very possible I may check in to the hospital and never check out. The second opinion I received was even worse: I was told I should make arrangements to donate my body so that scientists could study why I was so unlucky. Fortunately, the third time was a charm because the next opinion saved my life.
The plan was aggressive chemotherapy coupled with testing for an immediate stem cell transplant. Treatment was tough: allergic reactions, infections, nausea, and my body basically burning me from the inside out were just some of the side effects. Ultimately though, we beat the odds. I am now over 8 years post-transplant, living a healthy, "normal" life with my family and watching my two girls grow up.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) played two huge roles in my miraculous survival. The first was financial aid: my transplant required me to have an apartment in Seattle, which was very expensive. LLS provided financial relief for me and my family, which took a huge amount of pressure off my recovery.
The second way LLS helped literally saved my life. After my transplant, I came down with an infection called CMV. Because my immune system was so compromised, I was required to take a self-administered, 10-day chemo regimen, easy to administer with no side effects. After I completed the regimen, I was told that had I received my transplant 10 years earlier, a CMV infection would have killed me. How had this highly-effective treatment been discovered? Through a grant funded by LLS.
I can't stress enough just how much your gift matters. Because of generous donations like yours, LLS can fund life-saving breakthroughs and amazing services that allow families like mine to worry less about surviving and focus on thriving. No words can adequately express my family's gratitude for everything your dollars have done, and everything LLS does for patients and families.
Thank you for making such a life-changing impact on people like me and my family. Generosity like yours has given me eight years of memories, with many more to come.
Sincerely, Ryan Kiggins
To change lives like Ryan's for the better and create more memories for families, please consider a gift to LLS
and donate at this link by December 31st: https://donate.lls.org/lls/donate
December 12, 2016
As a healthy teenager, “you have cancer” is never what you expect to hear. About a month after my seventeenth birthday, my whole body was feeling horrible. I was covered in bruises, I couldn’t get enough energy to do simple activities or go out with friends. I went to Urgent Care at Seattle Children’s hoping for the best but expecting the worst. My blood was checked and came back indicating that I either had a blood disorder or leukemia. I had to come back the next day for a Bone Marrow Aspiration. That was when I got the worst news possible - I was diagnosed with a rare, fast-growing, aggressive type of blood cancer called Burkitt’s leukemia on August 21st, 2015.
6 rounds of chemotherapy, 20+ spinal taps, over 60 nights spent in the hospital, 5 trips to the E.R including 1 night in the ICU (where they thought I was going into septic shock), appointments 3-4 times a week. It was a whole new world for me. I became friends with my doctors/nurses and spent more time at the hospital than at home.
About a month after I started treatment, no cancer cells were found! I still had to continue treatment for another 5 months. On January 11, 2016, I was cancer free and finished with chemotherapy. Looking back, I was always positive and smiling. A cancer diagnosis is horrible but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. I’m now volunteering with people that are going through what I went through. I appreciate life so much more than I used to, knowing it can change so fast.
I truly love life and I wouldn’t be the positive, happy person that I am today if I never went through this battle.
A HUGE thank you to LLS for doing so much for cancer patients and the fight to find a cure.
To join LLS in our fight, and to help blood cancer patients like Alix live better, longer lives, please consider a donation this holiday season...it truly makes a difference! Click here: https://donate.lls.org/lls/donate
November 10, 2016
This Fall 2016 is my fourth season with Team in Training. The 2016 Chicago Marathon was my 4th full marathon with TNT, but since joining TNT, I’ve run 8 additional ½ marathon races on my own (I kinda caught the running bug!)
Honestly, I joined TNT because a friend and I signed up at a promo table at an event because the LLS rep waived our registration fees. I figured, “why not?” I was not a runner, nor did I have a personal connection to blood cancer. But I did have a family history with other types of cancer and I was looking for a way to give back that didn’t involve planning auctions and galas as I had done in the past. Through the season, I learned just how much research on blood cancers funded through LLS has progressed the work being done on other types of cancers as well. When the friend that I had signed up with backed out two weeks into the season, I decided to stay on.
My favorite aspect of Team in Training is the opportunity to give back and contribute to an amazing cause, but also personally get so much more in return: renewed energy through exercise, confidence through fitness, camaraderie through my coaches and teammates, a sense of accomplishment at the finish line and a sense of giving back to an undeniably amazing cause. Everything we do in TNT is tied back to the mission – as participants, we never forget the cause that’s pulled us together or the way that our efforts are changing lives.
For me, I am inspired by how it’s all about the community. It’s my teammates, mentors, and coaches whose physical, mental and emotional support knows no end. It’s everyone who contributes a mission moment and their incredible resilience that keeps us motivated throughout the season and beyond. It’s all of the incredible donors that come out of the woodwork and how their personal connections to cancer also become my own. After four years of participating in Team in Training, friends and family have stopped asking whether I’m signing up again and instead asking which race is next on my list. In a way, it’s become part of my identity.
A reason to join… I was never a runner. Not even close. Now I can't imagine not running. Team in Training offers a supportive community with a wide variety of skill levels. Having the Team makes running a social sport and keeps you accountable. If you're ever going to fall in love with running, it's going to be with a group like this. Overall, I'd advise anyone to jump into it and try it out. The program is built to give you the structure, support and motivation to succeed. You'll be surprised at how much you can do and how much you'll improve over the course of the season.
To learn more about Team In Training and to save lives by joining, click here TODAY! www.teamintraining.org
November 4, 2016
My name is Krista Weeks, and I am a fire department chaplain in Washington State serving the Tri-City area. My daughter Nicole and I are pictured in the photo above. Unfortunately our story starts before she and my son, Steven, were born. My children never had the chance to meet my Uncle, their Great Uncle, Louis Duett, who was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of Leukemia in 1987. Little was known about blood cancers back then, and medical treatment was not to the level necessary to treat my uncle. He lost his courageous battle with Leukemia in 1988.
I can only imagine how families feel when this disease strikes one of their children, a spouse, or another family member. I can only imagine the fear, pain, and worry about what the future holds for them and can only compare those feelings to the loss and sadness my own family experienced.
Within the last few years, my neighbor’s beautiful little girl, Morgan, was diagnosed at the age of 7. My co-worker, Dean, also received his diagnosis. Thankfully, ongoing advancements in medicine today has resulted in a more effective means of treatment, and I am happy to report both are in remission.
During this time I have been greatly inspired by the members of the Richland Fire Department, who annually conduct numerous fundraising events for LLS and participate in the Scott Seattle Firefighter Stairclimb. In watching their dedication and commitment to this important cause, I looked at myself and decided I can also get out and help in any way I can. It is the least I can do for my Uncle who I wish was still here with us today, and help provide hope as well as comfort to others to let them know they are not in this battle alone. There will be a cure!
Registration for the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb begins at 9am on November 9th...register early because it will sell out! http://www.llswa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ff_home
|Colton's Army - Big Climb Top Fundraising Team & SURVIVOR Colton Matter
October 31, 2016
This will be team Colton’s Army 8th year in a row climbing for a CURE at the LLS Big Climb. We started as a team of 20 back in 2010 when my son, Colton, was 9 years old and had a bright future ahead with not a worry in sight….until out of the clear blue, we learned that he had a silent killer pumping through his blood and throughout his body, Leukemia. To say we were shocked is an understatement, to say we were broken is an understatement, no one could ever be prepared to hear that your child has cancer and it would require poisons to cure him, but when that’s your only choice to beat cancer…you just do it!
Each year our ORANGE hearted team of warriors has grown and each year we continue to raise a ruckus against cancer – for Colton, for our friends who have battled and won and for too many friends who have battled and earned their angel wings. We approach each year as if it is our last year to have to do THIS – because we hope and pray so deeply that our ruckus will help bring the CURE that we so desperately need and that you need too (even if cancer hasn’t touched your life yet…unfortunately, it will with time).
To date, Colton’s Army has raised over $500,000 supporting the heroic efforts of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and we aren’t done yet. When people ask me why we climb, why we keep going…WHY?
It’s easy to come up with a hundred reasons….and IF you have done the Big Climb before you know the hundred reasons that I am talking about. The posters in the stairwells are not actors, they are not models…..they are REAL LIFE people who were just like you and me not too long ago, healthy and not living a life of fear and battling cancer. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but IF you could do SOMETHING TODAY to make it better for a loved one or even a stranger, wouldn’t you do it?
I know I would and that is why Colton’s Army is not done yet….there still isn’t a CURE and we need a CURE! Our Colton is now in remission and we pray that it is his ‘forever remission’ but I will tell you that he still takes chemotherapy pills once a day and twice on Fridays, he goes to the hospital 1-2 times per month for blood draws, doctors appointments and infusions of chemotherapy, he gets a bone marrow aspiration once every 3 months to make sure his cancer hasn’t reared its ugly head again….and yet, to see him living as a normal 16 year old is the most beautiful, hopeful image any of us can imagine….remission is not a cure though unfortunately we know this first hand with Colton relapsing 5 times since his diagnosis…we need to climb, to fight, to fundraise, to NOT settle….
If you’ve been on the fence about IF you should climb this year….I hope you find it in your heart to DO SOMETHING about cancer with us! Colton’s Army invites you, encourages you, and challenges you to climb those 1,311 stairs for a CURE with us and raise a ruckus with US! Climbing those stairs is a small sacrifice compared to what each of those stairwell heroes go through to beat cancer….this is a way for us to help.
Sign up for Big Climb TODAY and DO SOMETHING about cancer...Climb, Conquer, Cure! http://www.llswa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=bc_home
Mona Leppell, Big Climb Participant, Volunteer, Supporter, Matt's mama
October 13, 2016
Through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society we will keep Matt's fight alive!!
December 21, 2009 My son Matt Leppell was diagnosed with Leukemia (ALL) at the age of 23. I remember this day so clearly, I thought Matt had the flu so we went to E.R. After blood work and waiting in a private room the Dr. came in and said "You have cancer". My heart dropped and so did Matt's. I said "How do you know?" he said "It's in his blood". I had no idea what that even meant at the time. I just remember Matt saying "Why me?". What do you even say to your son at that point? Matt's 9 month journey began that day, just days before Christmas. Matt was athletic, handsome, funny, loving. He was a volunteer firefighter for East Olympia Fire Department. He was a Professional wrestler for I.C.W. Wrestling out of Washington, Oregon and Canada. How could this happen? My son had so much to live for, he was just beginning his life on his own.
Our family watched Matt suffer more than anyone should ever have to suffer. He had so many complications, one including the Flesh eating bacteria. The chemo was so strong that Matt had a hole in his colon which spread. They removed Matt's ab-muscle, all the tissues across his abdomen. Matt was going daily to surgery. They told us noone could survive this and have Leukemia. Matt did and went on to have skin graphting. The Dr's. were amazed. I heard Doctors saying "Matt was like no other".
You see my son was a fighter, he never gave up. He always kept a smile on his face and made other's laugh, even when he was so sick. Matt was in remission and we were so happy and looking forward to a transplant, his brother Jonny was a perfect match. I remember the Drs. saying "Matt would be home for Thanksgiving". Then a couple of months later, Matt's colon acted up again, he had to endure a 9 hour surgery to remove half of it. I stood over him one night and my tear drop fell on his forehead, Matt said "mama are you crying?" I said "yes" trying to hide my sadness. He grabbed my hand and said "I love you mama".
We still had hope, never giving up. But in July, after Matt's birthday we found out the cancer had returned.
The chemo caused so many more complications. Putting Matt back in I.C.U. He went in for a procedure to check his lungs and he never fully awoke again. A couple of times he yelled "Mama", but he couldn't speak.
We lost our courageous son on September 15, 2010. The hardest day of my life!
This is the reason, I keep Matt's fight alive here on earth. So no other family has to lose a child, for those that are fighting right now and for those who will be diagnosed in the future.
Through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Matt's fight continues here on earth!! No family should have to lose a child. This is why it is so important to me! Matthew Brady Leppell 7/28/1986 - 9/15/2010 Our Son, Our hero, Always Remembered, Never forgotten! I will continue your fight!! Love, mama
Mona lovingly raises funds for Big Climb every year in memory of her son, Matt, to find cures faster. You can also participate by registering on Thursday, October 27 - be sure to mark the date as the event sells out in hours: http://www.llswa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=bc_home
October 13, 2016
Those close to me know that I am a childhood cancer survivor. I fought and beat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma when I was 8 years old. What I learned from this experience was that you don't always get to choose your battles, but that you only get to choose how you fight your battles.
My cancer was a complicated mature T-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that showed up in my sinuses in October of 2012. The disease took nearly four months to diagnose, and 6 months of chemotherapy treatment at Children's Hospital in Seattle to beat.
What got me through my cancer was the fact that I was an athlete, I understood what it meant to compete, and I was surrounded by many teams. I understood practice, dedication, character, and commitment and I applied these traits to beating a disease instead of an opponent. And because I was an athlete, immediately after beating cancer, I returned to gymnastics, swimming, and softball and I never looked back.
Now, four years later, my focus in life continues. I am still an athlete, I still enjoy trying new sports, I will always be a cancer survivor, and I am still committed to beating this disease.
As a cancer survivor, I believe in the importance of living every day and giving back to help others beat cancer. Over the last three years I have worked with my local fire department, sports teams, and schools to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I just started middle school this September and I am still committed to helping make a difference for others.
This summer I have been working with LLS's Light the Night campaign and I am working to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society reach their $800,000 fundraising goal. I have shared my story with executives from Swedish Hospital, local news announcers, board members from LLS, and other cancer survivors who also believe in fighting back. I have met with all the managers and corporate executives from Washington state Walgreens stores, I have met with Seattle Genetics, and I have spoken to many more business leaders whose names I am still learning.
My message has been simple. If we all work together we can and will beat cancer. We cannot be afraid of the word cancer and we have to talk about this disease. We have to believe this disease is one we can overcome and we have to join together and do something about it.
So I am going to ask everybody I know to donate $20 to help beat this stupid disease. I know twenty dollars is a lot, but I also know that I am still losing friends to cancer. So I have a choice: lead, follow, or get out of the way. And most of you know, I have no plans of getting out of the way. I will walk this October in Seattle and represent all of you. Let's all be part of a bigger team and beat cancer together.
Anne is an honored hero for our Greater Washington Light The Night walk, taking place on October 22nd at The Seattle Center. To donate to her efforts, please go to: http://pages.lightthenight.org/wa/SeattleL16/AEdwards
September 21, 2016
At 16, Emily never expected to be diagnosed with cancer. She was healthy, active and had a clear picture of where her life was going. After consistent fevers and constantly feeling tired, she decided to get tested for mono. Several tests later, Emily and her family received the news that she had Stage II Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Throughout her six months of intensive treatment including surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation she was able to show that humans are all capable of accomplishing the unthinkable if we are pushed to the limit. Even though Emily was no longer able to attend school with her peers, she was able to complete her classes at home and even received a 3.8 GPA! Emily also ran for her school's Senior Class President during treatment and won!
During treatment, Emily noticed a disconnect between the hospital and teenage oncology patients and started a fund to create a center where teens with cancer can experience a bit of normalcy and be around other patients their own age. Emily was awarded the 2010 Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy award and was featured in Detroit Crain's Business Magazine. This article captured the attention of the Ronald McDonald House, and together they created rolling carts of entertainment for teen patients.
Emily never saw herself as a survivor, but rather someone who received a gift in a different type of package. At 16, she learned how fragile and how precious life really is. Despite the discomfort and distress, her cancer diagnosis became the most enriching experience of her life. She now views herself as someone who is able to discern between what's really important and what's not.
Emily is an honored hero for our Greater Washington Light The Night walk, taking place on October 22nd at The Seattle Center. Please join us for this unforgettable evening! To register and for more details, please click here: http://www.lightthenight.org/wa/
September 14, 2016
I’m Pamela Rose. We live in Monroe, WA.
In 1998 I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The Lymphoma was discovered when my Thyroid had to be removed due to a Goiter. It is very rare that Lymphoma is in a Goiter. I had 1 round of Radiation at that time.
I was in remission until 2001 then the disease reoccurred worse than before. I immediately started a round of Chop Chemo. I was in remission again this time for only 6 months.
Again the disease reoccurred in 2002 and I started a round of ICE Chemo with Ratazon. I was then in remission for a very short time.
When the disease reoccurred again, my Oncologist Dr. Carol vanHaelst and I started to discuss the possibly of Stem Cell Transplant. She transferred me to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance where they started the work up for transplant. The Doctors started a round of Bumelt Chemo to kill any remaining Cancer cells. Then they harvested my own Stem Cells. On September 11, 2003 I received my transplant. I was then in the Hospital for 17 days. It took me one year to return close to “normal” daily activities.
What life was like during the year of recuperation? I had daily doctor’s appointments for 100 days. I was unable to eat. I lost 70 pounds in this process. I slept a lot. I was isolated due to a Suppressed Immune System. At Thanksgiving I insisted on making dinner for my family. I did, but then slept for 3 days.
Some of the treatments I had were Bone Marrow Biopsy, Spinal Tap, blood transfusions, CT Scans, PT Scans. I had many ports and 2 or 3 Hickman lines. My Spleen was removed due to Lymphoma. E Shots and G Shots to build up my White cells and bone marrow.
I was told early in my treatment that if I had this diagnosis 10 years earlier I would not have survived. I am alive today as a result of Cancer Research. I will be a 13 year survivor on September 11, 2016.
To help fund critical research to create more survivors like Pam, please consider donating to LLS during Blood Cancer Awareness Month - our goal is to raise $300,000 for patients and families!
June 14, 2016
My journey with Team In Training began in 1993, when I fundraised, and ran the Honolulu Marathon with the WA/AK LLS Chapter. Since then, I have been an annual fundraising participant. I served as coach for the first Bellingham, WA TNT team in 1996, resuming that role in 2003. I had no personal connection to blood cancers when I first joined TNT. In 1997, my father, Don Allen, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He died 2 ½ years later. At about the same time, Dad’s cousin, Eddie Schneider, was accepted into the clinical trials for Gleevec, a drug which gave him 18 more years of life.
As a marathoner, I have enjoyed the sense of community in local marathons, the uniqueness of a Sister City's marathon in Japan, and the thrill of the Boston and New York City marathons. What I have experienced in over 20 years with TNT has given me much more than a sense of individual accomplishment. I have met courageous cancer patients and survivors, and heard their incredible stories. I have made lasting friendships with fellow TNT teammates and coaches. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of donors. I have learned what it is like to watch a loved one travel from diagnosis, to treatments, and to lose the fight. I also have seen how cures can and do happen. I have witnessed how the ripple effect of "Team in Training" on participants, honored teammates, friends, families, and strangers goes on and on.
In 2008, we purchased “Pearl”, our 2004, Subaru Outback, L.L.Bean Edition, with about 70,000 miles on her. She has reliably taken me to years worth of TNT practices, mostly in the winter, in all kinds of weather. She has transported supplies for countless water stops, and taken me safely to many events. She now has over 200,000 miles on her odometer and is still going strong!
Terry shared her story with us as part of the Subaru Loves to Care promotion, where Subaru is partnering with LLS to spread love and hope around communities.
To learn more, click here: http://www.lls.org/someday-is-today
March 2, 2016
It was the day after completing the 2015 Scott Firefighter Stairclimb that I experienced my first symptoms. Several days of moderate abdominal pain led to tests, and more tests, and within a few weeks, a diagnosis of stage 4 Mantle Cell Lymphoma. I now understood why climbing those stairs was so much more difficult than previous years!
Mantle Cell Lymphoma is a rare, chronic, incurable (but treatable) form of Non-Hodgkin’s B Cell Lymphoma that usually afflicts older men. I was a 45 year old father of two teenagers and definitely not ready for this. After doing some initial research on my own, I found that I was feeling more than a little dismayed by the short life expectancy and bleak prognosis with this disease. I learned pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to get much good news from the internet. Life plans and perspective change significantly when faced this diagnosis but I remained confident that I would respond well to treatment make the best of a bad situation.
I selected Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for my treatment and have benefited from having a top tier team managing my care. I underwent six rounds of fairly intense chemotherapy over about a four month period. Thanks in part to tremendous support from my family, the Bellevue Fire Department, neighbors and my fellow firefighters I had all the assistance I needed. I tolerated the treatments well and was able to continue working as a firefighter for most of this time. I think my physical and mental health benefited tremendously from being motivated to maintain a reasonable level of fitness and keep busy throughout my treatment. Some would say I was too stubborn but I still think it helped.
And the treatments worked! In august I was re-staged and my cancer was in a complete remission. Not cured, but not detectable at this time. My medical care team at SCCA recommended an autologous stem cell transplant to further consolidate the remission and give me as many cancer free years as possible. Proceeding with the transplant was a very difficult decision for me. It was believed that the transplant would help, but there is not enough data available to really quantify how much it would help, and the procedure comes with significant risks. After much consideration I realized I couldn’t decline a treatment that might keep me alive longer no matter how difficult the process was expected to be.
In October of 2015 I had the stem cell transplant. It knocked me on my derriere for a solid month! But as November came to pass I was able to begin resuming physical activity and light exercise. In December I was able to return to work in a modified duty capacity and in January I returned to full duty doing the job I love as a Bellevue Firefighter! My fitness level is improving daily and I look forward to beating last year’s time in the 2016 Scott Firefighter Stairclimb benefitting LLS! Of course I also realize how lucky I am to be well enough today to even consider participating in this event.
There are many challenges ahead, but I appreciate the support I have received and remain positive about my future.
To read more bout Eric and his incredible fundraising efforts, visit his page: http://www.llswa.org/site/TR/Events/FirefighterStairclimb;jsessionid=B7DBC406973E8811AC59B98248F80593.app304c?px=1577366&pg=personal&fr_id=1500
The 25th Annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb takes place on March 6th, 2016 at the Columbia Center Tower.
February 23, 2016
As a firefighter, I've always been one to want to try to make a difference in the world. Not save the world, just make an impact on a person, perhaps several people, even if that positive impact is of short duration. I have been supporting the Seattle Stairclimb for about 10 years. At first it was to once again give my time and energy to making a difference and this time to help find a cure for blood diseases. I loved the event. So much positive energy. So many people gathered for one common cause. And a great physical challenge.
The perspective of the event all changed December 20, 2013 when I found out I was now my own poster boy for the Stairclimb. I was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). Like all people that get a cancer diagnosis, there were some tough times that followed for myself and my wife. But the good news is that I have the "good" leukemia and am relatively symptom free at this time. This is my final year of doing the Stairclimb, as I retire from the fire service the month after the climb. I've raised over $25,000 myself over the years. This year my goal is to raise $10,000. My hope is that one day a cure is found for all blood cancers and this event is no longer needed.
To help Mark reach his amazing fundraising goal, donate to his page: http://www.llswa.org/site/TR/Events/FirefighterStairclimb;jsessionid=B7DBC406973E8811AC59B98248F80593.app304c?px=1806523&pg=personal&fr_id=1500
The 25th Annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb takes place on March 6th, 2016 at the Columbia Center Tower.
February 19, 2016
My connection with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society started in 2006, my first year as a volunteer firefighter with the North Highline Fire District. That year, the daughter of one of our fire commissioners was selected as the honoree for the annual firefighter stairclimb for LLS. She was a lymphoma survivor. Our department rallied around her and we fielded a team of 15 firefighters to climb the stairs (I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know anything about leukemia or lymphoma or even what blood cancer was.) That stairclimb was one of the most difficult and physically challenging events that I ever participated in, and I raised $2,025 for the climb. I climbed again in 2007 and raised $4,575. In 2008, the 1-year old nephew of one of our firefighters was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia). We again donned our gear, raised money and climbed stairs for this organization called LLS. At this point, with my third year of climbing, I was seeing the personal connections of leukemia and lymphoma. Through fundraising efforts and reaching out to friends, clients and work colleagues, people shared stories with me about their dads, their daughters, their cousins, their friends who were diagnosed with blood cancer, some of whom survived and some of whom did not. My annual climbing of stairs became about them, in honor and memory of my friends and the people that they loved – Maddy, Caleb, Deanna, Dan, Jamen. I kept climbing and continued to raise money for LLS.
Ultimately, I was directly personally impacted too – in 2013 my 15-year old nephew Bradley was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma (survived) and in 2015 my friend Jimmy died from leukemia. With all of the stair climbing and raising money, in 2012 I decided that I wanted to be more actively involved in LLS and I sought out an opportunity to join the Board of Trustees. I was hopeful that with my perspective as a volunteer firefighter and stair climber, and my skills and connections as a full-time attorney at Cairncross & Hempelmann, a Seattle law firm, I might be able to contribute to the Board. I am proud to be part of LLS and to serve on the Board. The passion, humanity and energy and knowledge of the staff, volunteers, patients and Board members is humbling and contagious. I have learned so much about blood cancers. I have learned that you cannot screen for blood cancers and there is no preventative action; rather, it is all about treatment. I have learned about the many services and resources that LLS provides to patients and their families. I have learned about LLS’s funding of research efforts and the amazing research results (including that some drugs developed for blood cancers are being used with success for other types of cancer), and the dramatic improvements in survival rates over the past 10 and 30 years. It shows me how important fundraising efforts are and that research works. It is making a difference.
This year is my 10th year of climbing stairs. This year I climb in memory of my high school biology teacher, Jake Miller, who died in January 2016 from lymphoma. To date, from my first climb until now, I have raised almost $75,000. It is contagious and I will continue to climb stairs, and raise money, and be involved with LLS. I want to make a difference.
If you would like to support Tim and his incredible fundraising efforts, please visit his page at www.llswa.org/site/TR/Events/FirefighterStairclimb?px=1462865&pg=personal&fr_id=1500. The 25th Annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb takes place on March 6th, 2016 at the Columbia Center Tower.
November 25, 2015
Just after being a flower girl for her Aunt & Uncle's wedding, we noticed a change in our 3-year old Lucy. No energy, she would cry when we picked her up... things like that. She just wanted to sit, cuddle, and watch her brothers and sisters play. On June 22, 2012, we took her to the doctor where Lucy was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. They told us to go to Seattle Childrens immediately - the oncology team of doctors was waiting for us. We were scared, to say the least, but confident that everything would be alright.
After the first phase of treatment, doctors confirmed that Lucy was not in remission yet, and she was moved from the Standard Plan to High-Risk/Slow Responder category. I will never forget that consultation with the doctors at Childrens, and the fear we felt not knowing if Lucy would ever get better. While Lucy started the next round of treatments, we had the other children in the family tested to see if they were potential matches for a bone marrow transplant. (Lucy is the 7th of our nine children.) Thankfully Lucy did not end up needing the transplant, though she still lost all her hair, her appetite, had to have a feeding tube, and endured months away from her home and family. We had never been separated and away from home like that, so it was heart-breaking - but Lucy always seemed to keep her spirits up. One of our favorite jokes was how many bowls of Cheerios she could eat when she took her steroids... and she may be the best artist in the family for all the time she spent coloring pictures.
The great news? Lucy kept improving, and finished her last chemo in October 2014! She is now a happy, healthy 1st grader - one year post treatment - and gets to do all the wonderful things that kids should do. 50 years ago, our Lucy would have lost her battle with leukemia. There just weren't any treatment options available for kids like her. Thanks to the LLS, there have been such huge improvements that ALL now has a 90 percent survivor rate!
We are forever grateful to the LLS and all those who helped us during those difficult times. We couldn't have done it alone.
-Jenni Boyd, Mother
Please consider supporting LLS this #GivingTuesday and helping to save lives not Someday, but Today: http://www.lls.org/givingtuesday
November 5, 2015
On October 10, 2009, when he was 21 months old, Ryan was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, or AML. Being so small at the time, he had no understanding of what was happening or how rare and precarious his situation was.
On October 11, 2009, his mom and dad and the rest of his family made a decision. They decided that Ryan would never look into the faces of those he loved and depended on and see fear, or pity, or sorrow. Ryan’s friends and family knew that he would learn how to deal with his diagnosis and treatment in the way he was shown by others. It was a very conscious decision that anyone who came into contact with Ryan would only display strength, love, compassion, and most of all, positive energy and hope for the future.
Ryan’s various treatment phases came and went, and ultimately he received a bone marrow transplant on Thanksgiving Day of 2010. Team Ryan gave thanks indeed! Throughout this journey, Ryan has soaked up all that strength, love, compassion and hope, and has blossomed into quite a remarkable little man. His parents attribute this in equal parts to excellent medical care, but also the spirit and support of Team Ryan, Ryan’s friends and family, who are truly the most unbelievably loving and generous group of people on this planet.
During Ryan’s first round of chemotherapy at Seattle Children’s, his dad Mark was recruited by a few members of Team Ryan, close friends, to participate in the Winter Pineapple Classic. At the time, it seemed a good way to alleviate some of the stress of the situation and to actively DO something to fight the disease invading Ryan’s little body. The event itself seemed like a great fit for Team Ryan. “Have fun, get dirty, and join the fight against blood cancers.”
Since then, seeing Ryan and other children benefit from so many of the advances funded by the LLS, supporting the fundraising efforts through the Winter Pineapple Classic have become even more important to Team Ryan. Survival rates of those sharing Ryan’s diagnosis continue to improve, miraculous treatments like the bone marrow transplant are continually refined and made safer and more successful, and patients undergoing treatment can expect a better quality of life overall as a result of the work of the LLS.
Ryan thanks you from the bottom of his full, happy heart for your involvement in this event and your support of this amazing event!
-Mark Peterson & Re-Remission for Ryan
Re-Remission for Ryan has raised over $100,000 for the 10th anniversary of Winter Pineapple Classic...if you would like to donate to this amazing team, please click on the link: www.llswa.org/site/TR/Events/WinterPineappleClassic?team_id=61610&pg=team&fr_id=1452
AND - there's still time to participate in Winter Pineapple Classic: have fun, get dirty, save lives and register here! www.llswa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pc_home
October 30, 2015
I can honestly say that LLS, and in particular TNT, has influenced almost every aspect of my life. From my health, to my career to my friends, to my recreation, travel and to a certain extent even my husband is because of TNT.
Before TNT I was lazy, overweight, a self-proclaimed couch potato, without a clear career path. After TNT I have a job that I created for myself, a healthy body (well, maybe not as healthy after some injuries…but) close friends that I adore and a husband I love. How did this all come about? From one TNT solicitation email.
A friend who lives across the country emailed me a story of her father and brother-in-law who were both battling blood cancers. And of course this story came with a donation request. She was training for a marathon. I knew her to also be overweight with not a care about exercise. I was impressed, donated a small amount and did not think anything else of it, until she started sending all of her donors training updates and then the story of her very first marathon. I was weeping along side with her as she crossed that finish line in Anchorage.
I signed up for TNT the next day. My father was just getting done with his battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and I had a cousin from Florida who came here when she was little when she was getting world-class treatment at the Hutch and I have memories of staying with her in the hospital overnight, trying to keep her occupied and focused on other things. I thought if my friend could do it, so could I.
I started training, for what I thought was a half marathon, little did I know how many miles a full marathon was. Well, the long and the short of it was I finished the first of 12 marathons that year with the help of amazing TNT coaches.
Over the years I have met the best people through TNT, some of my closest friends are from TNT. The picture that I sent my husband when we first started emailing back and forth (ah, internet dating) was a running picture in a TNT shirt (I think that is what made him fall in love with me!).
Then during the 2008 economic downturn I got laid off from a job that I was not really happy with anyhow, I was heartbroken for about 2 minutes. While I was on unemployment I was still fundraising for LLS and I thought rather than ask the same donors over and over again I would throw an event for my fundraising. I decided to put on a 5K, why not!? A Halloween 5K called Run Scared. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing that first year, but I had a blast and I raised way over my fundraising minimum. That was at the tail end of my unemployment and I thought, “Could I do this for a living!?” I crunched some numbers and decided to make the plunge.
I started Run for Good Racing Co. with the intention of putting on professional races but with a heavy fundraising focus. That was 8 years ago and Run Scared is still going strong having raised well over $50,000 for the cause. We now produce about 10 events each year.
Come join us on October 31st at Seward Park to see what its all about. Festivities include a pre-race scavenger hunt with prizes, a free kids dash, candy at the half way mark, pumpkin bread at the finish line, an epic costume contest, candy corn tasting bar, and a live DJ spinning the tunes. www.runscared5k.com for more details. Not a runner or walker but still want to support our efforts? Consider a donation: http://events.lls.org/pages/wa/runscared5k
October 8, 2015
In Memory of my Dad, James R. Owen Jr.
Greeneville, TN – Seattle, WA
My father was the strongest person I ever met, working on a 20 acre farm in the hills of Tennessee which he built with his own two hands, putting up fence posts and rustling cows. So when I got the call in October 2007 that dad was sick and I needed to come home, I was shocked. The doctors said he had cancer in his spleen, and so they removed it along with some cancerous polyps they found in his colon. He got a little better after the surgery, moved to a rehab hospital, after which I came back to Seattle, while my aunt stayed with him to nurse him back to health.
Then I got the call again in late November that dad had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of Lymphoma. He was offered home hospice care at which time I was asked to help my aunt take care of him for an indefinite amount of time. I of course immediately flew to Tennessee the first of December, and began researching T-Cell Lymphoma treatment options. I learned about mini-transplants, which offers reduced levels of chemotherapy and radiation, so I asked if dad would be a candidate. Dad never gave up, so he decided to make the 4 hour trip to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville to get a second opinion and to be evaluated by experts on his options. It was a long and painful trip, but we were very hopeful. Immediately upon arrival they began giving him blood transfusions.
After more than a week of in-patient treatment, he continued to decline. The doctor and his team decided to discontinue treatment and sent him to an in-patient hospice hospital, where he passed away peacefully on 12/31/07. I am honored that dad chose me to come and be by his side during his journey. It brought us closer together, and I gained strength from him.
The experience reminded me how short life is and to live it to the fullest. We received an outpouring of support from family and friends, for which I will always be grateful. Soon after that experience, I began soul searching to make a career change and to follow my passion and make a difference which led me in May 2013 to come to work for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society where I can make a difference and honor my father’s memory. I keep his picture on my desk so that when I’m working hard, long hours, he reminds me of our mission…to win… so that cancer loses…and that Someday is Today!
If you would like to donate to Victoria's Light The Night fundraising efforts in honor of her father, please click on this link: http://pages.lightthenight.org/wa/SeattleL15/VWenick
September 24, 2015
Late April 2013 I received that dreaded and heart stopping call from my doctor telling me that I had cancer. I was in the middle of a class working towards my naturopathic medical degree. I stepped out of the class for a second when the call came through, knowing it was likely to be the information I had spent what felt like an eternity waiting for. Anyone who has ever dealt with any medical situation knows that waiting is the hardest part because you play out each every bad scenario in your head. I don’t recall too much about the conversation with my doctor, but do remember a numb sensation spreading throughout my body as my worst fears were confirmed. I had lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, to be specific. The same cancer my identical twin sister was diagnosed with not two months before me.
The following months are a bit of a blur. Doctor visits, fertility preservation, and the start of an 8 week chemotherapy regimen followed by a two week radiation regimen. During all of this I continued going to classes and doing my clinical rotations in medical school. It is only because of my loving friends and understanding professors that I was able to maintain a full time course load and go through chemo treatments. I was able to re-arrange my schedule to fit in the weekly chemo treatments and endless doctors visits. I had many people ask me why I did not want to take time off school and focus on my health. It was a great question; one I would have asked someone else in my shoes. The truth is when you go through cancer you want to hold on to the things you love and try to hold on to any semblance of normal. That's what medical school was for me. Being a doctor and helping people had been my goal for a long time and something I truly love doing. Being able to continue working towards that lifelong goal and dream is one thing that helped me beat cancer.
With cancer the little things drop away, and the big things are what you worry about. “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” is a popular saying in our society, and it wasn’t until I faced something as big as lymphoma that I truly understand how to do that. In facing questions like will I ever recover, will I be the same person, and am I going to die- all the things that bothered you in everyday life before, drop off and truly become small things. The big things that matter are friends, family, and laughing as often as you can. The LLS is an amazing organization that also helped my family deal with the big stuff. Everyone who has gone through a severe illness knows that the medical bills can be almost as devastating as the disease. The LLS helped my sister with her medical bills and provided financial assistance. Another program that the LLS offers to cancer patients is a mentor program where a survivor is matched up with a newly diagnosed patient to help teach them what to expect throughout treatment. I had a person like this in my life when I was newly diagnosed and the comfort of having someone who had gone through the treatment and came out on the other side healthy and happy was so helpful. Not only did she tell me what to expect, but she taught me how to tie a head scarf, wear a wig properly, and what candy to suck on during chemo to help with the awful taste in your mouth.
I chose to go into naturopathic medicine, because it gives me more options to offer to my patients. Many people have taken a medication that resulted in worse side effects then the issue they were taking the medication for. Others have had chronic health conditions that have not been helped by conventional medicine. And yet others are just searching for something that is just gentler on their bodies. These are all things that having a degree in naturopathic medicine allows me to do and help patients with. However, it wasn’t until my body betrayed me with lymphoma that I realized the power of putting both natural and conventional medicine together. I did not hesitate in doing chemotherapy and radiation for my treatment and I took all the pharmaceutical medications to help with the side effects of chemo, but when those weren’t enough I turned to natural options as well. The combination of both is really what helped me tolerate the drowning fatigue, the sickening nausea, and the aching bone pain.
I have never discriminated against conventional medicine. As a primary care doctor I give my patients all the options open to them, both conventional and natural. At times an antibiotic is whats necessary, but also in the wake of so much antibiotic resistance it is important to educate my patients when it is not necessary or when there are other options to try first. This is just one example of what I do everyday in my life as a naturopathic doctor. Another aspect of my job that makes me thankful to have gone through the experience I did with cancer is understanding my patients better. With a betrayal like cancer it is hard to trust your body again. We are all human and that means that our bodies do weird things. We all experience things like a lump there, a weird sensation over here, and lab values from blood work that make no sense. However, when you’ve had cancer you no longer trust that these things are just part of being human and will work themselves out over time. You jump to the worst, because you know even though it’s rare that it would be cancer, it has happened before and in the back of every survivors mind is- what if it happens again? I understand this sometimes daily struggle with trusting your body again and hoping it won’t betray you a second time and as a doctor it is my job to help my patients answer that question everyday. Is this normal?
I struggle with that question all the time myself. I may even ask myself this question more often than others as I am not a survivor of one cancer, but two. Less than a year after beating lymphoma, I had a suspicious mole removed. Once again my worst fears were confirmed with that dreaded phone call- it was cancer. I must count my blessings, however, and thank my lucky stars that it was just melanoma in situ, and required no additional treatment other then cutting a large chunk out my arm and frequent future check ups at the dermatologists.
Cancer is not only devastating to the person who has it, but also to all those who surround that person. Those friends, partners, family members who are close to a cancer patient share in the heartache and powerlessness they experience. I am familiar with those feelings as well because my sister was going through treatment at the same time as myself. I was diagnosed with Stage II Hodgkin’s lymphoma and my sister was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In addition, my sister and the rest of my family lived in Wisconsin at the time, making being there infinitely harder. Unfortunately during my sisters treatment she had a major reaction to one of the chemotherapy drugs that badly damaged her lungs, and she was on a ventilator for 2 months in the ICU. Many weeks I would fly to Wisconsin to be next to my sisters bedside in between my own chemotherapy infusion. There was more than one time that I felt like I had to say goodbye to her before flying back to WA for my treatment, not being sure if she would make it until I saw her again. It was a hard time, but I can tell you being a family member of someone going through cancer was harder for me than being the patient. So when my own patients come in the door and tell me that a loved one is going through a medical crisis, I understand the heartbreak and devastation that goes with that.
Today I am happy to say that I have achieved my dream of becoming a doctor and currently see patients at Naturopathic Family Medicine. Though I do not see patients actively going through cancer treatment as it is just too hard for me to face all those emotions it brings up- I enjoy talking to patients about cancer prevention and ways to get your body back after cancer. I am ecstatic to say I have been in remission for two years and even happier to say that my twin sister has been in complete remission for over a year and has since moved to Hawaii, enjoying all life has to offer.
Through all of this there has been many lessons I have learned. The most important of those lessons is when you are faced with the worst the only things that matter in life are those things that bring you the most joy. For me this was my partner, my family, my friends, and helping others by becoming a doctor. I learned how truly blessed I am and I learned to not take the rest of life too seriously. There will always be hard times. There will always be disappointments. If you wrap yourself in love and hope you will get through it all.
-Dr. Krystal Richardson, Survivor
Dr. Krystal Richardson is the brainchild of ‘Bite of Fremont’, a family-friendly fundraiser put on by Naturopathic Family Medicine to benefit LLS on September 26th at Fremont Abbey Arts Center. Tickets are still available – but going fast! – for this delicious way to give back, where you get to sample bites of appetizers,entrees, and desserts from premiere Fremont eateries – click here for more details and to purchase tickets
To help save lives while having a blast, check out our Community Events page for great upcoming events.