Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
In 1999 I had a lump on my neck, and after strong urging from my wife and my mother, I finally went to my family doctor. My white blood cell counts were really high, and antibiotics didn't help. Eventually, a biopsy indicated chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
I was 45 years old with sons who were 4 and 7 years old and a couple of teenage daughters. During my first appointment with my oncologist, I asked how long I would live, and she replied, "Maybe 10 years." I took her for her word, and the first thing that went through my head was that my boys would be 14 and 17 at best when I left this world. It was a very disturbing thought.
It took me several years to get used to the idea that I had cancer and that I would likely be dead by 2009. Eventually, I decided that I should make myself as healthy as possible to fight this chronic disease. I changed my diet drastically, eating and juicing many more vegetables, and I started running regularly to get in better shape. I discovered Team In Training (TNT) in 2005, thinking that the program would help me stay in shape, and the money that I raised might help with developing better treatments that might benefit me.
I did the Chicago Marathon with TNT, and I was hooked. In addition to staying in shape and raising money, I met the most inspiring people I had ever met, including many kids going through treatments for leukemia. I became a mentor for TNT teams and started doing two events a year. As of this year, I have done 30 TNT events and have raised over $90,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). I have also been involved in Light The Night Indianapolis, been on two Man and Woman of the Year teams, and I am currently on a Students of the Year team. I have been on the Indiana Board of Trustees since 2017. I have raised nearly $10,000 through these other non-TNT fundraising programs.
In 2013 my bone marrow was becoming saturated with cancerous blood cells, and I had to do six months of chemo (bendamustine) and RituxiMab treatments. I will probably need treatment again before too long, but I am doing pretty well right now for somebody who was supposed to only live 10 years from 1999. I believe that TNT/LLS has helped keep me alive with the constant inspiration I have gotten from others fighting blood cancers, many of them successfully but some of them losing their battles. I hope to continue doing TNT events and to be involved in LLS in the coming years, hoping that someday kids won't have to deal with blood cancers.