Why do I run for Team in Training?
My story is different than others, for sure. In July 2011 our lives were turned upside down. We had 3 small children and were planning on going to Chicago for a vacation. I wasn't feeling well and my wife suggested that I go to the doctor. They ordered some blood work and the news we received was devastating… I had leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia to be exact.
Rushed into the hospital for treatment we found out it was very aggressive. When they did the bone marrow biopsy they found out that 80% of the white blood cells were cancerous. Acute myeloid leukemia can kill you in a matter of weeks if not treated. After two months of treatment, including aggressive rounds of chemotherapy, we got even worse news - I needed a bone marrow transplant and without one I had a 10% chance of surviving the year. The news was devastating and friends rallied around us. The journey over the next few years was an adventure like I've never experienced before in my life!
Unfortunately, my sister was not a good match for a transplant. My only alternative was to placed on the transplant list and pray for a match of which there is a one in a million chance. Then, just two weeks before Christmas 2011, the phone rang, a donor had been found. My transplant was scheduled for May 4 at Juravinsky Hospital in Hamilton.
Prior to my transplant I underwent six rounds of full body radiation and two concentrated doses of chemo at the end of April. The transplant itself was “rather uneventful.” The transplant is somewhat like a blood transfusion with the marrow going into my body through a shunt right into the heart.
The bone marrow grafted to my body in two weeks, which was great, but I had all these fevers and infections so I ended up being in isolation in Hamilton for a month. It was a really upsetting time. I had horrible side effects. I just remember saying; please get me through this.
I began running in the summer of 2013, starting with 5k and then a 10k. My first half marathon was the Chilly Half Marathon in Sarnia in February 2014.
Running has been a great help in my journey of healing. I run because I can and I run for those who can’t.
I will be putting together a series of stories pictures and videos highlighting how Team In Training impacted my life. I have asked friends to share their part of the story also. In October 2011 when I was my sickest and things looked desperate, two sisters ran the half marathon on my behalf at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and that blew me away! Following the race they both came to see me in the hospital, one of them gave me her finishers medal the other one gave me her Team In Training shirt!
Though the chances were one in a million, they found me a donor and I had a life saving stem cell transplant in May of 2012! There were many hurdles, but I got through it!
Early 2013 I was working out at the YMCA and ran into a friend who was the pastor of an inner city church. He came up with the idea of running a marathon in Anchorage Alaska, on my behalf. I said that sounds great, but we have to figure out a way for me to come also! It was a wild adventure with us being on the radio and him hosting a fundraiser, and we raised enough money for him and I to go as well as our oldest boys.
The trip to Alaska and seeing the Team In Training inspiration dinner, as well as the experience of Alaska, motivated me so strongly that I came home from that trip and started running myself!
I have had many friends to help me along the way. I fell in love with running and have done many races, I did my first half marathon February 2014, I ended up doing 7 half marathons that year, and kept running and training and I ran my first full marathon January 11, 2015 in Disney World!
Not only that, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was the charity of choice and I was able to share my story with 25,000 runners before the start of the half marathon alongside Mickey, Donald and Goofy! I got to share my story and explain how impactful team in training has been in my life.