Thursday, July 17, 2008

Important Update

My friends,

There is so much to tell you about -- the First Annual Felafel Run, the first Team workouts, the latest members of the Honor Roll -- but I need to share this with you instead.

As you all know, I'm running my third NYC Marathon this year in honor of four-year-old Liam Witt, an amazing little boy I met last year who has been battling neuroblastoma. Thanks to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research and the money donated on behalf of Fred's Team runners from generous people like you, MSKCC has developed treatments that is helping Liam win his battle. As recently as twenty years ago, a boy Liam's age with neuroblastoma had a zero percent chance of survival.

Here is an excerpt from his mother Gretchen's latest blog entry, posted yesterday, about Liam's latest round of tests.

"I wanted to take a minute to update everyone on what we have learned this week as it relates to our dear Liam. During his routine follow up scans (every 90 days) an abnormality appeared on the CT scan. Further review and a look back at his April scans revealed that this small abnormality, that looked like nothing more than a shadow, was present then as well but had not grown in the interim. The fact that it was not seen on his April scans was not ideal but because it had not grown since then it is considered a good thing. It was enough of a concern though to his doctors that they ordered two additional types of scans to see if there was truly something present and if so to try and determine what it is. The scans all confirmed that there is some small growth present on his right kidney but they were inconclusive as to what it is. The concern stems from the fact this is the same kidney that was entangled in his original tumor, and though only about 3% of kids relapse in the original tumor location, its existence is unexpected and unwelcome. All of the other markers monitored to look for signs of relapse were negative and show no signs of new disease. Yet the fact is all of these markers can show negative and new tumor growth can be present, so for this reason Liam’s team of doctor’s feel it is necessary to go in and see exactly what this 1-2 centimeter spot truly is.

You might wonder why such an aggressive approach is being taken if no other signs point to a relapse. The reality is Liam’s type of cancer is very aggressive, as many of you know, and the doctors at MSKCC do not take anything for granted when fighting this beast... The surgery is scheduled for this Friday and Liam will be in the best surgeon’s hands. We are fortunate in that Dr. LaQuaglia will be doing the procedure and is considered one of the best pediatric surgeons in the world. He is the same surgeon who operated on Liam for 11 hours straight to resect his tumor last summer. It is likely Liam will be in the hospital from 3-7 days depending on how everything goes. If Liam has anything to say about it I think it will be closer to 3. Your support and understanding during this very difficult time will be appreciated more than you will ever know. We expect this to be nothing more than a small bump in the road; anything else is just simply unacceptable for all of us. Please pray and and send good wishes to Liam as our dear prince endures yet another unfair challenge. A challenge he is far to young to endure alone and one that breaks our hearts to see him have to face just as he was making such amazing progress on so many fronts and so full of wonder and energy."

It doesn't matter that the Marathon is in November; it is more crucial right now, for Liam's sake, to support MSKCC and the Aubrey Fund. I know that nothing I am doing in my training can begin to compare to what Liam and his family are facing, but if running myself into the ground -- literally -- is enough to get somebody to donate to my marathon effort, it will be worth it.

So please keep Liam and his family in your thoughts and prayers, and if you are so moved to support my marathon effort on Liam's behalf, please click on the links either to the right or bottom of the page. You can also read Gretchen's blog about Liam, "Prince Liam the Brave," and the organization she co-founded, Band of Parents, by clicking on those links.

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