Monday, June 29, 2009
And as you can see from the sidebar video, Fred's Team has a corporate sponsor this year -- Coca-Cola!
They are supplying us with Powerade and water for our workouts, as well as hydration advice and some other good stuff.
I am more than happy to thank them for their support of my Team by featuring their ads on my site.
Drink up, y'all!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Without further ado, many thanks to
bringing the total raised to far to
Can I ask you to help, by making a donation to my Fred's Team marathon effort, which goes directly to the Aubrey Fund, by clicking here? Over 80 percent of the money raised goes directly to patient care and research. In fact, the Aubrey Fund has paid for the research and treatment for Liam's cancer, and will continue to do so.
Unfortunately, if you read the NY Times today, there's an article about how, in this economy, most research grants are going to "safer" projects. Pediatric cancer, especially rarer cancers such as neuroblastoma, are critically underfunded anyway, and this is a major blow. The Aubrey Fund is literally a life-saver for children like Liam, the only place some doctors can turn to for funding the innovative treatments that have raised the survival rates for neuroblatoma from less than 20 percent to 60 percent in just 20 years. Every penny counts. So please, if you can make a donation, no matter how small, know that it is being put to excellent use.
Liam is doing well, he is back in chemo, and unfortunately, back in MSKCC, as he developed a fever. If you develop a fever while on chemo, you need to go to the hospital, because it could be so much more than just a spot of flu.
Here he is, playing with electricity.I was going to visit him last week, but I still have a cold that I am having trouble shaking, and that's something I don't want to share.
So it's been a crazy busy couple of weeks -- between work, and Broadway Bares, and starting rehearsals for SLEUTH, and finishing up my transcripts -- there hasn't been time for blogging, let alone running. And there's SO MUCH BACKLOG!!!!!
Here it is, in a nutshell:
BROOKLYN HALF -- I wasn't really trained for it -- and I really hope that doesn't become my mantra, as my mother says I have to break 4 hours this year -- but I figured what the hay. It was my first official half-marathon 5 years ago, and I ran it in 1:59. Those were the days (!) I've wanted to get back to run it ever since, but the timing's never worked out until now. So even though it was the first Fred's Team official long run, I went to Prospect Park to revisit an old friend.
The course was different this year. In years past, the course began on the Coney Island boardwalk, went up and down the boardwalk, then up Ocean Avenue to Prospect Park, and then a loop of the Park. If you're not familiar with Brooklyn, that's 11 1/2 flat miles, and the last mile and a half uphill. Ugh. This year, the course started in the Park, a loop and a half of the Park, then down and across the Expressway to Ocean Avenue, then down Ocean Ave to a finish on the Boardwalk. Much better, although what is it with NYRR and a loop and a half of a Park? That's why I didn't sign up for the NYC Half again this year. That and the $75 fee. For that kind of $$, surely we can come up with a more imaginative course than a loop and a half of Central Park.
I figure the course would be slightly easier, and felt that with one half marathon under my belt already this season, I would be able to get through it comfortably, even without a lot of training. Did I mention the wicked bladder/kidney infection I had had the week before? That's the reason for the lack of training. My kidney was paining so much I went to have an MRI to see if I had a kidney stone. Nope! Turns out, I pulled a back muscle so specificially on that spot that it mimiced a kidney infection (I know all too well what a kidney infection feels like, so believe me when I tell you I was fooled!)
The biggest surprise about this race was that for the first time that I have ever experienced at a NYRR race, some of the stations ran out of water. I know! It was a humid, humid day, and this was a very large race. But wow, I had to actually wait at one station while the poor volunteer poured water as fast as he could, and had to skip another station when it became clear that I wasn't going to get any liquid any time soon. I needed a gel, and had to take it without water. Bleh. And I LIKE gels!
At the finish of the race, very smart of NYRR -- they had bags of salt pretzels instead of bagels. Between the crush of runners and people on the Boardwalk, the finish was a bit of a madhouse, and I decided to head hime instead of wandering. PS: 2:06:18, my second slowest ever. Booo.
ROCK AND RUN/HIGH SCHOOL REUNION: This is the third year of the Rock and Run, a three mile fun run/walk sponsored by MSKCC as a benefit for their programs for cancer survivors. There are so many people on my Team who are survivors thanks to MSKCC, and also people in my family, and friends, that of course I'm going to run! Even if it was the day after my 25th High School reunion...yes, amazing that I am only 29 and went to high school 25 years ago (old joke.)
Let me tell those of you who have upcoming reunions -- go!! I went to the kind of a high school where there were no real cliques, just the people you hung out with a lot. I knew a lot of people in my class -- there were only 200 of us -- and I'd like to think I was friendly with a lot of them, but didn't really know most of them. Well, what the hell was my problem? Now that the years have passed, I realize just how amazing and cool all of these people are, and why the hell didn't I know that before? At our 20th, I got to connect and reconnect with so many amazing folks, and I feel I'm better friends with them now than I ever was.
Our 25th was at the same place as our 20th -- Metrazur. It's a great place for a reunion, I will say, surprisingly intimate given its location in the main room of Grand Central Station. I drank my fair share of the liquor, and then went to the afterparty for a while. Around 2am, I realized I better get home, as I needed to be at the Rock and Run by 8. Oops. I wish I could have stayed longer.
So, still drunk, I stumbled over to the Hudson Piers to meet my Team and celebrate MSKCC and all the great people they've helped.
At the R&R, I also debuted my new toy -- my podcast! I wanted to audiotape my run and some of the events there, and also interview some people about Fred's Team and running. Unfortunately, I learned very fast that I am a rotten interviewer, evidenced when I tried to interview Dan Abrams of MSNBC. Oh, it will be on the podcast, as soon as I get around to it.
I also interviewed some of my Teammates as we ran. I ran with Jill and Deb. They both kept urging me to go ahead, but why? It's a fun run. I was having fun being with my friends. Also saw my old pal Dr. Mark there -- he's a doctor at MSKCC specializing in lung cancer. He was there with his family.
After the run, we went back to the VIP section (yay, Team perk!) for brunch, and general hanging-out while the festivities commenced. I had a good talk with Coach Jeff about my goals for this year, and he promised to kick my arse all the way to the finish line. Bring it on!
Had to leave early, to head out to my brother's house to see my five-year-old niece's first dance recital (!) Five-year-olds doing ballet is little more than jumping up and down and spinning around, but it was absolutely precious.
Of course, the highlight of the weekend, and made all the more precious in light of recent events, was Liam's fifth birthday party on Saturday afternoon. Mom Gretchen and Dad Larry rented out one of the tents at Victorian Gardens (which is the amusement park that Wollman Rink turns into in the summer.) There were about 100 people there, both kids and parents, all brought together by one very special little man. Not to leave Ella out, Liam's little sister, it was a party for her, too. Three big cakes (pirate ship for Liam, princess for Ella, and black-and-white for the adults), wine and beer and finger food, plus lots and lots of ride tickets for the little ones. It was a great, great day. I met some of the family, many of their friends, some other kids from MSKCC, and some of the nurses. Liam looked so great, his hair was all grown in and he had put on some weight. It's really not fair.
Still a little more catch-up to do, which I promise to get to with more alacrity!!
Have a great day,
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I want to thank everyone who has responded to my appeal for donations to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research after hearing about Liam's relapse. I'm going to share with you the latest entry from mom Gretchen's blog, "Prince Liam the Brave," to give you a full update.
Pediatric cancer research is critically underfunded, especially rare cancers like Liam's. In fact, all of the money used for the research and treatment options available for neuroblastoma at Sloan -- one of only two hospitals in the world that offer such treatments -- come directly from the Aubrey Fund.
There are many ways you can help. All of these ways go directly to pediatric cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC.
-you can donate to my Fred's Team marathon effort, which goes directly to the Aubrey Fund, by clicking here.
-you can donate to Fred's Team in general, which goes directly to the Aubrey Fund, by clicking here.
-you can click over to "Band of Parents," an organization of parents with children battling neuroblastoma, buy something from their gift shop, or make a donation to them.
-you can click on "Cookies for Kid's Cancer," started by BOP, and either buy cookies from them (they are delicious, by the way, I can tell you from experience) or hold a bake sale of your own and donate the proceeds. They provide step-by-step instructions.
I've had a dreadful head cold for the past few days which has curtailed my running, which is killing me, because there's nothing I want to do more right now and train as hard as I can, as if somehow that's going to make things better for Liam. In some ways, it will. If my efforts inspire others to help, either through a donation or by lacing up themselves, it's worth it. However, I can't breathe through my nose, or stop coughing, so one more day off will hopefully not stop my momentum, or anyone else's.
And now, "Liam Returns to Battle," written by Liam's dad, Larry:
It is with heavy hearts that we share with you the unfortunate results of Liam’s most recent scans. The results of which showed that Liam has relapsed in a new area behind his lungs, around the lymphatic system. The 3f8 treatment Liam has been so fortunate to receive does not seem to be the right therapy to keep him free of soft tissue disease. We have been fortunate not to have found disease in his bone marrow but it is a mixed blessing since bone disease is what 3f8 really excels at fighting and the treatment Liam has tolerated well. He received 7 rounds of 3f8, two being high dose, since earlier this year. Cells hiding in soft tissue require that chemo be used to kill them so Liam will start a round of high does as early as tomorrow if not later today. No amount of time can be wasted since the tumors they found were not there 90 days ago and have grown to be approximately 2” in size in a short period of time.
It angered me all weekend to know that the cells were growing and spreading while he ran around the yard, swam, rode his bike, and played with Ella as if his world was in perfect order. The feeling of being completely powerless while something is harming your child right in front of you is a feeling I cannot begin to describe.
Today Liam has an MRI to better understand where the tumors are located since one resides in the soft tissues surrounding the spinal cord. It is most likely in the tissues around the vertebras according to last week’s scans but we need to be certain. Liam will also have a port surgically implanted back in his chest today so he can receive chemo. The surgery time is not known since he was an add on the schedule so will be squeezed in at some point. He will be really bothered by the ports return both physically and physiologically. It kills us to have to watch him endure so much. We plan to tell him that his blood “still needs more fixing” and he will need more medicine to get the job done. Liam does not know he has cancer, does not know what cancer is, and thinks he is perfectly normal. His innocence has been a major priority of ours throughout the last two and a half years. We know that this time around he will likely question the various treatments and procedures more than ever as he works to process and determine what is really going on. Anyone who knows Liam and knows him well appreciates his relentless curiosity and inquisitive nature.
We are looking in every direction to determine the next best step based on Liam’s situation. We know we must stop and shrink the tumors immediately and then remove whatever is left. Meaning, Liam will likely undergo a major surgery sometime in July. We along with Liam’s team of doctors at MSKCC, along with input from several other top neuroblastoma doctors, will then develop a new game plan to keep him clean. There are a few other options but not as many as you would think or desire. Each will likely include various combinations of chemo as well as new or experimental therapies like NK cell, ABT-751, or MIBG therapy. We have a most unpleasant and unexpected summer ahead of us. Your support and endless cheering for Liam is what truly keeps us going. Though we are scared, broken, and tired of this journey’s seemingly endless barrage of heartache and pain, it is one we would walk a thousand times over for Liam.
I will leave you with this:
On Friday we returned to our apartment after learning of Liam’s relapse. Gretchen and I were doing our best to act as if nothing was wrong even though we were both crushed and had pretty much had the life sucked out of us. We could not appear as if anything was out of the ordinary even though we were both numb. I walked into Liam’s room with him to find the sun streaming through his bedroom window. He said “Daddy! Daddy look! It’s beautiful! Look at the sunlight” as he held up his arms and basked in it, dancing around! I could not physically respond but I doubt I will ever forget to appreciate the simplicity and beauty of late afternoon sunlight shining through a window. ..yet another lesson from our young Prince.
Friday, June 12, 2009
I literally just found out that Liam has to go back in for chemo starting Monday. Neuroblastoma is a cancer that does not like to let go, and Liam is a tasty morsel indeed. It really sucks because that very special birthday party that I'm going to tell you about in Part Two was Liam's fifth birthday. The exact same thing happened to him last year -- the recurrence of his cancer one month after his fourth birthday.
If anyone can beat this thing, it's Liam, and MSKCC is going to do all it can to help him in his fight.
Please, please, please, keep Liam and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
I hate to be pushy, but if there was ever a time to make a donation to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research, where the money to fund Liam's treatment comes from, it is now. Please click here and make a donation. Anything you can give will help Liam -- and all the children being treated at MSKCC -- win the fight of his life.
Please pass this blog post around to your family, friends, anyone who might be interested in helping.
On behalf of Liam and his family, thank you all, once again,
PS: Just in case anyone is wondering, I don't get my marathon entries through Fred's Team. I earn them by running the NYRR races in the previous calendar year. I run with the Team because I want to, and as long as there is cancer in the world, because I have to.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
So much running news!
First and foremost, the latest members of the FRED'S TEAM HONOR ROLL:
and the winner of the "Who Will Put Me Over $1000" contest:
So yes, we are over $1,000, with the total now going to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in honor of my buddy Liam Witt to...
Tell you what -- a prize to the person who puts me over $1500. A PRIZE!! A PRIZE!! Who doesn't love a prize??? Click on this link right here to donate a little cheddar and your chance to win!!
Much older news to get through before the new news, but there is one new bit of new news to announce first --
I am going to start a PODCAST.
Steve Runner and all the amazing folks on the Fdip group are always encouraging folks to start one, so by gum, I'm going to do it this time! I mean it! I've got a lot of good audio footage, and I downloaded a few of the popular editing programs, and as soon as I get a little free time, I'm going to put the first couple of episodes together. It will be mainly running and Fred's Team related, of course. I'll take you out on training runs and Team events, get advice from my coaches, share strategies and tips, and provide interviews with fellow runners, Team members, and other cool people. It should hopefully be good to go in a week or so.
Now, onto the news.
First thing I'd like to tell y'all about is a really good idea started by Tavia K of the Pigtails Flying blog, and that was a meet-up of runners who blog! It was great to not only meet some great new people and hear about their training and races and so on, but to also find out about their blogs:
4:30 or Bust
Adventures of Cowboy Hazel
Marci Runs the Marathon (that's me!)
NYC in 3:10
NYC Running Blog
Races Like a Girl
Run Ansky Run
When I have a few more minutes, I'll add them to the sidebar for easier accessibility. A lot of us want to try to make it a regular event. I hope so! One of the people there was doing two marathons a month (you'll have to read the blogs to find out who!!) She said there's no real running in between. I guess you're always in taper mode. That's got to be strange. I have Teammates who do stuff like that -- the 50 Staters, and a few who can do marathons on the spur of the moment (hmm, it's Saturday, I have nothing to do -- is there a marathon nearby?) I don't know if I can do that. I like the release that running on a regular schedule during the week gives me. As I've said a kazillion times, it's like my yoga. I don't know how I'd feel about running if I did it all in a twice-monthly 26.2 mile push. But I really admire folks who can do that. Almost makes me feel lazy in comparison!
Why did I think I was going to have tons of time to catch you up on everything?
I'll make this a Part One of Two, and continue later today or tomorrow... I promise!!
In the next post:
Rock and Run
my 25th high school reunion (that's right!)
Fred's Team Kickoff
-- and a very special birthday party!!
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
This is an excerpt from Gretchen's post on her blog, "Prince Liam the Brave"
Liam has a jersey and medal from the 2008 NYC Marathon. They were
given to him by his friend and supporter Marci who has run in the past two NYC
Marathons as a member of Fred’s Team. The money raised by Fred’s Team goes
directly to the pediatric floor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering with a chunk of it
directed to the costs associated with manufacturing 3F8 antibodies. Marci is an
“after cancer” friend who has been so gracious and unwavering in her commitment,
even for a family she doesn’t know outside of the world of cancer. Lately Liam
has taken to running around with the purple and orange Fred’s team jersey on,
with the medal around his neck, and his head popping out of the arm hole of a
t-shirt to act like he has long hair flowing behind him. He runs from one end of
the apartment to the other yelling, “I’m a winner!! I’m a winner!!” with Ella
faithfully following behind.
Don't tell Liam he's wearing the shirt backwards!
Anyways, I've been meaning to post that for a while, because that picture makes me giggle every time I see it.
I also wanted to update you quickly -- my math sucks, the actual total to date I have raised so far is
Who's going to put me over the $1000 mark? Whoever does wins a prize. For real!
Much to tell you, but in the next post.