A Tale of Two Heroes
Apr 01, 2013 by Janet Johnson
Blogs for both Vanessa and Sam have been updated over the weekend, and I want to share their reports with you.
Vanessa is now 60 days post-transplant (bone marrow transplant as part of her treatment plan for ALL), and test results from last week have been very encouraging. She is feeling better and has gotten out of the house a few times. As her immune system is still compromised, she will be spending most of her time at home over the next several months. Her positive outlook is inspiring. Click here to read her journal.
Sam's recent report was not good news. Test results on Friday indicate that his leukemia has relapsed. While he was able to be home for the weekend, he will be returning to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin today (April 1) to begin the next phase of his treatment. At this time, it appears that a bone marrow transplant will be part of the plan. Fortunately, perfectly matched donors have already been identified within Sam's family. Still, the news and the renewed uncertainty have, understandably, been devastating for Sam, his family, and their network of supporters. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Click here to visit the Superman Sam blog for updates.
Please keep in mind that Sam and Vanessa are only two of the thousands of individuals who are currently fighting a blood-related cancer. Their daily trials, celebrations, disappointments, and developments are repeated over and over throughout the world. It is the mission of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Your donation to the LLS will enable the continued funding of research resulting in the development of more effective, less toxic therapies and improved outcomes for patients. In addition, the LLS provides financial, emotional, and educational support to patients and their families as they navigate their journey.
Thanks to the tremendous support of so many, the $15,000 goal is within reach. It is simple to make a secure online donation by clicking on the DONATE NOW button to the right. I invite you to pass along the link to this web page to anyone who may be interested in supporting this cause. No donation is too large or too small. Together, we are saving lives, one mile at a time.
Bib numbers and butterflies
Mar 15, 2013 by Janet Johnson
April 15 - one month from today! This is when the reality of the event begins to hit home. I received an e-mail this week from the Boston Athletic Association, announcing that bib numbers have been assigned to all registered participants. Below is the information provided on their web site (www.baa.org):
I guess this means I'm really going to do this, and I get that jittery, nervous feeling inside if I think too much about it!! Just one more 20-miler to go (got in my 16 miles yesterday afternoon), then the taper, the GO! St. Louis half marathon (April 7), and the travel to Boston.
Below are photos of the back bib and ribbons I'll be wearing at my upcoming events:
I'll be doing a test run at the St. Patrick's Day race tomorrow morning to see if I need to make any adjustments before the longer events.
One month from now, the 117th running of the Boston Marathon will be finished. While there will be much celebration for the completion of the physical challenges of the event, we will also be celebrating the fundraising results achieved by Team In Training participants. I am anxious to learn the total donations that have been raised for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society this season by those who are participating in the Boston Marathon.
As we head into the final weeks of the season, I want to thank everyone who has so generously donated in response to my requests. Together, we have raised in excess of $13,700, only $1,300 short of my new goal of $15,000! I will be doing some FUNdraising at the St. Patrick's Day parade in downtown St. Louis tomorrow (following the annual 5-mile St. Patrick's Day run) and at the pep rally preceding the Cardinals' home opener on April 8. If you have been waiting to make a donation, now is the time to act! If you would like to make an additional gift, remember that each dollar goes 100% to the mission of the LLS (and is tax-deductible!). Matching gifts offered by many employers can multiply the impact of your personal gift. Donations will continue to be posted to this web page through April 15 (possibly later). The $15,000 mark is quite reachable. If we break this down (the $1,300 needed), we can accomplish this in a number of ways:
13 donations of $100 each = $1,300
26 donations of $50 each = $1,300
50 donations of $26 each = $1,300
100 donations of $13 each = $1,300
You get the idea! Each of us has the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a cancer patient. Will you take advantage of this opportunity and make a gift TODAY? I'm starting us off with a $100 donation this afternoon. Who will join me in this effort?
Together, we're saving lives, one mile at a time. Thank you for your partnership!
Feb 27, 2013 by Janet Johnson
It's time for another update and a quick review of what has been accomplished:
Superman Sam has continued to prosper and is enjoying his place as the 7-year-old in his family. If you don't recognize him, Sam is the Tinman, along with Dorothy (his sister, Yael), the Lion (his brother, David), and his younger brother Solly, who wasn't interested in donning a costume.
Vanessa has received her bone marrow transplant and, following some pretty rough days, is feeling much better. Her bloodwork results indicate that her body is responding well to the procedure, and she is expecting to be released from the hospital this week!
Thanks to the advances in treatments for leukemia, both Sammy and Vanessa are expected to thrive. The donations that you have made to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will help to ensure that such advances will continue to be developed and that patients like Sam and Vanessa will be declared "cured" as they reach the milestone of five years cancer-free!
Speaking of donations, you may notice that your generosity has pushed the fundraising total for this season over $11,000. I have even better news: I received a call this week from a friend/former teammate/cancer survivor, telling me that she has received a donation from her employer (Enterprise) that she would like to direct toward my account. This donation (not yet posted) will raise the total to more than $12,000! I am overwhelmed at the outpouring of support that has been shown and am grateful for every dollar received. On behalf of the LLS and the patients/families that they serve, I offer my heartfelt thanks.
Training is continuing to go well, with minimal negative consequences. Sure, I'm a bit sore following my long runs (we've now reached 18 miles for the long run and will increase to 20 in the next week or so), but there have been no major setbacks. I'm fortunate to have two good friends also training for Boston, so we've been covering a lot of our longer miles together.
With 47 days until the Boston Marathon, there is still time to help support the LLS through my TNT fundraising efforts. An online donation via credit/debit card is a very simple process - simply click on the DONATE NOW button on the right and follow the instructions. Donations by check (payable to the LLS) can be mailed to me at the following address:
2595 Pheasant Run Drive
Maryland Heights, MO 63043
Don't forget to check with your employer to find out if they have a matching gift program, which could multiply the impact of your personal gift. If you have any questions about your donation, matching gifts, how the money is spent, etc., please contact me at email@example.com.
THANK YOU for your tremendous support!
Super Sunday - a timeout for thanks
Feb 03, 2013 by Janet Johnson
While much of the media attention today is focused on the activities surrounding the Super Bowl in New Orleans, someone who prefers to remain Anonymous has taken the opportunity to accelerate the fight against blood-related cancers by making a donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through this web page. THANK YOU!
Over the last couple of weeks, I have received many encouraging remarks and congratulations on the level of fundraising that I have achieved this season. I want to be sure that everyone is aware that this has been a tremendous TEAM EFFORT. Yes, I have sent out dozens of letters and hundreds of e-mails, asking for support. But, without the extremely generous donations of more than 100 individuals and organizations, this level of success would not be possible. In only the last two weeks, more than $1,000 in new donations have been received and posted to my account. I am grateful for the support of each of you.
As a result of years of research and trials, bone marrow transplants have become one of the therapies for fighting cancers. I'm happy to report that my friend and honored hero, Vanessa, has just undergone a bone marrow transplant with the goal of eliminating future threats of a recurrence of cancer. While her journey has not always been pleasant or comfortable, Vanessa has maintained a positive, kick-butt attitude and posted her most recent update on her CaringBridge journal just a few days ago. Please keep Vanessa, her family, and her medical providers in your thoughts and prayers as she continues her recovery. Go, Vanessa!
No news recently from Sam and his family, which I interpret as the BEST news! Seems that Sammy is working hard at being a first grader and just one of the kids at home. I'm hopeful that his test results will continue to indicate a victory over leukemia. Way to go, Superman Sam!
With ten weeks until the Boston Marathon, I'm confident that we can reach the goal of raising $12,000 for the LLS. If you've been waiting for the right time to join our campaign, today is the right time! See the LLS web site for more information on how your gift is helping to save lives.
Race Bibs and Breakfast
Jan 19, 2013 by Janet Johnson
This was no ordinary Saturday morning in Imperial, MO. Today was the day of the 2nd annual Eggs & Bacon 5K run to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Mike Harp, a TNT alumnus from the 2012 GO! St. Louis marathon team, hosted a run last year as part of his FUNdraising efforts. The free event (donations welcome) features a 5K run on Old Highway 21 followed by a breakfast of bacon, egg, & cheese biscuits (eggs are provided by the Harp family's chickens!). We had 18 runners this morning. The overall male winner was crazy-fast, finishing in 20:00! The overall female winners were a pair of high school cross country runners, out for a fun run in their offseason.
Everyone finished in good spirits and was rewarded with a wonderful breakfast. Thanks to the generosity of all the runners and the Harp family (including Mike's parents and children who helped make the event a success), we raised over $400 to help in the fight against blood cancers! This event has pushed the total donations for this season over the $10,000 mark! Thank you to all who have contributed to this effort! Go, Team!!
2013 - a time for celebration
Jan 08, 2013 by Janet Johnson
As we look back on the events of 2012, some may say they'd like to forget about many of those days. I'm certain that Sam and Vanessa (and their families) would have preferred not to be diagnosed with leukemia and endured the treatments that have put them in remission. Beginning the new year, I am choosing to view this as an opportunity to celebrate the victories that have been achieved through those treatments and anticipate the joy of living that can be found if we earnestly search for it. Even in times of darkness, we have the choice of responding with despair or hope. I am choosing hope.
Through the generous gifts of donors, via Team In Training, Light the Night, School & Youth Programs, Man & Woman of the Year, as well as their other programs, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has been able to provide funding for numerous research projects over the past several decades. As a result of this research, many treatments and pharmaceuticals have been developed for blood cancer patients. Even more impressive is the fact that a number of the treatments that have been identified for blood cancers are also effective for the treatment of other types of cancer. You can read about research successes by clicking here.
This weekend I will be traveling to Orlando with the Gateway TNT participants for the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. I have been an assistant coach for this team over the past four months - it's time to celebrate their hard work in training and FUNdraising (over $100,000 for the Gateway team!) as they complete their events in the warmth of the Florida winter!
I would like to express my gratitude for every donation that has been made in support of my fundraising efforts through Team In Training. At this time I have reached over 90% of my initial goal of $10,000, and I anticipate that, with your generous gifts, we will exceed that amount. I will raise the bar and post a new goal of $12,000. You should know that I am covering all of my own expenses for the Boston Marathon (race entry, travel, lodging, etc.), so EVERY DOLLAR that is raised goes directly to the mission of the LLS: cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Thank you for your partnership with me in this effort.
I pray that 2013 will be the year that we can celebrate the development of a cure for cancer. Go, Team!
Dec 10, 2012 by Janet Johnson
News is coming in from both Sam and Vanessa:
Sam has been back at home in Chicago since November 2. Here's a glimpse of how he's been doing:
Yep, that's our little Sammy, literally climbing the walls at home! With energy like that, I'm encouraged that the treatments have been well-tolerated. Last week, he had his first off-treatment check-up, and his mom reports that the lab results are GOOD!
Vanessa has also been at home much of the time in the past month, able to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family. She was back in the hospital for another round of treatment November 23-28, but is back home again. There was some disappointing news that her sister, Val, is not a match for a bone marrow transplant, so Vanessa will be placed on the list for an unrelated donor. Hopefully a match will be identified soon so that a transplant can be completed early in 2013. This is a reminder that we can all play a role in saving lives by becoming a bone marrow donor. It's easy to register. Read more about the National Marrow Donor Program by clicking here.
On the fundraising front, I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has responded so generously to my initial request for support. Dozens of individuals have chosen to partner with me as we race to save lives, one mile at a time. For those of you who have considered a gift but have not yet made one, it's not too late. Donations made by December 31 may be deductible for your 2012 income taxes, but you may choose to wait until the new year. Don't forget to check with your employer about the availability of a matching gift to multiply the impact of your personal donation.
Training is going well. I have been conservative and keeping my mileage relatively low in order to reduce the risk of injury. Within the next several weeks, the long runs will begin to increase to prepare for the 26.2-mile adventure that awaits in Boston.
Thanks for joining me on this journey - be sure to check back for additional updates.
Honoree updates 11/18/2012
Nov 18, 2012 by Janet Johnson
In the update of the Superman Sam blog on Friday, his mom reported the results of recent testing:
Sam is fully in remission.
His treatment is complete.
The treatments have successfully treated his leukemia, and the Sommer family is reunited in their Chicago area home. While Sam will need to return to the clinic for periodic exams, no further treatments are scheduled.
Additional good news has been reported by Vanessa: she was declared to be in remission and was released from the hospital to go home last Sunday! She and her husband had recently purchased a house, but Vanessa was hospitalized at the time of the move.
Thanks to the advances in treatments for leukemia, both Sam and Vanessa are excited to be returning home from their medical centers. During their hospital stays, each of them has met other patients who are still hoping for a similar positive outcome - I will continue to work toward the mission of the LLS while children and adults continue to receive medical care for blood-related cancers.
Thank you to all who have responded to my request for donations! In the past two weeks, over $2,000 has been received (donations received by mail have not yet been posted to the web site) and additional pledges have been made. I'm confident that, with your generous support, the initial goal of $10,000 will be met!
I am currently helping to coach the Gateway TNT team for the Walt Disney World marathon weekend (January 12-13), so I'm maintaining a solid fitness base. I don't plan to significiantly increase my weekly mileage until after the Disney event. Check back for future updates on fundraising, training, and our honored heroes!
Nessy, the fighter
Nov 13, 2012 by Janet Johnson
I recently received an e-mail message from one of my teammates from the 2012 go! St. Louis marathon team. I first met Vanessa (Nessy) while we were doing a group FUNdraising drive before a Rams football game. It was cold and wet, but Nessy is energetic, outgoing, and an enthusiastic supporter of the mission of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We had a great time interacting with the tailgating Rams fans, and Vanessa was hooked!
She went on to exceed her fundraising commitment and she completed her first half marathon on April 15, 2012.
Immediately following the event weekend, Vanessa and her husband moved from Southern Illinois to Wisconsin. In her e-mail last week, she brought me up to date on her relocation, her new job, house, etc. She also delivered some disturbing news: she has recently been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Nessy is now in her second round of chemotherapy, and all indications are that the treatments have been effective. You can read more about her journey on her CaringBridge web site.
Cancer does not discriminate - it affects the young, the...not so young; the active and sedentary; those with family history of cancer and those with no apparent risk factors....
I hope you will join with me in this important effort to fund researchers whose goal it is to put an end to these diseases. Thank you to everyone who has responded to my request with donations and words of encouragement. Together, we're part of something much bigger than any of us could do as individuals. That's the reason I'm part of TEAM In Training.
BIG EVENTS WARRANT BIG GOALS
Nov 13, 2012
On April 15, 2013, I will have the opportunity to participate in the 117th running of the legendary Boston Marathon. For many long-distance runners, qualifying for and being accepted as a registrant for the Boston Marathon is a long-time goal. I have been fortunate in my relatively short running career to accomplish this goal.
In April 2008, I ran my first half marathon as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training (TNT) program. While training for such an endurance event required dedication, the most significant aspect of the season was the effort to raise funds to help in the battle against blood-related cancers. Since 2008, I have continued my involvement with TNT, having now completed four half marathons, two full marathons, two century (100-mile) cycling events, and a half-Ironman triathlon as a participant. My husband, Mark, and our daughter, Jessica, have completed another five events. With the generosity of numerous individuals and corporate sponsors, we have been able to fundraise over $44,000 for the Gateway Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).
The current TNT campaign is significant in two important ways: this will be my tenth TNT event as a fundraising participant, and 2013 marks the 25th anniversary of the TNT program. Since its inception in 1988, TNT has trained over half a million runners, walkers, cyclists, triathletes and hikers, and those participants have raised more than $1.3 billion to fund lifesaving cancer research and provide patient services.
While my family has been fortunate not to have faced a battle against cancer, we have all known of individuals and families who have been personally affected. One such individual, and my personal motivation for this undertaking, is six-year-old Sam, a first grader at Oak Terrace Elementary School in Highwood, IL. His older brother, David, is a student in my daughter, Beth’s, classroom. Sam was diagnosed in June with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and is wrapping up his fourth round of intensive chemotherapy. Due to the advances made through research, much of which has been funded by the LLS, Sam’s prognosis is much brighter than it was for a child diagnosed with AML even a few years ago. You can read more about Sam, his family, and their journey through a touching blog that his parents have been maintaining: http://supermansamuel.blogspot.com.
Sam was able to be home to celebrate his seventh birthday on November 8.
I invite you to join me on this quest to put an end to blood-related cancers. Your tax-deductible donation to the LLS will have a direct impact on those who are currently undergoing a plan of treatment by helping to provide patient services. In addition, you will be funding research into improved therapies to benefit those who will be diagnosed in the future.
You may make a donation by check (payable to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) and return it to me at the following address:
2595 Pheasant Run Drive
Maryland Heights, MO 63043
If your or your spouse's employer offers matching donations, you can multiply the impact of your personal donation by including the company matching gift form (generally available through the human resources department) with your donation. If you prefer, you may make an online donation by credit card by clicking on the DONATE NOW button to the right. Donations should be made by March 1, 2013, but a donation by December 31 will provide you with an opportunity for a tax deduction on your 2012 federal income taxes. You can also follow my progress in training and fundraising by revisiting this web page as I will post updates throughout the season. If your donation is in honor of or in memory of someone afflicted with a blood cancer, please send me their name(s). I would be honored to train, fundraise, and race on their behalf and I will wear ribbons during the marathon bearing the names of each of these honorees.
Since this season culminates in my tenth TNT event and running the Boston Marathon, I have set a personal goal of raising $10,000 for the LLS during this campaign. Your assistance in reaching, and hopefully exceeding, this goal is crucial. I encourage you to make a donation today and to pass along this invitation to your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. This is a very special opportunity to make a difference for Superman Sam and his family. I hope that you will join me in this effort. Thank you in advance for your generous support.