My Fundraising Page

November Update
Nov 10, 2011 by Lisa Valdez

San Francisco 10.16.11 - Fisherman's Wharf, post marathon dinner at Alioto's

"The task before you is never greater than the strength within you"

I think of the above quote often. A dear friend of mine sent it to me the night before the race. I ultimately found it rang true, although I questioned it's validity during miles 16 - 26.2.

In a few days, my fundraising page will close and a chapter in my life that has been so big will close quietly with it. Honestly, I'm not sure that I'm ready. And in a few weeks, Dad will travel back to Kansas City for his 100 day post transplant appointment. I'm not sure I'm ready for that either. Having Dad at home, going to work, coming to football games....has been glorious. Seeing him happy and living well again just feels good. Trusting that all will be well...and he can continue on this path, is sometimes tough to grasp. I feel cautious. Happy, excited & blessed, but I am also cautious, scared and anxious. One thing about cancer - in your mind, in your never goes away.

Most importantly, Dad feels good, he rests a lot but works full days. Mom has gotten back into her routine and both are very happy. As we prepare to celebrate the holiday season, my mind drifts back to a year ago, the diagnosis fresh at Thanksgiving dinner. Hearts heavy, big hugs and many, many tears. Christmas was especially difficult. Mom was struggling and it broke my heart. So much was unknown and chemo was about to begin. It was very difficult to walk away from Mom on Christmas night. It was as though she couldn't bear to let us out the door. Perhaps if we just stayed there, together....

A year later we will celebrate very differently. The road we've taken, the path we've been forced to travel, has changed us. We see things in a new perspective, each of us. We feel victory! We feel something else too, knowing life is precious. We treasure our time together differently now. This will never change.

On October 16, 2011, I ran the hills of San Francisco with blind ambition. Standing in my pace corral, waiting anxiously for the 7AM start gun, two runners in front of Jessica (pictured with me upper left photo) and I turned around to chuckle at us - "Kansas??!! Bet you don't have hills like these!". They found it fairly amusing that a flat terrain runner would take on a task as great as 26.2 miles in San Francisco and they were happy to share with us their doubt in our abilities. During my training, many people told me SF was too hilly for my first marathon - I'd never even run a 5K! Their doubt made me nervous, but more importantly, it made me strong.

There is a saying that goes something like this: "The woman who crosses the finish line is not the same woman who started the race". I know this to be true, having crossed both the starting line, and the finish line. The marathon was by far, the most difficult thing I've ever done, physically, mentally and emotionally. It HURT. And I begged for it to be over. But many times I also smiled because my surroundings took my breath away. I was absolutely amazed at the beauty around me. I was shocked then, at how quickly it felt almost ugly, as pain set in, held on and refused to let go. The ocean went on for miles, the sand, the dunes, the Great mind fought and then I felt alone - more alone than I have ever felt in my life. Desperate and scared, I suppose I felt like a cancer patient must feel sometimes.

On October 16, I did something BIG. For my Dad, for my family, for myself and for millions of blood cancer patients. 23,000+ people ran the 2011 Nike Women's Marathon & Half Marathon. Over 16,400 of the race participants ran the half marathon - 13.1 miles. I was one of 6300 who ran the full marathon - 26.2 miles. This means something to me. The course is brutal and difficult - extremely challenging even for veterans. Lisa Way, my very dear high school girlfriend, is pictured with me in the upper right photo. Lisa met me in SF and ran Nike too, but much faster than I. A seasoned marathoner who always amazes, encourages and supports me, Lisa said the SF Nike course was one of the toughest she's ever ran. But in the moments after the race, my mind was unable to grasp what I'd just done. I sat alone in a chair, took off my shoes and stared at my feet, thinking how good they felt in my sandals. I couldn't wrap my mind around any more than that thought alone. I was blessed beyond all words to have teammate Jessica (my angel and dear friend) there. Jessica ran the half marathon and waited at the finish line until I slowly stumbled in. She patiently packed up my belongings, guided me to the beach, got me food and water and led me to the bus that drove us back to our hotel. It took several days for me to realize what I'd accomplished and as the reality unfolded in my mind, it felt incredible. And unbelievable.

I would assume and have been told that the way I felt is similar to the way a cancer patient feels during their journey. There are days even now that I think I could never run a marathon. But I HAVE. There are days we think we can't handle the cards we've been dealt. But we CAN. "The task before you is never greater than the strength within you".

The 2011 Team in Training Nike Women's Marathon Team raised $12.7 million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Kansas participants alone raised $237,141. I am blessed and humbled to be a part of something so powerful and incredible. Each of you has been a part of this amazing journey! Sadly, this will be my final official "thank you" to you. I don't know how to impress upon you how much your love, support and prayers have meant to my family and I over the past 6 months or more. Please know that after today, although you may not hear from me each month, you are in my heart and will remain there forever. "Thank you" doesn't do justice to how I truly feel.

With a full heart and teary eyes.....for now, goodbye.


Mom, Dad, Aunt Vicki, Uncle Kevin (Dad's Brother) at a family dinner two weeks ago - 10.22.11

October Update
Oct 06, 2011 by Lisa Valdez

One Saturday morning on a 13 mile run, I stopped to take this in. It would have been about 8:30AM, I was 11 miles in and tired. On long run days I save this part of my run route for last. It is my most favorite route and knowing it is there, waiting, keeps me going even when my legs are tired and my mind is arguing.

Moving forward....looking back.

Almost a year has passed since my Dad told me the news. When he said "Lymphoma", I a lot of memories came flooding back, painfully and without reserve. Lymphoma took my sweet Grandma. If you knew her, you loved her. A heart of gold and one of the best cooks in the world. She made the most amazing fried chicken...and hash browns and well, rice. She let my brother Jason and I drink her coffee. Lots of cream and sugar. We ate picnics on the deck, played pool in the attic and piano that drove my poor Grandpa crazy. Many a Christmas was shared by Grandma's fireplace. The oven going all day, cozy and warm, that was Grandma. Then along came sweet cousin Shannon and she was a gem. A baby in the family again and Grandma loved her. I was 10 years old by then and as I watched Grandma feed her and fuss over my little cousin in her pretty white rosebud dress, I admired how much Grandma loved her family and I knew she had devoted her life to them. I vowed to be like Grandma in that regard. So when Dad said he had Lymphoma too, my childhood swiftly flashed before my eyes. Like an old family slide show, on the projector, displayed on a pop up screen, with popcorn and warm drinks. With one word, I saw everything I knew as a child slipping between my fingers.

I suppose it was security I thought I was losing. It took a little time to say "cancer" without crying. The Cancer Centers of America commercials were ridiculously painful. Any commercial promoting drugs whose side effects warned cancer patients to beware, forced me to shut off the television. As I lay in bed the night that Dad gave me his news, I stared across my bedroom. My tired eyes rested upon my handbag. It was a 70's retro style and reminded me of a handbag my Mom carried when I was young. As I stared at the bag, I cried. Silly, now, in retrospect. My dear husband Mike told me I would slowly get used to the news. He said I would accept it. It seemed like a preposterous notion. Oddly, I eventually found he was right; I was moving forward....looking back.

It must have been the smallness, the helplessness that Dad's diagnosis imposed upon me that compelled me to DO SOMETHING. Sure, I could care for Mom and Dad, love them, see them, call them, be there, but it wasn't quite enough. My decision to do the marathon came with resolve to do something tangible - to fight.

I share the photo above because it captures my little slice of heaven on earth. When I run, this is the route I covet most. On a bad day, this is where I go. I used to run this route with Cristian, before he left for college. We loved to go at night, when the air got cool, over the bridge and above the water....incredible. The stars, breathtaking. Lightening storms in shades of gray and green and blue, glorious and scary. I remember looking at my son one stormy night, incredulous. He looked back and said, "We're fine, Mom. Don't worry, you're with me". I smile when I think of that now, safe with my boy. But now alone, I run before dark. The sunsets... unbelievable. And the doe from August September has doe friends. Now there are three, and every now and then, I find them - every night I LOOK for them. By the road, or in the field among the brilliant sunflowers, they stare as I approach. I stare back, almost giddy at my find. They are gorgeous, their pretty white tails fluffy as they hurdle the fence when they finally decide to turn and run. Moving forward, I cross the train tracks and think of my sweet friend, Lisa, who lost one of her dearest friends in a tragic running accident almost one month ago. Looking back.

And Dad. If you know Dad, you know what a strong, determined person he is. And God has been good to him, and to our family. Dad is still recovering from his August stem cell transplant and more chemo. But his blood counts have come up, and Dad feels good; strong. He looks good, and strong too. I have to credit my sweet Mom for taking such amazing care of him. She has been Dad's faithful caregiver and undying support system. After weeks of rest, and some boredom at home, Dad saw his oncologist again last week and was given the green light to re-enter the world! Dinner out Friday, and in to work on Monday. I chatted with Dad on the phone the other day. He was at work. His voice, bold and strong. Not the quiet, almost small voice I knew from post transplant days, he sounded alive! He was thrilled to be at work, a part again of something he loves. Today, my Dad is good. Will they ever cure his Mantle Cell Lymphoma? I don't know. For now, we pray for a long and happy remission. Isn't that enough? Moving forward, looking back....yes, it truly is enough.

In 10 days from today, in honor of my Dad and in memory of my dear Grandma, I will run the Nike Women's Marathon; I'm only one of 20,000 race participants. The marathon date is October 16, which is one day after my Mom and Dad's wedding anniversary. It strikes me because in order for my Mom and Dad to share another anniversary, another birthday, another holiday season, many had to run before me. And maybe because I run, another daughter will get to give her Mom and Dad another anniversary, birthday, holiday. Moving forward....looking back.

Thank you will never be enough for those who've loved, supported, donated and prayed for our family and my Dad along the way. Each of you are in my heart. And for my beloved family, my husband Mike and our four children...I could not have done any of this without each of you, or without the love and support of my Mom and Dad. I love you each with all my heart.

Love to all....

September Update
Sep 12, 2011 by Lisa Valdez

My sweet Grandma and I. Grandma lost her battle with Lymphoma in 1990. I am running in memory of her, and in honor of my Dad.

The Gift. A tribute....

Some gifts are bittersweet. Dad's recovery is one such gift. It's been almost a month since Dad's most recent chemo cycle and stem cell transplant. After a lot of rough days, and feeling extremely unwell, Dad's body, aided with the appropriate medications, began to accept the transplanted cells. His physical rebound was swift and glorious! KU Medical Center released Dad to come home, and he and Mom did just so the weekend of Labor Day. A full week or two ahead of schedule, we were all thrilled! And a little surprised at how quickly things progressed.....

Upon returning home, Dad quickly learned that coming home wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Bittersweet, you might say. Although Dad is now home, he can't DO anything. He isn't really even supposed to go outdoors, at least not without his mask. He faces 6 months of antibiotics, which combined with the transplant and chemo, have a tendency to upset his stomach. He deals with heavy fatigue, taking frequent naps. He has had some dizzy spells, disorientation and mood swings. And a man who truly loves his career, Dad is not to return to work for several months. Lily, the dog did get to come home this week, making Dad's nap time a little sweeter.

When I spoke with Dad today, his blood counts had dropped unexpectedly. Drs. aren't sure why and Dad is somewhat frustrated. Re-testing on Monday will help determine what to do next. The gift of recovery means good days, bad days and a lot of bittersweet.

The above photo is of my Grandma and I. Because Grandma also had Lymphoma, I am running in memory of her too. Grandma, this update is for you, I hope I make you proud. Grandma was a true gift, one of the most genuine, sincere, beautiful and loving people I've ever known. Of course the gift of Grandma was bittersweet too. Passing before I had the chance to share my own children with her, Grandma left the earth way too soon by my standards. And by Grandpa's standards too. He missed her terribly after she passed on. Leaving him behind, it certainly didn't seem fair. In the years following Grandma's passing, every time I saw Grandpa, his look was more bitter than sweet. Both Grandma and Grandpa are missed and loved dearly to this day. Often when I run, I think of them.

Lastly, my running. It is an absolute joy; I am healthy, strong and able to run 16, 18....20 miles, truly a gift from God. I recently talked to my dear high school girlfriend, Lisa, who will run the Nike Marathon with me. She is facing a very close family friend's recent cancer diagnosis and we lamented over the BAD of cancer. We talked about the possible good that comes of cancer too. I told Lisa about a basket on my bedroom bureau. Glancing at the basket I used to see jewelry, seashells and momentos from the past. Those things are still in there, but at the bottom. Now when I glance at the basket, I see my ipod & charger, ipod armband, runner's wrist band, my road ID bracelet, spibelt, GU gels and some protein bars. The basket makes me smile because it reminds me of who I've become in the last 9 months. Running because of Dad's diagnosis is a very good thing and part of my emotional recovery process, but it is bittersweet. The trade off for my own emotional recovery and running bliss is the suffering, success, loss and painful recovery process for countless blood cancer patients, including my Dad and Grandma.

While out on an 8 mile last night, I spotted a deer standing by the road a few hundred feet before me. It was nearly dusk, and a beautiful scene, her coat shining gold in the setting sun. I waited to see what she would do. She waited to see what I would do. I kept running, she kept waiting. I was nervous and so was she apparently, because just before I got too close she scampered off, easily hurdling the fence into a field. Tucked a safe distance away, she stood and stared again. I stared back, smiling. Another gift.

Thank you all for your prayers, well wishes and support. Thank you, God for the gift of recovery. Love to all

August Update
Aug 10, 2011 by Lisa Valdez

Mom and Dad at dinner, Saturday 06 August 2011...the night we said farewell, for now

Goodbye under a big sky

It's always hard to say goodbye....but this time was especially tough. Mike, the kids and I took Mom and Dad out for dinner on Saturday, as they prepared to leave once again for KU Med in Kansas City. This time, as the sky darkened, our goodbyes were for what seems like it will be an eternity. Dad said, "it will all be ok". Mom said, "keep running, honey".

Dad began chemo treatments again on Monday, August 8. He will receive chemo twice per day, through Saturday. On Monday, he didn't feel too good but Tuesday he was much better. He didn't sleep well Tuesday night, but both seem to be in very good spirits anyway. Mom is a saint for taking such good care of Dad. Dad is a warrior with a true positive spirit. I know they can handle anything. I wish they didn't have to go through this but I'm so very proud of their resilience!

Next Monday, August 15 Dad will receive the stem cells for transplant and then a slow recovery process will begin. Until Dad is well enough to go home, he and Mom will live in an apartment in Kansas City, just a few minutes from the hospital, per Dr. orders. Post transplant, Dad will be required to receive all of his childhood immunizations again. The stem cell transplant will truly knock his immune system to zero. It's pretty amazing and pretty scary too.

While I take care of things here, I continue to run and run and run.....during the week I run with Cristian, or alone, and occasionally with friends. On Saturday, I did 9 slow miles with the Team In Training Group in Wichita. I ran with my friend, Jessica, whose Mom was a Leukemia patient and underwent a stem cell transplant like my Dad. Jessica's Mom passed away a little more than a year ago. While we ran together on Saturday, we both got pretty tired around mile 7. As we ran side by side, Jessica and I talked about remembering her Mom, my Dad and their strength, courage and unending faith. We realized that in training, we have to maintain the same will and faith, no matter how hard it seems. I always feel silly when my mind says "Lisa, you can't go on". And then I think about those who are holding on to LIFE with everything they have left. My pain during a run is nothing, and we are ALWAYS stronger than we think - I know this to be true! Spending time with friends who've been in my shoes is so powerful and so important. This Saturday I will again join the TNT group to run my 12 miles and I will remember those who are fighting to survive, those who've lost their battles and those who've won. God Bless each one.

I often gaze at the stars at night, the moon, the thick black of night and remember that we are all under the blanket of one heaven. It is a comforting thought as I miss my Mom and Dad and things seem so very far away. I am so small, God is so big. And as I press on, my Mom's words echo quietly in my ears...."keep running, honey".....

Love to all

July update
Jul 08, 2011 by Lisa Valdez

Cristian and I on his senior prom night this April and before his first Railer football game of his senior 2010 season.

Running for my Dad, with my update

As my training schedule becomes more aggressive, so does my Dad's fight against his Mantle Cell Lymphoma! He and Mom have been at KU Medical Center in Kansas City this week for testing in preparation of the stem cell transplant he is to undergo in a few weeks. If all goes well, Dad will begin the transplant process approximately July 21. Stem cell transplants have been shown to prolong remission periods for Mantle Cell, which is incurable.

Please continue to keep Mom and Dad in your thoughts and prayers and I will keep everyone updated as things progress. So much plays into this next phase of treatment, which is demanding and extremely aggressive - but also very successful and promising in the majority of patients. The physical demands and recovery process are taxing enough. When we factor in the emotions and strain that go with being gone from home for an extended period of time and Dad's absence from work for more than three months, these next few months are huge. And anyone who knows Dad knows that he does not miss work - ever. As a family we'll pull together to take care of things at home, and relieve Mom as full time caregiver as often as possible.

Meanwhile, I continue to run and am absolutely loving it. My mileage increases each week and I feel so positive about what I'm doing! I have enjoyed the challenge and am always amazed that I can do more than I thought possible. What a true gift, I am SO blessed and thank God every time I run for the strength he's given me. I have enjoyed beyond words, running with my oldest son, Cristian, who will run for Wichita State University on a track scholarship this fall. He's been my rock and motivation, the best training partner I could ask for. We usually run in silence but to have him by my side or two steps ahead keeps me going further. And the starry nights, cool breezes, extreme heat, eating bugs, dodging dead birds or animals in the road, avoiding snakes, waiting on trains as we run in place, laughing at each other in the middle of the road, screaming at cars as they fly by way too fast (and way too close)....these are priceless moments that I will never forget.

I love you Dad & Mom; I love you Cristian. I set out to do this for the benefit of others and the fight against blood cancer. But my own personal rewards have been more than I ever imagined possible and may far outweigh the benefit to LLS. Either way, we are all good.

Love to all.....

Older posts

Supporter Comments

    "Good work, Lisa! Remember that running is fun and sweating it out on the hot summer days is all for a fantastic cause."

    Lisa Way

    Fri Mar 18 09:19:23 EDT 2011

    "You go, Lisa! I think it's wonderful that you are going to run with this worthy cause in mind! May God bless and give you strength to persevere!"

    Vera Davis

    Wed Mar 23 05:53:22 EDT 2011

    "Lisa, This is such a wonderful thing you are doing for such a wonderful person. I love Bruce for his strong moral character and his love of family. I cherish his friendship. If there is anything you need along the way feel free to ask. My daughter-in-law has been running for about a year now and I know through her that it takes a circle of friends to help keep that motivation up. I will follow your progress on your home page. Wayne Ditgen"

    Wayne Ditgen

    Thu Mar 24 10:43:22 EDT 2011

    "For my good friends from high school, Bruce and Carol. My thoughts and prayers are with you both at this difficult time."

    Donna Unrau Klassen

    Tue Mar 29 10:48:16 EDT 2011

    "May you and your dad be surrounded in prayer as you go through these parallel ordeals. Greet each day with gratitude."

    Patsy Hanson Penner

    Thu Mar 31 04:35:51 EDT 2011

    "Sending our thoughts and prayers."

    Verla Harms Vogts

    Wed Jul 13 04:31:06 EDT 2011

    "You're an amazing woman - mother, daughter and friend - Lisa, and we admire your dedication to your father's survival. We are praying for the best. Good luck in October!"

    The Bridgeman Family

    Wed Aug 10 01:41:23 EDT 2011

    "Go impressed with your dedication, Lisa. Your dad, and the rest of your family, must be so proud. Good luck as you continue with your training. You are awesome!"


    Tue Aug 30 10:49:42 EDT 2011

    "I know you're running for your Dad the way I'd run for mine. Good luck and enjoy every mile at NIKE. "

    Lynnsey Basala

    Fri Sep 16 12:22:30 EDT 2011

    "This is for both my parents who my father died of cancer and my mom had breast cancer, it was completely removed did not have one day of treatment and is 87 today."

    Jonell Blackwood

    Tue Oct 04 03:33:03 EDT 2011

    "God bless you Lisa. We are in awe of your strength, determination, and enthusiasm. You inspire us to finish well another race set before us - read Acts 20:24. Let's put and end to the threat of blood cancer. We love you!"

    Carol and Bruce

    Thu Oct 13 09:09:19 EDT 2011

My Fundraising Total

Raised: $10,675.00 | Goal: $11,000.00
97 %

Make a Donation

We are sorry donations are no longer being accepted for this participant for this event.

In Honor of

My Dad, Bruce

My Thanks To

Charles Somers $5000.00
Another Bruce from NHS '6... $500.00
Carol and Bruce $300.00
Michelle Hilgenfeld $250.00
ChemTreat Inc. $250.00
Chem Treat, Inc. $250.00
Darren Eskridge $250.00
Wayne Ditgen $250.00
Harold Gregg $150.00
Kevin & Vicki Hoffer $125.00
Joyce Stuart $100.00
Jonell Blackwood $100.00
Lori Usher $100.00
The Other Valdez Family $100.00
Harold Wagenman $100.00
Krista Stutzman $100.00
Elizabeth Trimble $100.00
Terry Hughes $100.00
Shannon Hoffer $100.00
Lee Grochowsky $100.00
Kevin & Vicki Hoffer $100.00
WW Grainger $100.00
Lori Vandever $100.00
Douglas Wilcox $100.00
Molly Anderson $100.00
Stu Dalziel $100.00
Jonell Blackwood $85.00
Vera Davis $50.00
Elyse Boston $50.00
Janet Lubbers $50.00
jodi wondra $50.00
Carol Craft-McMullen $50.00
The Bridgeman Family $50.00
WW Grainger $50.00
Lori Knepper $50.00
Barbara Ford-Buell $50.00
Vera Davis $50.00
Danielle Boese $50.00
Jo & Mike Ruggiero $50.00
Lisa Way $50.00
Sharon Schmidt $50.00
jackie bigley $30.00
Carmen Thacker $25.00
Carmen Dietz $25.00
Lynnsey Basala $25.00
jeff homant $25.00
Kristine Peaney $25.00
Michelle $25.00
Angela Zuba $25.00
Loren Ikerd $25.00
Cathy Willis $25.00
Ray Nicodemus $25.00
Tami Garcia $25.00
Nikki White $25.00
Deneene Esau $25.00
Verla Harms Vogts $25.00
Tressa Machmer $25.00
Christine McKellip $25.00
Juli Winter $25.00
Ryan Martin $25.00
Rosalie Blosser $25.00
Patsy Hanson Penner $25.00
Donna Unrau Klassen $25.00
Brent Glann $25.00
Ellen Goering $25.00
Duane Hoppe $25.00
Carol McMullen $25.00
Jessica Southwick $10.00