Akron Children's Hospital blog post
Jul 31, 2014 by Matt Tullis
Last week Akron Children's Hospital asked me to write something for their blog. They often post patient stories, and so I was happy to oblige.
Here is what ran on their blog, Inside Childrens:
In the dream, I was running, faster than I ever had before. The dream no doubt stemmed from the fact that I was entirely immobile, or at least had decided to be, in the midst of a barrage of chemotherapy treatments.
In the dream, I reveled in the speed at which my own feet carried me. I never considered myself a runner before then, and truth be told, never thought I would run once I survived and started rebuilding a new normal life.
I found out I had leukemia in Wooster on Jan. 2, 1991, and received treatments in Akron until March 1993. That 785-day span included a 70-day-stay on 4-North in Akron Children’s Hospital immediately following my diagnosis.
During those 70 days, I developed spinal meningitis and a host of other complications. But I ultimately went home because of the excellent care of the late Dr. Alex Koufos and the incredible nursing staff.
I’ve led a remarkably successful life since then, one in which I left behind those dark days fighting leukemia. I was a newspaper reporter and am now a professor at Ashland University.
I still write, sometimes for national audiences. I married a wonderful woman and have two amazing kids (especially amazing considering I wasn’t left sterile by the medicines I received).
A couple years ago, though, I realized I was letting my health get away from me. When I tipped the scales at more than 200 lbs. (I left Akron Children’s weighing less than 100), I knew I had to do something.
So I started running. And I started thinking about what I had gone through, and how I could help kids who are fighting what I fought two decades ago.
Now I’m getting ready for my first full-length marathon. I realized there was only one marathon that should be my first, and it would be the Akron Marathon. The finish line, after all, is in Canal Park, easily within site of Akron Children’s.
I imagine myself finishing the 26th mile and looking over at the hospital, thinking about how far I’ve come, and how it’s only been possible because of the people who work there.
I’m also running the marathon as a member of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. This is my second team event now — I did the Cleveland Rock and Roll Half-Marathon last fall.
I’ve long wanted to give back to the organizations that helped me survive, and now that I’ve helped myself hopefully extend that survivorship by actually caring about my own health, I can help these fine organizations.
I’m running, on average, about 20 miles a week right now to get ready for the marathon. That mileage will increase slowly through August. I spend so many of those miles thinking about the days I spent at Akron Children’s, when the only exercise I got came from nurses forcing me out of my bed, making me walk down the hallway, dragging my IV pump behind me.
Those walks seemed like they spread on for miles despite only lasting maybe 50 feet. Now the miles fly by.
I also spend a lot of time thinking about a lot of the patients I got to know while I was a mainstay at Akron Children’s. A lot of them didn’t make it. Of course, at the time, the survival rate for my disease was less then 60 percent.
When I think about those patients — Melissa, Todd, John, Shelby, Laura Jo, Tim, Terri — I think about why I’m really running, and it comes down to this: I’m running because they can’t.
- See more at: http://inside.akronchildrens.org/2014/07/21/after-surviving-childhood-cancer-running-marathons-is-my-way-to-give-back/#sthash.uQPNNITy.dpuf
Jun 16, 2014 by Matt Tullis
We were eating our final dinner in the Outer Banks Saturday night when I looked to the right in the small restaraunt and noticed a little girl, about 8 or 9 years old, with a bandana covering a bald head. I knew the look immediately. It was one I sports more than two decades ago. There were six people in the family, including four kids. They all looked happy to be on the beach, away from real life. I imagine it had been a great week for them.
When they were ready to leave, the waitress told them their bill had already been paid by another couple in the restaurant. The mom wanted to leave a tip but didn't have any cash on her. The waitress repeated that everything had been taken care of. A short time later, the couple sitting directly behind us cashed out. I couldn't hear what the waitress was saying to them, but it took a while to get everything settled.
After they left, the waitress brought our food. We had never gotten our appetizer, but after she explained what had happened, we didn't care. The couple sitting behind us were in the Outer Banks on vacation after having lost their own baby to cancer. The waitress didn't specify exactly how long ago this had happened, but it didn't really matter. They paid for the little girl their baby never had a chance to be.
This is why I do Team In Training, so scenarios like this don't play out ever again. Please consider donating. Every penny helps.
Back with Team In Training
May 30, 2014 by Matt Tullis
I'm excited to do my second event with Team In Training. This year, I'll be running the Akron Marathon and raising at least $1,350 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This will be my first full-length marathon, and I couldn't have picked a more perfect first marathon.
You see, the finish line for the Akron Marathon is less than half a mile from Akron Children's Hospital, where I was treated for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 1991. I'll be running the streets my parents drove every day as they came to stay with me in the hospital, the same streets we drove on a regular basis for more than two years as my treatments stretched into the spring of 1993.
So please help me reach my goal. I'd love to raise more than $2,000 this time around. Last year, when I did the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Half-Marathon in Cleveland, I raised $1,500 for LLS, and I certainly want to raise more than that this time around.
Every little penny counts.
My Fundraising Page
Mar 18, 2014
Teams are made up of individuals. Without them, there is no team.
Welcome to my Team In Training home page.
I have a mission-to help find cures and more effective treatments for blood cancers. To accomplish that mission, I’m participating in a sports endurance event as a member of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training. Like the other members of TNT, I will be raising funds to help find cures and better treatments for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma. I’m improving the quality of my life by participating and with your support, I can help improve the quality of life for patients and their families as well.
Please make a donation in support of my efforts with Team In Training and help advance the research for cures.