My Fundraising Page
Nov 16, 2015
I have joined Team-in-Training this year to help raise funds to find a cure for blood cancers. The way it works is simple: I raise money for LLS and to repay me for all my hard fundraising work, they take me on long runs in the cold, dark Denver winter evenings. They take me swimming in outdoor pools and make fun of me for having really crappy form. And when the training is all done, I run a triathlon.
I’m going to be real straight with you. Cancer is awful and it makes me really uncomfortable too. I don’t mean “makes me uncomfortable” in the sense that I fear a cancer diagnosis, although that is certainly true. What I mean is that cancer demands a certain set of skills that I am not particularly well suited for. It requires a lot of patient listening. It requires dealing with and potentially sharing emotions. I don’t want to make this all about me. And certainly I know that “dealing with emotions” is a lot easier and a lot more rewarding that dealing with actual cancer. But if you’re reading this, you know me. Navigating the emotional world is….uncomfortable for me. The waiting is worse.
I work in health sciences. In fact, I am very proud that as part of my job I was able to help write Colorado’s next five-year cancer plan. (I was one of hundreds of people, but still it was nice to contribute.) I also helped review some grants the Colorado’s Cancer Fund awarded. I did not find these (hopefully useful) tasks at all uncomfortable. Quite the opposite, really. It was nice to be doing something active and proactive in a world that so often leaves us with nothing to do but wait. You go to chemo and you wait. You go home from chemo and you wait. You get a new diagnostic test and you wait. You go into remission and you wait.
My stepmom died from cancer at the very beginning of the year. A friend from high school died a few months ago. Another friend from high school sends regular updates on her husband’s current battle. Cancer killed my dog. When I attended the kick off meeting for this year’s Team in Training season, we were asked to stand if a friend, family member, or co-worker had been diagnosed with cancer. Every single person in the room was standing. I work in data. I’m aware of selection bias. One would suspect a greater number of those directly affected by cancer in a room full of people dedicating the next six months of their lives to fundraising for a cure. Still, it was shocking.
It was more powerful to meet people who had been fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for years before a family member was diagnosed. What are the odds?
Actually, not as rare as we might like. This is the 45th week of the year, which means that over 137,000 people have received that diagnoses since January 1st. Another 30,000 will still get their initial diagnosis before December 31st. They’re out there. Just waiting. They don’t even know it yet. They’ll wake up in the middle of the night, with shortness of breath. They will think it’s a panic attack or sudden onset asthma. They’ll go through a normal day thinking, “something just doesn’t feel right.” And they will make a doctors appointment. About 4,000 of 2015's diagnoses will be younger than 20 years old. Blood cancers make up about a third of all cancers diagnosed in children, adolescents, and young adults.
But there is good news.
Survival rates from blood cancers are high and getting higher. New drugs are being developed all the time. Much of this work is thanks to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which, over the course of their lifespan as an organization has been able to raise over a billion dollars for cancer research.
I assume most of you follow me on Facebook, so you know I’m a huge advocate for making sure the money you donate to non-profits is well spent. I’m happy to report that LLS and the Team-in-Training program has a fantastic rating from Charity Navigator (I wouldn’t have joined if this wasn’t true.)
I’m not good at waiting. So I’m not going to.
As the weeks go by (race day is April 10) I will be updating you on my training status, and I will also be hosting fundraisers (both in-person and online). I hope I can make this fun and interesting for all of you. At the very least, you can cherish the thoughts of me clumping around various Denver neighborhoods with snotty icicles hanging from my beard. But in the meantime, please feel free to support the cause and help me reach my fundraising goal.