Sep 23, 2014 by Polly Wright
I want to thank everyone who supported me in my efforts to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I did reach and exceed my personal goal of raising $6,000 ($100 for each of my 60 years) for the 2014 season. It started with the Sleepy Hollow Sprint Triathlon in June and continued with the Jardin Westchester Triathlon this past Sunday.
Making my triathlon comeback after almost 8 years was exhilarating, especially doing it on behalf of Team in Training. It would not have been possible without my coaches and teammates who were so encouraging and inspiring.
The race was not without it challenges. It was twice the distance of any race I had completed this season of comebacks. I wasn't sure how I would do with the run, having just started running again in March. Also I had only covered 6 miles twice in training. However in this race, just getting to the run was the big challenge. Around mile 15 on the bike course I crashed. The roads were slippery and I was avoiding a car that was on the course. I got up and once I determined the bike and I were okay (more or less) I decided I would try to finish the race. My thoughts were on people like Sally, our coach Matt and Steve (he was supposed to race with us, but had a relapse and is back in chemo) who have fought hard and endured a lot in their battle against their blood cancers. I think it was pure adrenaline and knowing my cuts and bruises were minor compared to having chemo, that got me to the run and eventually the finish line.
The triathlon maybe over, but the battle against blood cancers continues. Many of my triathlon teammates and I have decided we'll continue our quest to help the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in their mission to help find a cure for blood cancers. We've signed up to do America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride, June TH, 2015.
9/11 and Blood Cancers
Sep 12, 2014 by Polly Wright
Yesterday I posted this picture of Matt and me on Facebook. Matt continually wears his red bandana in honor of Welles Crowther who selflessly gave himself to save others from the WTC on 9/11/01. If you don't know his story Google Welles Crowther and watch the ESPN video of his story. It was my way of remembering 9/11 but also remembering the mission I'm on right now.
The events of 9/11 killed many people that day, but the aftermath has impacted many lives of the people who spent day after day working at the WTC site. Very fit and healthy people found themselves with unexplained aches, pains and illnesses that cropped up many months later. Many of these illnesses ended out being various forms of blood cancers.
Read this article from 2006 Village Voice http://www.villagevoice.com/2006-11-21/news/death-by-dust/.
There you will learn about:
NYPD Detective Ernie Vallebuona who worked on the pile came down with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2004. Endured much chemo-therapy and a stem cell transplant.
NYPD Detective John Walcott who worked both on the pile at WTC but also Fresh Kills, came down with Acute Mylogenous Leukemia in 2003.
Jessy Mc Carthy a phone worker for Verizon spent 13 months working to restore phone lines in lower Manhattan. In October of 2004 he noticed a lump the size of a marble under his arm. By March of 2005 he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
AT&T manager Gary Acker spent 33 days downtown helping set up a satellite at 1 Police Plaza and manning phone lines across the street from the Pile. He came down with multiple myloma. Sadly he lost his battle with the disease in March of 2012.
There are many others who come down with various blood cancers that seem to be linked to their time working down at the WTC center site. There will probably be more in the upcoming years.
Let's not forget the horrors of 9/11 and let's help the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society continue their mission of finding a cure and supporting the patients and family that are dealing with these diseases. Please make a donation now!
Sep 09, 2014 by Polly Wright
One of my fundraising projects has been selling my totally decedant chocolate chip cookies. I feel a little guilty because I'm kind of like a pusher. However instead of pushing drugs I'm pushing my cookies. Once someone tries them, they keep coming back for more. My teammates are some of my biggest customers. However unless like the drug pusher, the proceeds from these sales go to an amazing cause.
This past weekend I sold a bunch at the Toughman Triathlon. There were a number TNT'ers racing, 6 members of Skippy's Team, a number of alumni and coaches. I was thrilled to see long time, mentor and swim coach Sue Klein fight through some difficult challenges to complete the 70.3 miles of swimming, biking and running.
I also delighted to catch up with Charles, a teammate from 2005. He didn't know how to swim when he started training for St. Anthony's that winter. He survived the swim and went on to do Westchester in the fall of 2005. He's also survived blood cancer. I had wondered what had become of him. He had some rough times including a relapse. However he made his comeback at Toughman. That's one heck of a race to pick for one's triathlon comeback.
Those are are two tough cookies in the middle surrounded by their fans and supporters. I'm proud to be able to race and raise money to help people likes Charles and my run coach Matt survive the rigors of treatment and then become amazing and inspiring examples of what the funding and research for treatments is doing in peoples lives.
Go Team!! I made my mininimum of $2,000 with the cookie sales this weekend, but still aiming for $3,000 for a total of $6,000 for my two events this year. There is still time to help me reach that next goal.
Tri-ing In Honor of Sally.
Aug 29, 2014 by Polly Wright
I like to introduce you to Sally.
I met her this summer while I was up at Camp Onaway taking pictures of all the campers and staff for the camp’s yearbook “The Tag Board” that is published each year. It was Sally’s first summer at camp. Like her older sister who was there for her second summer, she loved it! Having spent 9 summers there myself, I know how special it is.
However Sally’s story is much different than the typical 9 year old that goes to sleep away camp for the first time. During camper introductions she shared that she had survived cancer.
Here’s her story shared with me by her mom:
“Sally fell ill in the summer of 2008, at the age of 3. At first, her pediatrician and I thought she was suffering from anemia, and we gave her iron supplements, but her fatigue soon grew very extreme and she was complaining of aches and pains. Finally, in early July, she was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. She was admitted to Tufts Floating Hospital for Children, where she received fantastic care.
It was a tough road for such a little girl. The chemotherapy made her very sick, and because her immune system was so weak from the chemo, she could not leave the sterile environment of the hospital room for a month. Dave and I took turns holding her and comforting her and helping the medical staff with the complicated schedule of medicine, examinations, and baths. Despite her fear and discomfort, she wanted very much to do "regular kid stuff", like being read to, playing with toys and games, and art projects (sometimes in the middle of the night because she wasn't sleeping very well!). The Child-Life staff was absolutely phenomenal. They would show up with giant buckets full of toys, art supplies, and videos.
We still had a long road ahead of us when she returned home. Treatment of ALL in children requires long-term chemotherapy for two more years. During that time, the medicine often made her sick and grumpy, and at times her immune system was so weak she had to be confined to home and isolated from other children. She required many blood tests to monitor her progress, and had to be re-admitted to the hospital whenever she had a fever. Still, she managed to sail through it with an amazing sense of humor and zest for life. She began kindergarten at 5, and now, at 9, she has been cancer-free for five years. You would never know that she was that sick. I can't keep up with her!”
Sally is one tough cookie who has survived quite the ordeal.
This fall I am doing the Jardin Westchester Triathlon in honor of my fellow Onaway girl, Sally Nagle. Her story is a remarkable one that has been made possible by all the treatments that have been researched and developed thanks to funding by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). This is possible because of everyone who has donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Sally’s mom told me, “Sally is pretty psyched that you have chosen to do the race in her honor--not so much because of the attention, but because she recognizes the importance of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's work and raising funds for cancer research and patient support.”
I'm psyched too! Let’s show Sally how much we care by making a donation. My goal is to raise at least $3,000 for this event. I’m about half way there now. Help me meet and exceed this goal in helping make it possible for LLS to continue its important work in helping find a cure for all blood cancers.
Make a donation now, and share this with all your friends!
Jul 25, 2014 by Polly Wright
...from vacation. I'm now ready to continue my triathlon comeback and to raise more much needed funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. In case you missed how the Sleepy Hollow Sprint Triathlon went you can read about it by copying and pasting the following link. http://pages.teamintraining.org/wch/sleephol14/pwrighton4. Or for a more detailed "race report" you can read about that by copying and pasting this link. http://nytrigal.blogspot.com/2014/07/im-backkkkkkkkkk-sleepy-hollow-sprint.html
Although I was in Alaska for two and half weeks, the TNT mission was on my mind. I met numerous people during my travels who have been impacted by blood cancers, including the daughter of Susan Butcher. Susan was a four time winner of the Iditarod sled dog race. She died of leukemia in 2006. Susan's daughters and husband are continuing to raise and train sled dogs. Her daughter Tekla is preparing to race her first Iditarod. Her dad has done events for Team in Training.
Beating the odds.
One of the most amazing places I visited during my vacation was Denali National Park and Preserve. Over 6 million acres of wilderness. Although all the wildlife and scenery is spectacular, people come hoping to see a glimpse of the elusive Mt. McKinley. Only 30% of visitors get to see Mt. McKinley (aka Denali) in her full glory. Thanks to all the work being done by the Leukemia & Lymphoma the five-year survival rate for various blood cancers had better odds then seeing Mt. McKinley.
Hodgkin Lymphoma 88% up from 40% during 1960 - 1963
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 71% up from 31% during 1960 - 1963
Leukemia 59% up from 14% during 1960 - 1963
Myeloma 45% up from 12% during 1960 - 1963.
During my visit I was part of that 30% who saw Mt. McKinley. I can't improve your odds of seeing Mt. McKinley except through the view of my camera lens.
However what I can do with your donations is help the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society continue their mission to find a cure and improve the odds of survival for those battling these blood cancers.
Please click on the DONATE NOW button and help me reach my $6,000 goal for my year of turning 60.