Brad's Fundraising Page

My Story and Why I Am Running
Mar 09, 2018

Hi everyone!

I want to thank you for your time to review my page and to read this post. This is a long post, but I hope you get an understanding about my relationship with cancer and how important organizations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are.

Many of you know that I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) a little more than a month before I turned 14. Also, this past September, my grandpa passed away due complications that stemmed from a fight with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). I want to take some time to tell a bit of my story and what/why I am fundraising for.

It was November 10, 1998 when I had felt unusually tired and looked a little pale after the first day of basketball tryouts for the 8th grade boys team at Westwood Jr. High School in Elyria, Ohio. I had been fighting flu-like symptoms on and off for about three weeks. At dinner that night, my parents decided to take me to the hospital to get checked out and see if there was something that I could be prescribed that would help me start feeling better so that I could make the basketball team.

I remember waiting in the hospital room with my mom while my dad was at home with my younger brother and two sisters. As a typical insensitive and ignorant 13-year-old boy might do, I made the joke with my mom that I had cancer while waiting for the doctor to come into the room. Little did I (we) know. The doctor came in and initially asked me if I had heard of mononucleosis. I had not, but then when rephrased his question and said mono, I knew what he was talking about. Mono was their initial thought in what was causing me to feel sick and is commonly so when suffering from the symptoms I was having. After being in the ER all night, going through a few tests, and my dad taking over for my mom, I had been discharged at about 5:00 in the morning. As my dad and I were driving out of the parking lot and back home, I remember making the comment, “At least I don’t have mono.” I think he responded with a laugh similar in tone to Red Foreman's from That 70’s Show as he's calling someone a “Dumbass.” I was not aware of anything at this point, but the doctor in the ER had told my dad what he thought the issue was.

The next day I obviously stayed home from school and we went to my pediatrician that morning around lunchtime. I remember my pediatrician coming in, maybe giving me a general check-up, then asking me to go to the waiting room while she talked to my parents. Eventually, my parents came out. I would later find out that she had confirmed with my parents that I had leukemia. My dad told me that we’d have to pack a bag and stay at a hospital in Cleveland called Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital for a few nights. I was kind of excited. Sounds crazy, but as a 13-year-old kid, it sounded "cool" at the time. I still had no idea what was about to hit me. And then I did... When we left the doctor’s office and my dad tells me to sit in the front seat. That is when I knew it was serious. Sitting in the front seat was a luxury for my three siblings and me back then. We went through the Burger King drive-thru to get lunch, home to pack my bag, and then up to the hospital.

I was still somewhat oblivious to what was going on. I understood that I was sick, but didn’t know how real it was. We checked-in and were setup in the hospital room. It was a large double room that I would have to myself for the next 10 nights. A team of doctors came in, which can be slightly intimidating, and that’s when they told me. I had cancer. I was a 13-year-old boy and I was just told that I had cancer. I remember that I had cried once hearing that from the doctors. It was a scary thing. The doctors gave my parents and me a few minutes to kind of “soak it in” and gather ourselves. Maybe 10-15 minutes later, they came back and described what leukemia was, the statistics behind it, and the next steps. I’m not sure when this discussion was had, but it was in the first 24 hours or so of being in the hospital that we talked about being on a study. It concerned me at first because I was not sure if I would be able to receive the best treatment plan for me. After some discussion, the driving point for me was that the doctors said it would be for a good cause, to use my experience help find a cure for this disease. I can remember exactly what I was thinking then and knew that I had to do it. I had to be treated one way or another and so I may as well help others in the meantime.

The point at which the doctors came back into my room after initially telling me about my diagnosis was when I last remember feeling bad for myself about the situation. At that time, I was no longer a 13-year-old kid. I was forced to grow up instantly and face one of life’s greatest challenges head on. My life went from walking to bus stops, doing homework, and playing basketball to doctor appointments sometimes multiple days of the week (once I got my driver's license I even had to drive myself the 35-45 minutes each way through Cleveland, Ohio), using the little pill cases so that I would remember to take my medicine each day (I remember taking 20 or more pills at a time on some occasions; hence the need for the pill cases), and spinal taps every couple of months. I was considered a "late responder” in that I did not go into remission until about six weeks after I was diagnosed. If I remember correctly it was 2-3 days before Christmas when I was told that I was in remission. I had two weeks of radiation (because I was a late responder) and about 3.5 years of treatment before it was all said and done. My last dose of chemotherapy was on March 2, 2002. But I think most would agree when I say that, late responder or not, I am lucky. I never relapsed and ‘I am alive’ (MB) and living well today.

The challenge that presented itself was one that a young teenage kid, or anyone, should never have to face and brought along a steep learning curve with the necessity to go from being a child to a man. I was forced to grow, forced to learn how to fight, and forced to learn how to live. But that has not stopped me. I graduated high school, with honors. I went away for college to the University of Toledo for my first three semesters. I then moved to an area of the country that I had wanted to move to since before I had gotten sick by transferring to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I have a bachelor’s degree in business and completed my master’s degree in data science from Southern Methodist University last May. I currently reside in Apex, North Carolina. I have had the opportunity to travel, make friends, and start a family. And most importantly, I reiterate that I have had the opportunity to start a family. I have the most AMAZING wife, Kathleen, and three-year-old daughter, Kennedy. Every bit of joy I have had since I met Kathleen is because of her and Kennedy!

Because of my battle with leukemia, I have always thought that there is a different plan for me. I may not be the next Bill Gates, Lebron James, or even the one that discovers a cure for cancer. But I can live. Because of the work that has been done by so many doctors, nurses, and organizations, so many people, including myself, would not be here today.

I began running about 10 months ago, just after I finished my master’s degree last year. I knew I had to do something to get off my butt and not rot away in the newly created free time that I would have from not focusing on homework. I chose running not just for the health benefits, but also for the competition. I completed my first half marathon in November in just under two hours.

Through my journey over the last year I have learned that there are many parallels in my battle with leukemia and running, or more specifically, running a marathon. It is a long hard-fought battle with yourself. It requires persistence, preparation, support of friends and family, the desire to fight, and most importantly to live.

I am one of the lucky few that have been selected to participate in the TCS NYC Marathon on November 4, 2018. This falls exactly one week to the day before the 20th anniversary of my official diagnosis, November 11. I have chosen to use my lottery selection as a means for me to give back. Just as I had been a part of the study treatment plan, I want to use the opportunity presented to do my part in the fight against leukemia. 

By reading this you are probably very aware that I am also running to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as a teammate in their Team In Training (TNT) program. The work they do and the donations they receive go to researching cures for blood cancers. It is such an important cause and has allowed so many people, like myself, to live.

I ask you to support the fight against Leukemia and Lymphoma with me by donating to my TNT fundraising page. I have not been assigned a large goal, but know that every little bit truly helps in the fight while I hope to exceed the goal of $1250.

And lastly, I want to put a personal disclaimer out there. I have already secured my spot in the race and TNT is NOT providing that for me as it may be for others. The only tangible benefits that I receive by meeting my fundraising goal is a participation t-shirt, dinner before the race, and some training tools and tips. My decision to run with TNT is to utilize the platform for a purpose that is important to me, not for entry to the race. And with how leukemia has affected my family and me, it is important to me.

 

Thank you for your support!

Brad

 

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My Fundraising Page
Mar 03, 2018

WELCOME TO MY TEAM IN TRAINING (TNT) HOME PAGE!

 

It takes more than one person to make up a team and that’s why I’m asking you to donate to my TNT fundraising page for TNT!

 

By participating as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) TNT, I am raising funds to help find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients.

 

Your donation will help fund treatments that save lives every day; like immunotherapies that use a person’s own immune system to kill cancer. You may not know it, but every single donation helps save a life with breakthrough therapies such as these.

 

Patients need these cures and they need your support.

 

Please make a donation in support of my efforts with Team In Training and help get us all closer to a world without blood cancers.

 

Thank you!

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Supporter Comments

  •  
    "Keep running toward the future.c7CK"
     

    Judy Lemon

    Fri Mar 09 06:44:30 EST 2018

  •  
    "You go Brad.......Wish Hap would have had the honor of meeting you! "
     

    Dolores Harral

    Fri Mar 09 06:45:49 EST 2018

  •  
    "Good Luck, Brad!"
     

    Martha Davidson

    Fri Mar 09 07:54:01 EST 2018

  •  
    "Happy to support you and your efforts Brad. Best of luck for the race and all that you do!"
     

    Don & Deb Sheldon

    Sun Mar 11 08:18:50 EDT 2018

  •  
    "Brad, you were destined for this! Gram"
     

    Patricia Tweardy

    Sun Mar 11 09:54:45 EDT 2018

  •  
    "You are an inspiration!"
     

    Modern Yoga

    Sat Aug 25 10:33:41 EDT 2018

  •  
    "Love you Brad!"
     

    Coleen Coyne

    Thu Apr 19 10:15:55 EDT 2018

  •  
    "Brad - Wishing you all the best -- and for such a great cause close to our hearts! Your grandfather would be so very proud of you! We enjoyed some nice times with them in Port St. Lucie. Beth Ann Pischke & Paul Palermo"
     

    Beth Ann Pischke

    Thu Mar 15 03:44:16 EDT 2018

  •  
    "Wow, Brad, wow! Your story is such a testament to your strength, courage, determination, faith, and heart. And we know but also pray that these same qualities will help you to run an amazing race come November! We are proud to know you, but even more proud of the good work you are doing to raise not only money but also awareness. Hugs, Beth & Roman "
     

    Mary Schwarz

    Thu Mar 15 07:11:30 EDT 2018

  •  
    "Good luck Brad Theresa and Jack Dunn"
     

    Theresa And Jack dunn

    Tue Mar 13 12:45:38 EDT 2018

  •  
    "Good Luck Brad!"
     

    Joey Vaccaro

    Fri Mar 09 09:09:40 EST 2018

  •  
    "Modern Yoga's June 22nd donation class. "
     

    Modern Yoga

    Mon Jul 09 12:33:47 EDT 2018

My Fundraising Total

Raised: $1,105.00 | Goal: $1,250.00
 
88 %

Make a Donation

Join Brad Tweardy in the Mission to wipe out blood cancer:

 Titanium $1,000.00
 Platinum $500.00
 Gold $250.00
 Silver $100.00
 Super $50.00
 Star $25.00
 Other $

My Thanks To

Don & Deb Sheldon $100.00
Martha Davidson $100.00
Stephanie Johnson $100.00
Modern Yoga $55.00
Modern Yoga $50.00
Coleen Coyne $50.00
Andrew Ford $50.00
Beth Ann Pischke $50.00
Ray Shady $50.00
Phil McRae $50.00
Joey Vaccaro $50.00
Judy Lemon $50.00
Doris Ferguson $25.00
Katie Jenkins  
Mary Schwarz  
Theresa And Jack dunn  
Patricia Tweardy  
Dolores Harral  
Brad Tweardy