Many of you know I’ve challenged myself to participate in the Hartford Half Marathon on October 10 this year. I decided this after my 8th heart procedure, a thus far successful cardiac ablation of a recurrent atrial fibulation and tachycardia, both of which I am hypersensitive to. This A-Fib and A-Tach are both just co-morbid symptoms of a larger heart condition I live with, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, that I was diagnosed with back in 1993, the same heart condition that killed my Mother at age 42, and her father at age 48, essentially without warning.
Notice I say I live with cardiomyopathy – it is not killing me. Research, medications, and treatments have come a long way in the 25 years since my Mother’s death. The awareness of my condition makes all the difference as well. I also consciously decided I wanted to be here for my children, and knew to do that, I needed to lose weight. In the last few years, I have lost a current total of 110 pounds, just 22 pounds shy of my goal weight. This was certainly not an easy feat, but most definitely a life altering and worthwhile endeavor to undertake. The pursuit of health usually is…no matter the cost.
Which brings me to my next revelation – we can never, ever take our health, and the health of our loved ones from granted. Even the most physically fit individual cannot predict when or if something unprecedented will happen to them. Life is unpredictable. Only God knows the future, every breath we will take, every decision we will make.
So as I am preparing for this marathon, this ultimate challenge of my stamina and strength, it occurred to me that this is the perfect platform for more than just my personal victory. This is the excellent opportunity to bring light to just how fortunate we are – the healthy – those whose families are whole. And while my family, my children have their struggles, no one is fighting for their life each day.
I have this friend, Emily, who I had the fortune to meet through her work with autism. She does not have first-hand experience with autism other than her education and work – she is a Behavior Analyst by trade, and a mother by the grace of God. We met through volunteerism, which was an incredible gift to us both, and as Heaven would see fit, the night before the main event, she gave birth to her second child, Kiley – the most precious fair-skinned, red-haired beauty this side of Ireland. Thanks to a last minute substitution by her mother, our event went off unscathed, and Kiley grew into a spunky sprite…until just prior to her 5th birthday, when an unusual limp and accompanying symptoms prompted Emily to bring her into CT Children’s Hospital. The diagnosis, just days after her landmark birthday – Stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive cancer of the soft connective that impacts only about 350 children in the US per year.
For the past 18 months, Kiley has been fighting to beat this cancer with warrior strength. She’s undergone an extensive regime of radiation and chemotherapy all in an effort to “kick cancer’s butt!” Kiley held her own fundraiser earlier this year and raised enough money for an incredible machine housed in the Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute in Ft. Collins, Colorado. There Dr. Charles Keller, scientific director, works tirelessly to research therapies for childhood cancers, including ARMS, Kiley’s type of cancer.
Working to find why the cancer cells metastasize, or develop in new locations in the body, is paramount in advancing the outcome for kids like Kiley. But all this research takes funding. Currently the National Cancer Institute only allots 4% of funds raised for pediatric cancer research – 4%. This is woefully inadequate, for Kiley, for other children like her, for anyone.
That is why I have decided to challenge you, my friends, to partner with me as I participate in this Marathon. I KNOW how fortunate I am – every day I can walk and breathe is a gift from God. My children – their health and well-being – yet another gift. Our safety in a country that is free from violence; gift. Freedom to worship the god we choose (or not); gift. A roof over our heads; gift. Food, clothing; gift, gift. I could go on and on, but I think you get my point.
So, add up you gifts right now – just a simple list – and think about how thankful you are for what you have. Think about that 4% and how much more your children are worth to you. Think about anyone you know who’s been touched by cancer, anyone at all. Think of anyone you’ve lost – the pain, the grief…now imagine burying your small child. What might you give to avoid that unimaginable agony?
I’ve started a donation fund in honor of #TeamKiley , where 100% of your donations will go directly to the cc-TDI lab in Colorado and directly benefit Dr. Keller’s work. I believe in the power of prayer. I also believe God is still in the business of miracles, even today. Kiley has lost several friends in the 18 months since her diagnosis – this disease is very real and very deadly – children who will never graduate high school, enjoy their 1st real kiss, attend college, walk down the aisle with their lover, and blossom into their parents hopes and dreams.
There are 30 days left until the Marathon. 30 days to make a difference in the life of a Warrior Princess. Look at this child:
4% is insulting for this beautiful child – for any child. Let’s send a message to the NCI – our children are worth 1000% – and if you are incapable, we’ll just show you how it’s done! Heck, I’ll walk to whole 26.2 miles if I have to until my voice is heard – you’re my people…you know I will do it!
Please, please tally your ‘gifts’ and make a donation today. I’ve set a moderate goal for us to attain, but I have faith we’ll blow that right out of the water. Thanking you all in advance!
Here’s the link: http://www.gofundme.com/an3tjuuc