The Reason I am Doing It.

It was my brother's idea at first, he told me he had looked into doing a sponsored bike ride in England. The idea was to raise money for leukemia research because our mother had been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2005. Since I enjoy cycling, raising money for leukemia research while bike riding sounded perfect. An evening of "Googling" later, I had found Team In Training, a group that fund-raise with endurance sports for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I initially registered for the 2007 Lake Tahoe event, but had to drop out when it became aparent that Mum was losing her battle with leukemia. This year I am back and intent on raising $5000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The event I am training for is a 100-mile bike ride around Lake Tahoe on June 1st 2008. Because of the altitude (6,225ft.) and the distance, training is important. So, every Saturday for 5 months I will be getting up at 6:00 a.m. to join my team for training rides. There will be a lot of hills to climb!

So when the training gets tough, I look down at the top tube of my bike where I carry 2 names that inspire me to push on. The names are, my Mum – Ruth Davies, and my Aunt Meg, both of whom lost their lives to blood diseases. My Mum, as many of you already know, passed away last year from Leukemia (AML). I thank God for the 14 months of remission she had and the last vacation we spent together in February 2006. At the end of 2006, the leukemia returned and this time there was no stopping it. After wasting away, my mother died in April of 2007. Similarly, my Aunt Meg passed away in February of 1993 after an 11-year battle against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. What these two women endured is infinitely more than any discomfort I feel during my training.

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, go to: TNT Donate

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Week 13 - May 3rd 2008 - Distance 74.19 miles

Midweek Training: No Sunday ride this week, since I was packing to return home from England! On Tuesday I rode 10.5 miles after work. However, I made the mistake of eating just before I went out to ride. Note to self; regurgitated pizza does not taste good - allow more time after eating before riding. Thursday I resumed what has become my weekly ritual - ride to work and home again. Only this time I rode the extra distance to Greenacres in Simi to get a tri-tip sandwich that I took home to eat. It was delicious! A great way to end the 30.5 mile ride.

Group Ride: Saturday's ride was out of Malibu. So that meant getting up extra early 5:00 a.m. to get ready and arrive in plenty of time. This week I was presenting the "mission moment". This is when a team member shares with the group about someone they know of with leukemia or other cancer that they are riding in honor of in order to remind us all of why we are riding each week. This week it was my turn. I had stayed up late the night before, putting together something to share. When It came my turn to share I explained how I had missed last week's ride due to my being in England for the first anniversary of my mum's death. Then I read from my prepared paper. I came close to breaking down once, but was able to finish. (I have posted my mission Moment below). After some other business it was time to ride out.

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day. The beach weather was just perfect, never getting too warm, but just sunny enough to balance the chill of the light breeze. We started by pedalling along the Pacific Coast Highway, PCH, and it wasn't long until we passed one of the many sections of beaches along the coast. Right then I knew it was going to be an emotional day for me. I had been reflecting on my mission moment speech and seeing the waves breaking on the edge of the Pacific gave me a knot in my throat. You see, Mum had always loved the water, and had on her trips to California she had often paddled in the surf at the edge of the vast ocean. She would have enjoyed seeing me make this trip too! After a few miles we swung inland, making the 5.2 mile climb to the top of Encinal Canyon Road. Just less than halfway up I snapped this incredible view.

The rest of the day's ride was spent riding along the beautiful coast out past Point Magu, to the strawberry fields of Oxnard before returning along PCH to Malibu. The whole day, my calf muscles burned as we pressed on. In the end we finished our 74 mile ride in around 6 hours, and that included stops. My butt was the sorest it has ever been. Taking the advice of a friend, I vow to use the chamois cream next week!

My Mission Moment.
My motivation to bike and fund raise for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is personal. In February 2005 my mother, Ruth, was taken ill. At first, after showing signs of confusion, the doctors suspected a mild stroke. After blood tests it was revealed that it was Leukemia. Of course I was clueless about Leukemia and so my education began. There are four major types of Leukemia. My mother had AML, Acute Myloid Leukemia. Furthermore, this specific Leukemia can be broken down into seven different classifications. Shortly after diagnosis I made a trip to England to meet the consultant as he discussed treatment options with my mother. He gave three options; the option to do nothing beyond making her comfortable, a low intensity chemotherapy session, or a high intensity chemotherapy session.

It was very difficult for me to summarize the treatment options for my mother; spelling out the pros and cons and the life expectancy (looking back it is horrifying how accurate they were for my mum). It was hard to be objective, in the end letting it be her decision. She opted for the Low Intensity Chemotherapy, an option that made her eligible for a special trial drug. It was a drug that had been used here in the USA with success.

As the treatment started, the education continued; white cell counts, neutrophil levels, and others that I have forgotten. Each bringing indications of effectiveness of the treatment and with it news of increased susceptibility to infection.

Towards the end of 2005 we had great news, the Leukemia was in remission. Mum took the opportunity to travel both in England and visiting me here in California for my birthday in Feb of 2006. I have great memories of that trip; riding the Amtrak, wine tasting, precious moments enjoying her granddaughter.

At the end of 2006 the 14 months of remission was over as Mum relapsed. The old treatment wasn’t an option anymore – the body develops a resistance to each treatment. The new treatment wasn’t as effective. It wiped out her immune system and when we visited at Christmas she was suffering from an intestinal bug.

I last saw Mum when I surprised her with a visit in early April on her 66th birthday. She was bedridden, in hospital, and awaiting transfer to a hospice. She had lost so much weight; she was like a skin covered skeleton. Yet, behind the appearance was my mother, we had a good week together and were able to talk. When I left the end was near, and just a week after my visit she passed into unconsciousness and subsequently passed away on April 22nd 2007.

I really miss her.

To end on a positive note; I have rediscovered the joy of cycling that I experienced in my teens. And more importantly, I am happy to be raising money to find a cure, and also to make life better for those who are affected by Leukemia now. It is something I can do to help.

Fund-raising: I received the check from The Habit Burger, $87.17, for last month's fundraiser. The grand total raised so far has passed $6,250!

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Brian,

Congratulations on surpassing your original goal of $5,000!!! That is excellent!! I just read your Mission Moment and WOW, I'm still crying!! That was written with heart and I was truly touched.

Glad to hear you were able to share the one year anniversary of your Mom's passing with your Dad and Brother in April! I'm sure it meant a great deal, especially to your Dad. He is truly blessed to have two supportive sons!!

Well good luck with your ride!! I'll be praying that it goes smoothly...sounds like you are WELL prepared for it, whew...74.19 miles in 6 hours?!!! You have two wonderful ladies to inspire you and your wonderful wife and daughter to cheer you on.

Take care!
Diane (Judy's car pool partner)