LLS, TNT, & SSB

I feel like this recent relapse and treatment has further strengthened my relationship with Team in Training and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I don’t know if strengthened is the right word, perhaps validated is or fortified. Whatever the word is… it all feels even more connected. I’ve been symptomatic all year to varying degrees. This required me to cycle off and on steroids over several months, monitor blood levels far more often than I like, and consider a potential treatment path forward when the time became right. TNT and LLS was in my corner every step of the way.

All the while, I kept up with my own racing and training but more importantly continued to coach the triathlon group for Team in Training. I had another very memorable event with Team at the TriRock Philly triathlon and was able to celebrate the finishes and victories with some awesome people. Once TriRock Philly was over, it was time to dig in and get to the root of the solution to my ever present symptoms.

Add in to the mix the many cool things I was able to do with or for LLS again this year such as speaking and being a part of a couple of Man & Woman of the Year events and emceeing the TriRock Inspirational Dinner in June. I also had a handful of media opportunities to talk about LLS, TNT, my own personal story, and how wonderful it is that all of those pieces fit so nicely together. I’ve met many fellow survivors and their families and with each passing day, that network; OUR network gets stronger. I’ve been able to promote LLS and TNT as amazing organizations that I stand not behind, but in front of 200%

And now I have a new opportunity. Now the coach, mentor, volunteer, spokesperson, poster boy has once again become the patient. Or the active patient. I guess I’m always the patient as long as my condition is chronic. It’s an opportunity to take everything I’ve learned in 10 years as a patient and 10 years as a TNT coach and apply it. It’s an opportunity to learn more about me and about the new drugs I’m being treated with and it’s an opportunity to gain even greater insight and empathy about the physical and emotional impacts of disease and treatment on both the patient and the supporter and take them forward to help others.

I’m wiser than I was 10 years ago when I was first diagnosed. 10 years ago my treatment felt more like a Frazer vs Ali championship bout. I’m more strategic this time around. The relationship between my doctor and I has matured. 10 years ago I was scared and clueless. Today, he and I have meaningful conversations and I feel that he values my input as much as I value his. He knows I’m an informed patient and he knows that nobody knows my body the way I do. That makes for very healthy dialogue.

Drugs are smarter too, and there is a great arsenal of weapons to choose from. I’m still going to beat the dripping snot  out of this thing, but my mindset is slightly different. More controlled, more mature, more methodical, more confident, and at the end of the day, more definitive.

As many of you know, one round of treatment is down and I have 3 more to go. So far, so good. Check that. So far, great. I’m on the right path to healing.  I’m seeing results with minimal (and manageable) side effects. I am again thankful that I have treatment options – good options. And I’m optimistic about the many more options that are in various stages of development, approval, and release. Leading the way in so many of these options is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The future looks bright because someday really is today. Thanks for all you do LLS.

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