Teva Pharmaceuticals Presentation

Last week I had the pleasure of telling my story to a group of Teva Pharmaceutical Oncology employees at their annual field meeting. If I could sum up the week in one word it would have to be “meaningful”. For those unfamiliar with the backstory, Teva manufactures the chemotherapy drug Bendeka. Bendeka was the drug I used (with great success) during my recent relapse and chemotherapy treatments. That successful series of treatments led to a great connection with the folks at Teva who then invited us to their annual meeting for me to speak and share my story.

My wife and I made some incredible connections with a great team of individuals who are committed to finding cures and improving the quality of life of those living with chronic cancer.  While I have told my story many times over the years to a wide array of audiences, there is something special about talking to a group of people whose livelihood is so cancer and oncology-centric. I received some great feedback on my presentation and my story in general and more thank yous than I can possibly count.  The Teva family embraced us as their own it was very clear how much they valued us being there.

Group CollageBut the reality is, we are the appreciative ones. Not only did we appreciate the invitation to spend time with the folks at Teva, we are immensely indebted to the work they are doing. I was a mess in 2016 plagued by a myriad of health issues that all ended up being related to my chronic lymphocytic leukemia relapse. Bendeka was my saving grace. Bendeka put me back on the path to remission, recovery, and rebirth. Bendeka allowed me to turn the page to a new beginning in 2017 with restored enthusiasm.

As I said in my presentation, every single Teva employee plays a part. You are all key components of a greater process or assembly line. The difference between you and those manufacturing widgets is that you are saving lives. The end result of your assembly line and process is human life. Don’t ever forget that every single person in your organization contributes to that end result.

To make things even sweeter, I had an oncology checkup upon returning from our trip. Not only was my blood work spot on perfect, I can now stop taking the oral meds  Allopurinol and Bactrim which I have been taking for almost 11 years as preventative drugs against the risks associated with my leukemia and related treatments. AND I do not need to go back in for another three months. I haven’t seen a three month window for well over a year. For all of 2016 I needed to check in with my oncolodoc every one to two months.

So for that and all of the work that you do, I say THANK YOU Teva. You are living, breathing examples of being the change we all want to see in the world.

Happy Dance.

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Wide Open Doors

For quite some time now I have stood by the statement that my leukemia diagnosis has opened more doors than it has closed and created more opportunities than it has taken away. I truly believe that but thought it would be even more enlightening to write down just what some of these opportunities have been. The more I began to think about them, the more abundant the list became. I’ve captured a few of the more meaningful ones below over 11 years of living above and not simply with a chronic form of leukemia. The truth is there are too many people and experiences for our time in this blog but trust me, they are all remembered. I hope you can read deep enough to understand that this disease has given me opportunities to do things that have been very meaningful for me and allowed me to connect with people on a “people” level. It’s given me the chance to know people outside of their respective life stages or arenas and talk about more meaningful things that have proven to be a common denominator for the human race as I know it – like passions and compassion. Every single event below has a direct link to my diagnosis.

For starters, I have to make mention of the incredible and long list of people I have met through my work with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Team in Training. This relationship has truly been life altering as I’ve been touched by so many people through the years. I signed on as a triathlon coach within a week of being diagnosed. And I cherish the relationships I’ve formed with people from all walks of life through this organization. Thank you leukemia.

In 2009 a mutual friend and former fellow goalie by the name of Shep Messing introduced me to a guy named Ethan Zohn. Shep told me that Ethan had just been diagnosed with lymphoma and that we were like-minded and would be good for each other. An instant friendship with Ethan was born and we continue to partner on all kinds of cool things, including life. My connection with Ethan has also enabled me to race the NYC Marathon 6 times and travel to South Africa to race the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in support of his charity, Grassroot Soccer. Thank you leukemia.

Through my association with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society I became connected with a FOX 29 news anchor named John Anderson. John was very active with LLS and this was another connection that quickly became and remains a good friendship. John and I have been able to do some cool things over the years including riding in the American Cancer Society Bike a Thon as well attending the 50 year anniversary celebration of the 1960 Philadelphia Eagles championship season. John’s wife wasn’t particularly excited about attending and thought I would make a much better date and suggested that I go in her place. What a night. I got to hang out with some of the players that I watched as a small boy with my dad and listen to them reminisce about their playing days and talk about their lives. Thank you leukemia.

And on the subject of the Eagles, my experience with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man / Woman of the Year campaign (I was the 2010 winner) drew me to support the campaign of a friend who later ran for Woman of the Year. My support of her then led me to a speaking engagement with several former and current Eagle players. And it was pretty damn cool to stand in front of folks like Brian Westbrook, Doug Pederson, Jon Dorenbos, AJ Feeley, Harold Carmichael, and Conor Barwin as they intently listened to my story and later rallied around me wanting to know more. Thank you leukemia.

My initial diagnosis sparked the idea to publish a book. Once having successfully done so, four more books followed. And I was lucky enough to recruit contributions from folks like Ethan Zohn, Shep Messing, Scott Tinley, Dave Scott, and Vicki Huber Rudawsky. These are all individuals who I admire and respect for a number of reasons who agreed to be a part of my writing process and project.  Thank you leukemia.

When I was first diagnosed and blogged a lot about my experience, I received an email from a woman who applauded my tenacity and told me that I reminded her of her husband Vince who was also a survivor. The email was signed Janet Papale and yes a friendship with the “Invincible” one himself, Vince Papale, and Janet was born. Thank you leukemia.

Also in my blood cancer family is Lauren Hart. Not Lauren Hart the talented recording artist and famous voice of the Philadelphia Flyers, (although she is that and then some). But Lauren Hart the caring and compassionate soul who is very philanthropically involved, has adopted 4 children from Ethiopia and his herself a lymphoma survivor with a vested interested in my health. Thank you leukemia.

And while racing has been a passion for thirty years, my diagnosis has only given me more opportunities to race with an even great sense of purpose. That experience has only gotten better as a result. And through it all I’ve shared my story through countless TV, radio, internet, and print media outlets including an Emmy nominated segment on Comcast Sportsnet written by Gregg Murphy and produced and narrated by John Boruk. All of these experiences, and many more, have allowed me to look at my leukemia as a gift and afforded me the opportunity to be the architect of so many  bridges; connecting people, causes, organizations, and opportunities. Thank you leukemia.

Most importantly, I think I’ve given my family something to be proud of. I think I’ve given them an example of how to find opportunity in adversity and how to turn a potential mess into a message.

For every single person I have touched, and have been touched by as a result of this journey, Thank you leukemia.

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Dawn Stensland Mendte Interview

Check out this interview I recently did with my buddy Dawn Stensland Mendte.

Click HERE to watch.

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New Feature with Dawn Stensland

dawn and steveYesterday I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Emmy Award winning television journalist, anchor, host and friend, Dawn Stensland.

Dawn and I chatted about life, family, health, cancer, endurance racing, and more. Our segment will run on WJLP-TV soon and I’ll be sure to post the show’s link once it becomes available.

This isn’t the first project I’ve done with Dawn. In 2013 I was a guest on her show and did a full 30 minute live segment. You can check that out on the MEDIA link above on this site. Dawn has anchored several news stations across the country in her decorated career and currently appears on a daily CBS Radio show as well as her special features work on WJLP-TV.

Stay tuned for more

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De-Portation

Yesterday I was officially de-ported as my chemo chest port was no longer needed. My port was inserted on July 15th after which followed four rounds of chemo that proved very effective. I made it a point to try to remain as active as possible around treatments since I believe cancer has a tough time hitting moving targets. THANK you to everyone who continues to support all I do. Especially my family who has to endure all of my lunacy all of the time. Happy 2017 and here’s to a great year.

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Rehoboth Beach Half Marathon & Marathon

SteveRunRehobothWhat a great weekend I had at the Rehoboth Beach Half Marathon & Marathon! I opted to run the half since I haven’t had enough training volume due to chemo treatments. And I had never run this race which made it a fun adventure on race day. For me, there’s something to be said for having no clue where the road ahead leads. It was a fresh and new course for me which was awesome.

There were a couple of non race related details that made this weekend even more special. For starters we stayed with good friends Alan and Sue who live about a mile from the start of the race. It’s always great connecting with them, they are good people. Additionally, Alan was volunteering which meant he and I arrived at the start nice and early and parked about 20 yards from the start line! So I got to sit in a nice toasty car until it was time to shed some layers, warm up a little, and then hit the road running. What a perfect way to start a race.

The course itself was flat and fast and weather conditions were pretty darn good for a December morning in the Mid Atlantic region. We made our way through the streets of Rehoboth and spent several miles on a packed multi-purpose trail which gave the race a certain tranquil and back to nature feel. This was a well-engineered, well executed event with great volunteers and everything you want in a half marathon & marathon.

SteveBeerRehobothAs I made my way through the finish chute, Mary Beth – the Race Director who was announcing, made my finish extra special by calling out the fact that I had finished up chemo and was in the process of crushing cancer. That was meaningful.  And of course my wife Mary Grace was there to greet me as she always does with a huge hug and a smile.  Who wouldn’t race with a reward like that?

The icing on the cake was the kick ass after party consisting of a full breakfast and lunch spread and Dogfiish Head beer! It’s always a little strange throwing back a post-race beer at 10 AM. But then again, I did drink their Breakfast Stout. It must have been good for me.

All in all it was a great weekend with great company. I highly recommend this race to anyone who wants a quality half marathon or marathon in a beautiful seashore town without all of the noise and chaos of a big city race. I’ll be back next year for sure!

This was another exclamation point or knockout punch race for me. Let me explain. I underwent chemo treatments in July, August, September, and October. At the conclusion of each treatment cycle, I made it a point to do some kind of a race to send the leukemia a strong message. In July I raced a sprint Duathlon. In August I raced a 5k. In September I raced two 5Ks. And in November, in celebration of finishing up all treatment in October, I raced 2 half marathons. I’m not running away from leukemia. I’m running at it, over it, and through it in full blitz mode.

That’s a wrap for me for 2016. I’m sure I’ll jump into a holiday run or two before the end of the year, but year bigger races are done. Races for 2017 are shaping up. It’s going to be a great year with the return of much longer distances which I missed this year. Most importantly, it’s going to be a healthy year.

Happy Holidays to all.

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Video Shoot Recap!

steps tevaOn Monday November 28th we opened our doors to a small army of people inclusive of marketing representatives, a film producer, and a band of video, sound, and production guys. We began filming at 8 AM at our house where my wife and I talked about my leukemia story and its impact on our lives. The entourage then traveled to my favorite memorial park to film some running clips and we ended the day shooting some casual family footage at our daughter’s home near the park.

This is what happens when you have great success with a treatment drug and kick leukemia square in the jaw – again. While it was a work day for the crew, everyone was great to work with and I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was honored to be a part of this project.

Stay tuned for more.

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A Bit of Thanks

While I am abundantly thankful for family, friends, love, my life, my health, gainful employment, health insurance, people, dogs, cats, freedom, peace, and an infinite list of other things… I think I am most thankful for the fact that I am thankful. I’m thankful that I generally find that glass ¾ of the way full and understand & appreciate that I live a pretty charmed life and am a damn lucky person. Happy Thanksgiving to all. And safe travels to those moving about!

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2016 Philly Marathon and Half Marathon Weekend

stevederekCongrats to all marathon, half marathon, and 8k finishers in Philly this year. I can speak from personal experience the conditions for Saturday’s 13.1 were beautiful. I had a great run with my buddy Derek as we took in the sights and sounds of Philly and crossed the finish line with a robust “high-5”! It was a great way to drive home the point that my chemo is DONE and I am BACK to myself again. Conditions for Sunday’s full marathon were not quite as friendly.

My hat is tipped to all who weathered the elements in route to their successful finishes.

Next up for me is the Rehoboth Beach Half Marathon on 12/3. Stay tuned!

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Big Climb Philly 2017 Registration OPEN

One of the best events I did in 2016 was the Big Climb Philly that took us up 43 floors of the Comcast Building to a breathtaking view of the Philly skyline. I will absolutely be back in 2017!

Register Today for Big Climb Philly

MAY 13, 2017

ONE COMMERCE SQUARE

2005 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW

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