Direct Link to Leuka Fundraising Page HERE.
I write this post today as my sister Lea lies in a Seattle hospital bed at The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. She is busy being poked, prodded, tested and treated (again) a thousand miles away from her home, away from her husband and family. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little exhausted as I reflect on all she’s been through. It’s been over six years since her diagnosis with leukemia, and we’re still fighting hard. We’re grateful for her survival and relative health, we’re thankful for the emotional support we’ve received, but this year in particular has been a tough one for me as I stand on the sidelines helpless to tear this awful disease from her. And not just from her. I realize that cancer has entered all our lives: our family, our friends, our community.
I’m at a loss to explain what it’s like to see your beautiful sister be tortured like this. That’s a strong word, but I don’t know what else to call it. What do you call it when her bones break, her skin fails, her eyes are attacked? What do you call it when her mouth randomly explodes in sores or her “awesome” health insurance companies (yes, she has two) delay treatments and force her to argue and fight and cajole for hours every day while she’s sick and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for her treatments? It’s suffering. It’s exhausting and brutal and unfair… but most of all it is something that occurs EVERY SINGLE DAY.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about her prednisone taper schedule… her response to tacrolimus or any of the 30+ pills she takes every day. My wife watches me tear up and cry often as I tell her the days news… or sees the exhaustion that comes from worrying about someone you love so much.
I calm my mother as we learn that her skin has failed and my sister rushes to the hospital with part of her leg neatly wrapped in plastic. Only problem is that that part of her leg is being carried in her pocketbook so wound doctors can try to sew things back together.
How do I say all this to my concerned friends who ask how Lea is doing? What am I supposed to say? “Good?” After six years who has the endurance to listen to our concerns any longer? So I usually share the other part of the story which is equally true: She’s alive! We’re truly grateful! Her spirit is intact! She IS getting better! Her smile is there! We’re still in the fight! We have hope!
And that’s the only part of the story I can really do anything about: keeping her spirit going; making sure she knows she’s not alone; and doing everything I can to make life for leukemia and post bone marrow transplant patients better in the future. For her. For those who suffer.
Enter The Fireflies: For the past three years, I’ve ridden my bike over stupidly large mountains and for stupidly long distances… all in honor of cancer survivors. Our team, named the Fireflies, is a small group of advertising and film professionals who tackle the hardest climbs of the Alps and the coast of California every year to raise money and awareness for the fight against cancer, and specifically leukemia. The Fireflies have become my second family. They have been there for me and my sister all year long, and I can’t express enough how grateful I am to have them in my life.
Please watch the film trailer about these wacko “Angels of the Alps” to get a sense for how these ordinary people rally together in extraordinary ways all for those who suffer.
In about 12 days, I’ll be boarding a plane for Italy, to join the Fireflies again for a ride from Verona, Italy to Cannes, France across the Alps and maybe a few of the Dolomites just for fun. I’m thrilled, I’m honored… and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a touch nervous. Last year’s ride was hard, but one of the most incredible journeys of my life. It’s one of the few times during the year that I somehow stop thinking about the hurt I feel about my sister and instead celebrate her spirit and all those who are in the fight.
Yes, I ride my bike a lot… but there’s NOTHING on the coast of Maine or California that could possibly prepare me for the hardest climbs of the Giro d’Italia or The Tour de France. It will be 1000Km of hard roads and 22,000m of elevation climbed by the time we reach Cannes and honestly, I’m already exhausted… so this should be quite interesting this year. The Fireflies motto is “For those who suffer, we ride” and every pedal stroke, every moment of self doubt, every glorious view and grueling ascent will be for those leukemia survivors… like my big sister Lea… who have lived with a disproportionate amount of suffering every day since being diagnosed.
This ride is 100% in aid of Leuka, one of the world’s great leukemia research and support foundations. Their mission could not be nearer and dearer to my heart… and quite honestly, I hope you will consider making a donation to Leuka today.
So… like everything we do for cancer survivors, there’s an opportunity for YOU to get involved. Here’s how:
1.) I won’t belabor the point: we need financial support. 100% of donations go to Leuka in aid of leukemia research, awareness and support. None of your donations pay for any part of my trip. I have a goal of raising a minimum of 2,000 £’s (that’s about $3,000 as $1 = .6£’s) in the next THIRTY (30) days. Please help!
2.) Beginning June 11th, we leave Verona, Italy for a 9 day ride in search of the hardest climbs of the Alps on our way to Cannes, France. Though I always ride for my big sister Lea and her ongoing battle with this awful disease and the aftermath of her bone marrow transplant, once again, I’ll be dedicating a part of each day’s ride to a cancer survivor that YOU tell me about. Just email directly HERE or leave a comment & send me their name etc. You can also contact us via Twitter or Facebook. We know there are cancer survivors out there who are suffering, and we want them to know that we’re in the fight with them. There is power in Unity. It may be a really steep climb, it may be the day when my legs are exhausted from the hundreds of miles I did days before, or the incredible view from the top of the Alps… but connecting with survivors will motivate me to keep going, to tell their story, and hopefully to remind them that they’re not alone.
3.) The third way you could help, is to go find a friend who hasn’t yet registered for the bone marrow registry and get them committed to signing up. It breaks my heart to see people literally dying, because the public doesn’t realize how EASY and FREE registration and donation is. You can go HERE for the link to all the information, and the FREE registration process.
If you live in France or Italy, or know someone who does… please come out and cheer us along. We are a small, but dedicated group of wackos who put ourselves on the line in order to support the fight against cancer. We love meeting new folks along the way, and can provide detailed times/locations to anyone who might want to connect to ride with us, or just needs a sweaty smile and wave.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!