Today is Race Day

I have not slept enough. I am very nervous. But here, I am, walking to the Metro to go do this thing. Many photos and stories to come.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. The fundraising page is still up, and will be for another month. You all have left me speechless and crying with gratitude, and your support means everything to me.

To track my (slow) progress today, you can check on gonike.me/trackdc14. My bib number is 18440!

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The Race Is On

Greetings, dear donors, friends, family, and followers,

I come bearing difficult news. I, Elizabeth Almen Stone, am walking a race on Sunday to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s research efforts. But as my 6-month scans have revealed, my cancer is back.

I have relapsed. My disease is recurrent. My cancer is persistent and evil and has a greater chance of killing me than ever before. And depending on how my next set of treatments go, that might be much sooner than we had been hoping. It’s not hopeless, but the odds for a complete cure are rather… low. Lower than before. By a good margin.

It’s reappeared in my spleen (where it’s never been before) and around my thymus gland (near where it has appeared both times before in my right axilla/armpit). And if the next treatment isn’t successful (an allogeneic stem cell transplant, aka, receiving someone else’s bone marrow to replace mine), there are no proven effective cures.

I am still walking the race. I am still raising funds. If anything’s changed, it’s that I feel even more strongly that I must not let a single day go wasted, because my expected lifespan has statistically shrunk to possibly a few years only, if treatment fails. At the earliest, the transplant could happen in August or September. So we’ll get to that, and my treatments leading up to it, in a different post.

This has been a hard week waiting for the news, and a hard day of talking with my oncologist and family. But life goes on. And I choose to live as much of that life as I have. And that means finishing this race. Doing what I can to help fund research for myself and fellow patients. My multiple relapses may be rare, but I know there are others like me out there, about to fall off of the edge of known treatment options. And I’ll fight for that.

If you’ve already donated to the cause, thank you and I send you so much love. I’ve enjoyed making my final ribbons this week to honor those loved ones of donors, and I will make more tomorrow in my final batch.

If you’d like to help but don’t have the funds, please consider joining the National Bone Marrow Registry (Be the Match), which would enable you to painlessly donate your stem cells to patients like me looking for a match. The New York Times just posted a great article this week about how people still believe donating bone marrow is a very painful and invasive process, but that’s simply not true anymore, in case you need convincing. I was actually a donor once upon a time (it was truly painless to join the registry), but I am now unable lest I infect others with the cancer.

 

Spring is Coming

My dears, my darlings, my donors, my delights,

I find it so difficult to narrate, as it were, the day to day. I find it much easier to write something when I feel it’s an important piece of news, or a change, or if something is so pressing that I must write or drive myself mad…

So! Because I have been extremely busy, here’s my update in summary form (sorry, not much eloquence today)  –

1) Testing the Immune System

A few weeks ago, I got my first cold with the new immune system! It lasted at full strength for maybe a week and a half, but I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to fully shake it! I can still feel some gunk deep in my sinuses… But thank goodness it’s mostly over.

2) Falling off the Wagon

Due to illness and an event we held for home buyers on a Saturday morning, I missed training for 2 weeks in a row! And I may have been too busy/sick to go to the gym as well… One time, I even went, was sitting in the parking lot preparing to go inside, and the gods punished me by setting off the fire alarm. So not workouts for me.

EXCEPT

I walked 8.37 miles today! My hips hurt horrendously. I am also extremely tired, since weekly trainings involve early wake up followed by high levels of exertion. My walking buddy, Cheryl, and I were awesome with breath, but her feet and my hips were in for it. I’m walking around like I’m 90… But I’m back to exercising regularly! And each new step makes it easier for the next time!

3) Going to Leukemia Ball!

So, you all have helped me turn into quite the impressive fundraiser! Apparently, I’m 3rd in the DC area and 22nd in USA for fundraising with Team in Training!!!

This is all due to you guys, and I’m so grateful that you’ve given so generously. I keep meeting people along the way who’ve lost people who are dear to them. Your donations have been invaluable towards improving our efforts to research new drugs and treatments. At the LLS Research Breakfast I went to this week, one of the organizers had been expected to die 10 years ago based on his diagnosis, but was a guinea pig for a drug that now is commonly used to put people in remission.

Anyway, some of you know that my anxiety flared up significantly going to that breakfast, but my buddy Brian took notes, and I plan to post more about the progress they’ve made in the past year.

I also spoke at our Honorary Teammate Breakfast a few weeks ago, and after sharing my story, I was asked to attend the Leukemia Ball this coming Saturday as a Patient Ambassador! It’s the largest, non-political black tie event in DC, and I’ll get to get all dressed up and get Dan in a tux and go thank people for donating.

Coincidentally, Saturday is also my birthday, and I couldn’t pass up a good opportunity to celebrate in such style… My dress is real pretty and all 😉

So, that’s my update! I need to gather up my things and go camp out for a snowed in work day tomorrow, but that will be good to be extra productive. Other than that, I’m still not done with House of Cards, I’ve been eating some challah from Costco this evening, and this will hopefully be the last snow of the season! C’mon, y’all, Spring is just around the corner!

And with Spring? The Nike Women’s Half Marathon!

World Cancer Day – Let’s Finish This Thing!

Ok, kids. So today’s the day. Not only the end of my 100 Donations in 100 Hours campaign, but World Cancer Day. The goal of today is to increase awareness, debunk some myths about cancer, and, of course, raise funds. If you’ve forgotten, a really easy way you can help is to ‘Purple Your Profile‘ through Chevy to have them donate $1 to the American Cancer Society (you may have trouble doing this from a mobile device, FYI). If you’ve ever changed your profile picture for any cause you believe in, and if you don’t have any money of your own to spare, this should be a no brainer!

I’m doing my part to spread the word about World Cancer Day by sporting my bright purple wig (compliments of the lovely Vicky, who was with me the first time I had a confirmation of the cancer) to our quarterly RE/MAX brokerage meeting. And I even got Donation #77 because I wore it (followed immediately by Donation #78 online)! So please, do the easy thing by purpling your profile. We are such visual creatures, and a flood of purple on your social media feeds could do more good than you think. I had a friend from high school who donated over the weekend who put it this way – “It’s easy for me to feel like one person can’t make much of a difference, or that one small act won’t be significant…but there was proof of the opposite! Humanity can accomplish something if we come together!”

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So, what can you do for World Cancer Day?

Here’s my take on it.

There are many more cancers in this world than simply a collection of diseases that feature an uncontrollable growth of cells. We’re very lucky here in the U.S. For many of us, cancer may be the worst thing we have to face. Many Americans will never know hunger, or fear for their lives in the middle of a war zone, or be subjected to inhumane conditions at the hands of another. Physical cancers are one of the last hurdles in the first world, and we chase down cures out of greed and selfishness to keep ourselves and our children safe.

But there are many more evils that we should be fighting as well. There are cancers of the mind, cancers in our society, cancers around the world of economic plight and health crises and bigotry and ecological destruction and greed and every bad thing that we as humans can do to ourselves. As I’ve said before, while the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is an important cause to me personally, I don’t want you to donate to LLS and my cause if you think your money will do more good somewhere else. But I do want you, regardless of your financial ability, to go out and help the world be a better place!

So take today to evaluate what small thing you can do to help the world. Can you shovel your elderly neighbor’s driveway the next time it snows? Can you drive a local person with health challenges to a doctor’s appointment? Can you volunteer to clean up your community, or tutor kids in need, or door-knock for an organization you believe in? Can you donate the cost of one latte, one movie ticket, one meal out, or one unnecessary self-indulgence to the greater good? Our actions, small as they might be in the moment can accumulate and grow and change the world, as daunting as all its problems may be. And when you decide what action, however small, you want to take – tell me! Comment or message me on Facebook, email me directly (estone22@gmail.com), and spread your message!

I have a goal of 22 more donors to reach 100 Donations in 100 Hours. 22 is my birthday date. It’s an auspicious number for me, and I think that there are 22 of you out there who may have been waiting for the 11th hour. It’s 11:45. If you’d like to help me reach my goal, you have until 3:30. If you live in the U.S., and you’re working in a corporate environment, ask if they’d do a company match for LLS. If you donate at 3:45, or 9:30, or tomorrow, or next week, or any time before the race on April 27th, you’ll still have my heart-felt thanks.

We can change the world. Come on. Let’s finish this.

Upping the Ante

So, you all have done it again. You’ve blown right past $3,800 that I had said would be the new goal. How? A lot of you donated, and many of you donated very generously! One of you was able to bring in several hundred dollars through a company matching program even! I’m still amazed. Really. Thank you 🙂

 

So…. $8000. That’s the new, ridiculously high goal. I don’t want to say $5800 or $6000 or $6800 just to have you over power that within the week! So let’s set the bar HIGH! And then, we’ll see how much we can do.

 

THANK YOU AMAZING PEOPLE!!!

UNBELIEVABLE

You all are amazing. You all have completely blown me away with your generosity.

I challenged you all to collectively contribute $500 between 100 people over 4 days.

You all have donated $1,295 shared between 33 people in 6 hours!!! That means that the total donated amount is currently $2,705!

I still can’t believe it. You all passed the $500 mark after only 3 hours and then kept going strong. I was sitting in front of my computer, crying because I was so overwhelmed with gratitude at your support. I haven’t been able to send out all of my thank you emails yet. And I know many of you haven’t even donated yet who we’re planning to!

So here’s the deal. I obviously have to bump up the goal. You can’t just look at an organization when you’ve reached your goal so easily and say ‘Meh, I decided not to try anymore’. No! So the new goal, until the deadline in April, is $3,800. That’s $2,000 more than my original, minimum requirement (I was going to make the new goal $3,220, for my birthday, but I think you all would blow right past that like you did to $1,800). If you donate by Tuesday the 4th at 3:30pm EST, I will STILL put your name in to win the 1-800-Flowers gift card!

Now, if we don’t reach that goal, I’m still happy. We’ve still made a major impact on LLS’ ability to help people. But looking at what this group is capable of doing, it doesn’t mean we can strive to hit that big number! Just like with training – I don’t really think my body is capable of going from winded after 5 minutes to running a full 13.1 miles, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try!!!

And with that in mind, and feeling so inspired, I’m going to challenge myself to a long workout. I’m going to do 5 miles on the treadmill today (mostly walking). Thank you so very much to all of my donors today. You have rocked my world with your generosity.

Bit By Bit

Wow. Wow wow wow. Thank you all so much for the outpouring of support I’ve had since my last post. You guys set a record day for my blog! Just goes to show that people will seek out positive messages and not negative ones, right? Writing my story and explaining my commitment has had a larger impact than I thought it would. I’ve received messages from people all over, people facing challenges large and small, who told me how they felt inspired to start going that extra step to improve themselves. And that means so much to me, being able to be a small part of an awakening in someone else.

But this particular goal is not about me. This training is about supporting others who are still burdened with treatment and fear and pain. And I can’t forget them. In thanking all of my generous donors thus far, I’ve asked again if they’d like to have a ribbon made for someone who has or has had cancer. While I’ve been excited to hear some wonderful stories of survival, there are also heartbreaking stories of pain and decline. People have told me about loved ones with weeks to live. One passed just a few days ago.

I made the first two of the ribbons last night. One will travel to Pennsylvania for a father’s funeral service this weekend. The other will, I hope, be a tiny sign of hope to an uncle as he fights to the end. As the ribbons are made, one by one, they’ll join me for my workouts, pinned to my back. They’ll go out in the cold with me, and be there when the cherry trees start to blossom, and go across the finish line with me in 12 weeks by the Capitol. Little flags in the wind, waving love and hope to the people who need it.

So while I love each and every one of you for the support you’ve shown me personally, my ultimate goal is unchanged – I’m running to raise money for cancer research. Money that will subsidize medical bills. Money that will support patients who need an informative guide, or a shoulder to cry on, or a life saving treatment. And with small contributions from many people, we can make an impact. The same way my core is stronger simply by adding one extra crunch to my bedtime routine each night. Or realizing over a few weeks that the daily centimeters of new growth on my hair have made it almost long enough to run my fingers through. My body heals and is stronger every day through tiny changes going on bit by bit.

To do the most good, I want to knock this fundraising goal of $1800 out of the park. My dad (that wonderful, generous role-model of mine) has offered to match every dollar I receive until the goal is met. That means that the $410 you all have contributed in the last 2 weeks is now a whopping $820 – a full 45% of the way to $1800!!!

Here’s what I propose to you — 100 hours to get 100 donations.

If 100 people contribute $5 apiece, that’s $500. Matched by my Dad, we could be at $1000 at the end of 100 hours on Tuesday afternoon. The goal would be COMPLETE!!!! That’s a mere 15 days since my initial announcement about running the event. Tuesday also happens to be World Cancer Day, and you can help raise additional funds for the American Cancer Society simply by turning your Facebook or Twitter profile purple.

Is there $5 in your budget that you could spare? One venti latte at Starbucks? Popcorn at the movie theatre as you catch up on Oscar nominations? Your contribution, however small, my friends, would be inspiring to me.

If you’ve already donated, or cannot donate, please forward this to anyone you know who could. If you need an incentive of immediate gratification (beyond knowing that you’re helping to save and improve the quality of thousands of current and future lives), how about this –

Once we have 100 donations and have met the $1800 goal, I will randomly select one of the 113 donors (yes, you first 13 get to be part of the fun too!) and send him or her a $50 gift certificate to 1-800-Flowers, just in time for Valentine’s Day (or you could use it for something else)! The $50 is my own money that I’m putting up – I won’t touch a cent of your donations.

Who’s with me? 100 Hours starts today, Friday, January 31st, 2014, at 12pm EST. You can donate here.

Let's Do It

Let’s Do It