Running to Stand Still

…busy Dad trying to make it all work

Category Archives: Cancer Info

My 15 Minutes for DetermiNation

“In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.” – Andy Warhol

It’s not everyday a regular guy like me can look into a camera and talk about a passionate subject to potentially a million people.

I have been a member of the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation team since December 2010.  In 2011 instead of running just one race to help raise money I ran eight….almost.  I raised over $14,000 so the American Cancer Society could help fund research, education, advocacy and support programs for victims, survivors and caregivers.  I am extremely proud of this.

In late March I was approached by Michelle Moore who is the Illinois DetermiNation Director.  She told me that the TNT television network was going to run a 60 second vignette entitled “Dramatic Difference” and wondered if they had anyone they’d like to nominate for the commercial. The Illinois DetermiNation folks wanted to nominate me for this month long national ad campaign highlighting someone who has made a dramatic difference in people’s lives and community.

I was extremely honored by the gesture but never thought anything would come of it.  I had a great year of fundraising and training.  A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into last year’s effort, but I didn’t feel it was any more special than what numerous other teammates had done for DetermiNation last year or what the survivors and caregivers go through every day.

In late March DetermiNation had a team of runners racing the Shamrock Shuffle here in Chicago.  I was down there to cheer and ring cow bells for our team.  Michelle pulled me aside and told me that TNT had read my blogs, knew my story and that they wanted to profile me in the vignette.

“You’re kidding me!” I said

So on April 28th the TNT production crew came to film me running the CARA Lakefront 10 Miler and then we all went back to my house for interviews with myself, Amy Keilman and Marc Feliciano.  Two friends I’m proud to say I run for…so here it is…enjoy.

Since last year I have recovered, started running again and have planned a whole new schedule of races for 2012 to help raise money to fight cancer with my DetermiNation teammates.  Please click TEAM SCHOBER to check it out and as always please help if you can.

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Cancer’s MVP – Cigarettes

A few weeks ago I was asked to join the committee for the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation Team here in Chicago. I gladly accepted.

About the same time I was starting to think about the 2012 Berlin Marathon.  I’ll be running a few races this year trying to raise some more money for the DetermiNation Team and for me the final big race for 2012 is the Berlin Marathon.  I wanted to get my fundraising page together and I had a few ideas about what I wanted to say and the pictures I wanted to post.

But I needed some facts.  Cancer facts.  Facts for the committee and facts for my fundraising site.  So I went to the ACS main website and found the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2012 report.  The first thing that hit me was it was 66 pages long…and unfortunately it probably could have been longer.

What I read just blew me away.

Here’s what I found out right off of page one.

In 2012, about 577,190 Americans are expected to die of cancer, more than 1,500 people a day.

About 1,638,910 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2012

Want a reference on that?

This year the Super Bowl is being played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.  The New York Giants are playing the New England Patriots…again.  While watching the game look at the size of the crowd and think about this….

– The number of Americans who will die of cancer in 2012 could fill that stadium about 8.5 times.

– If you include the rest of the world the stadium could be filled about 88.25 times.

– The number of new cancer cases for 2012 could fill the stadium over 24 times…and that’s only for the U.S.!

Of the estimated new cases for 2012 the number one for men is prostate cancer at 241,740 (29%).  For women it’s breast cancer at 226,870 (29%).

Of the estimated deaths from cancer the numero uno for both sexes is…..lung & bronchus cancer.  The men top out at 87,750 (29%) and the women at 72,990 (29%).  Lucas Oil Stadium holds about 68,000 so you do the math.

Here’s another bit of information from the American Cancer Society AND I’M STILL ON PAGE ONE!

All cancers caused by cigarette smoking and heavy use of alcohol could be prevented completely. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2012 about 173,200 cancer deaths will be caused by tobacco use.

If you’ve read a few of my blogs you know that my Dad died of lung cancer back in 1981.  He was diagnosed in 1977.  He tried to quit smoking but we’re talking about a guy who had smoked two packs a day since WWII.

He tried cold turkey.  He went to a hypnotist.  Nothing worked.  Nicotine is a very addicting drug.

I would even take all the cigarettes out of a brand new pack and use a pen to mark the point I wanted him to snuff it out.  Baby steps you know?  That didn’t work either.

What I forgot to mention here is that he tried all of this only after he had one of his lungs removed.

My father died when I was 18.  That’s 18 years of second hand smoke.

What does the report say about second hand smoke?

Each year, about 3,400 nonsmoking adults die of lung cancer as a result of breathing second hand smoke.

I guess I should consider myself lucky.

So why are cigarettes still legal?  That’s easy.  It’s big business baby!  The only way to make cigarette companies go away is to stop buying their product.  Not an easy thing for a smoker to do.

But why not try.

Do you know someone like this?  Do you know someone who really wants to quit?

Forward them this blog.  Tell them the positive lesson they’d be teaching their kids.  Tell them about the money they’d be saving by not smoking.  A carton of cigarettes in Chicago costs roughly $85!  If my Father was still alive he’d be shelling out almost $510 a month on cigarettes.  That’s crazy.

The American Cancer Society lists well over 25 different sites that will help someone quit smoking.  You can find them here:

ASC Quit Smoking Help

There was some good news in the report…

The 5-year relative Survival rate for all cancers diagnosed between 2001 and 2007 is 67%, up from 49% in 1975-1977. The improvement in survival reflects both progress in diagnosing certain cancers at an earlier stage and improvements in treatments.

I can only hope that this percentage will continue to move up from 2007 forward.

Also I’m a firm believer that if you get someone away from the cigarettes and into a workout program you’ll be helping someone break the suicidal habit that nicotine brings.  They’ll lose weight, want to eat better, get in shape and reach goals. Have them run for the ACS DetermiNation Team! There are countless stories of people putting the cigarette down, lacing up some running shoes, training for a few months and finishing a half marathon or even a full marathon AND NEVER LOOKING BACK!

I’ll be forwarding this blog to a few friends of mine who still smoke…I really don’t want any of them to become just another statistic.

Dad

I’m a charity runner for the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation Team.  Here is the story of my Dad.

My Father passed away in August 16, 1981.  Thirty years ago today.  The death certificate basically said he died of pneumonia.  What bullshit.  My Father had battled cancer for almost four years.  We found out right after I started high school.  It first started in his lung.  They removed the lung.  Then it went to his brain.  They removed the tumor.  Then it settled in his lymph nodes.

All the while he tried to quit smoking but couldn’t.  He had been a WWII veteran who received the Purple Heart fighting in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forests of Belgium.  He had started smoking during the war and could never quit.  Ever.  Even after removing one of his lungs.

My Father wanted to see me graduate from High School.

At the time the treatment for cancer seemed quite barbaric.  I can remember him being so sick from the chemo drugs that he couldn’t get himself up from the bathroom floor.  The brain tumor affected his eyesight.  No one knew this until after a serious car accident where I was also a passenger.  He was a man who could always figure things out, knew the right thing to do but he couldn’t fight what was killing him.  He was scared.

My Dad died 8 weeks after I graduated.  He was 55.  I was 17.  It was thirty years ago today.  I can’t believe it’s been that long.

Everyone has stories similar to mine.  Everyone.

My Father never saw me go to college and graduate, never sat with me in a bar and had a beer, never saw me do well with my career, never met his future daughter-in-law and never met my three beautiful girls.

I can’t remember what he sounded like and I can’t remember his laugh.  Cancer took that away from me as well.

Right now it’s 5:28am, Tuesday, August 16th and I’m going for a run.

The $1,000 Haircut

Every once in awhile you’re thrown a curve ball in life.  Something comes out of left field.

A few weeks back I was sitting on my deck having a cold boat drink when I got a phone call from a co-worker/ex-boss of mine, Joe Cappelletti.  He simply said “Go check your email…I just sent you something.  You need to help me fill in the blanks.”

So I go and read the email and I’m floored.  I quickly finish the email for him and send it back.  The next day the following email was sent to our entire Chicago office and eventually made it to our San Francisco office:

From Joe Cappelletti:

As many of you know, for the last few years, Ron Biamonte and I have made a non-cash wager on the Cubs/White Sox inter-league games.  Best of six determines the winner and, once again, the White Sox were victorious this year.  Sad to say, I’m the loser.  For 2011, the winner gets to shave the loser’s head.  Shave is an overstatement.  It is more of a cut with a very short blade (a number 1!).  Many of you have expressed interest in watching this event so here’s what Ron and I will do:

For a mere minimum donation of $10, you can buy admission to this once-in-a-lifetime event.  All proceeds will be donated to Ed Schober’s fund raising efforts.  If you don’t know, Ed is a charity runner with the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation team.  He will be competing in eight races this year including the New York Marathon in early November.  You can check out his blog at www.edschober.com, which this month includes an interview with our very own Amy Keilman.  You may also click the “Why I Run” tab on this site to donate on-line.  Remember, our company will match your donation.

My haircut is scheduled for Tuesday at 3:00 in the Main Conference Room.  “Tickets” can be purchased from Ron or Joe.  If you’re donating via the website, bring proof of your donation. 

It’s tough being a Cubs fan isn’t it.

Because we thought this event should include alcohol (for Joe’s sake) the venue was changed to Streeters Tavern who graciously offered some drink specials.  The manager told us they’ve had many guy’s shave their heads in the bar.  I guess that shouldn’t surprise me for when Ron started cutting the bar started playing Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” followed by Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy”.  Hilarious.

As Ron was cutting you could tell he has done this before.  He must win a lot of bets.  He started on the sides and after about five minutes Joe had a very nice mohawk.  At this point I was very tempted to snip the cord on the clippers just to see the look on Joe’s face but I decided against it.

When it was all said and done the haircut didn’t look that bad.  I had offered up my hair for a $500 donation but there were no takers.

All in these guys raised $1,000 for my American Cancer Society DetermiNation team.

It was something they wanted to do to help out and I can’t thank them enough for there support and kindness.

You can help out too by clicking the “Why I Run” tab at the top of this page.

After the haircut we moved on to beer pong and pool…we do have our priorities…

A Cancer Ass Kicker

I’m a charity runner for the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation Team. For me it brings a great deal of pride and satisfaction knowing that the endurance sports I compete in can bring someone that much more closer to being cured of this awful disease. At least that’s what I dream of….then you hear the stories. The stories that people tell you after they find out your a charity runner. The stories of pain and suffering and loss and hopelessness.

Then you hear other stories. Stories from out of the blue. Stories of hope and inspiration and courage. This story is about someone very close to me…literally…she sits in the office next to mine. Her name is Amy Keilman.

In a nutshell Amy is a cancer ass kicker.  Everyone knows one.  Amy is one of mine.

In March of 2005 Amy was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer that had metastasized to her bones. She was 28 and newly engaged.

After a few consultations with doctors and specialists, she decided to begin her battle with hormone therapy and radiation versus traditional chemotherapy based on the make-up of her cancer cells.  Hormone therapy requires you to suppress your ovary function (as her cancer was fueled by estrogen) while taking a hormone pill.  Prior to having her ovaries removed in early 2006, the ovary suppression was accomplished by a monthly shot to the stomach. Each hormone treatment is effective till the body builds up a resistance to the drug – on average each treatment will last anywhere from 6 months to a year.  Hormone therapy is less destructive on the body and the “good” cells and the side effects are not as intense as traditional chemotherapy.

In December of 2006, she had surgery on her right arm where a large tumor exists. The doctors inserted a titanium rod into her arm bone to secure the bone and prevent it from breaking.   This also allowed her to have radiation treatment to the tumor in her arm.  In 2008, she started chemotherapy with a pill called Xeloda and underwent intensive radiation treatment for three months.  Once the Xeloda stopped working, she switched to a weekly IV chemo treatment that’s side effects did not include hair loss.  Eventually, she reached a point where she had to undergo chemotherapy that resulted in hair loss.

This is when she sent out an email to the department basically saying “Hey all…I might be losing my hair soon because I’ve had stage IV breast cancer for a few years and I’m starting a new kind of therapy and who wants to go to the Hawks game and drink some beers?”

At the time I had been working with Amy for about 2 years never knowing what she was going through. I had noticed that she had been out of the office for longer periods of time lately but most of us thought she was pregnant. Her attitude definitely did not give it away.

I thought you’d like to hear from Amy herself so I sat down to ask a few questions…

1. Back in March 2005 how did you know something was wrong?

I found a lump in my breast a few months previously which I ignored while trying to get my insurance set up to go see a doctor. The doctor’s initial thought was that it might be a cancer tumor and scheduled additional tests right away. I wasn’t shocked by my diagnosis. My father had been diagnosed with a rare form of male breast cancer that ultimately defeated him. I had never given too much thought to the genetics of cancer since I was only 28 at the time but was not surprised by the reality of it.

2. Have you seen any major advances in cancer treatments in the past 6 years?

I know that there has been continued progress on chemo medications, treatments, scanning equipment and medical care however I approach my treatment on a drug by drug basis. By that I mean that I focus on the drug / chemo that I am currently taking and don’t dwell on how many drugs are left to treat the kind of cancer that I have. I don’t know if there are 3 more drugs left that I can take or 30 drugs left. I don’t want to live with a period at the end of my sentence. I want to live with a …… (a little Bachelorette cliché!)

3. Your attitude toward your cancer is really inspirational. Have you always been this way?

I am guessing that there are many people out there that would say that I am more of a pain in the ass than I am inspirational. My approach has always been to “just be normal”. I don’t want the fact that I have cancer to change or define me in any way. I am the same person I was before I was diagnosed except that I have some physical limitations and I hang out at the hospital more than the average person.

4. What advice can you give to anyone fighting cancer right now?

The only real advice that I have is to be well informed. There are so many hospitals, doctors and treatments to choose from so it is important to do your research and to be prepared with questions. Everyone needs to be comfortable with what treatment they get and what hospital they receive it from.

5. Have there been any positives in this whole experience?

Of course! At the time I didn’t think it was a positive, but I changed jobs a little over a year after my diagnosis. I wasn’t looking to leave public accounting but knew that I needed to reduce the stress in my life. My current position became available and with mixed emotions I took it. It worked out – I love my job and love the people that I work with and have so much more time and less stress. I have been able to spend more time with friends and family and have picked up a bunch of hobbies over the years. I am much happier and love the change in career challenges.

6. How are the treatments going?

The treatments are going as well as can be expected. I just recently started a new chemo drug called Doxil (or Kool-aid as I call it because that’s what it looks like) because the last chemo stopped “working” on the cancer that is in my lung lining. I will have my second round of Doxil tomorrow and will likely have another one or two doses before I have tests to make sure that the drug is working. Fingers crossed that I will stay on this chemo for a while!

7. I know the answer to this but I want to ask anyway….How has cancer affected your career?

In some regards it hasn’t affected my career but as I said I changed jobs because I needed to reduce stress. I am happy with the change and like what I do now so much more than public accounting. Sometimes I think that I would be more proactive with my career if I didn’t have cancer but at the same time I don’t know. It’s a hard question but I would like to think that I haven’t done anything different just because I have cancer.

.
8. If cancer was a physical person what would you like to do or say to him (by the way I purposely used “him”)?

Leave us alone!

9. So do you want to run the New York Marathon with me on the ACS DetermiNation team in November?

Probably the easiest question yet – um no! And I mean that in the nicest way possible!

I told you she was a cancer ass kicker.

It’s stories like this that make marathon training easy. What I do is nothing compared to what people like Amy deal with on a daily basis. Her story is uplifting. Unfortunately there are many more that aren’t.

My goal is simple. To one day find that there’s no longer a need for the American Cancer Society or Livestrong or the Susan G. Komen Foundation or any of the dozens of cancer charities all fighting against the same enemy. As long as I’m fit enough to help I’ll be at the start line.

Please help if you can by making a donation to the American Cancer Society.  Just click on “Why I Run” tab at the top of the page or use the link below:

http://bit.ly/llRjEa

Thanks…Ed

ps – Also you can follow Amy on Twitter @amostbass

What a Pain in The Ass!

When I turned 40 I realized that I needed a new doctor.  I had a female doctor at the time.  Not that she wasn’t a good doctor but it’s just that I was at the point in my life that a male doctor was in order.  A male doctor with small hands.

According to the American Cancer Society there are five myths about colorectal cancer:

  • It’s a man’s disease
  • It cannot be prevented
  • African Americans are not at risk
  • Age doesn’t matter
  • It’s better not to get tested because it’s a death sentence anyway

These are all bullshit.

Lets go back a bit.  When my Mom was 72 she was diagnosed with a rectal tumor.  She had the surgery, went through chemo and radiation and KICKED IT’S ASS!  That was 13 years ago.

Because of this my new doctor (the one with the tiny hands) thought I better start getting the prostate exams at 40.  It’s always the interesting part of my annual physical.  He’s a runner so as we go through the normal parts of the exam…we BS about running and family then we get to the end and he says something like “Well you know what we have to do” so I get ready and then it’s over, he tells me everything is cool, I exhale then I go home.

But in 2009 (when I was 45) he told me that because of my family history he wanted me to get a colonoscopy.  Usually you don’t need one until you’re 50.  Unless of course you’re having issues down there then by all means get your butts to the doctor!

He gave me instructions on what I needed to do but…I blew it off. Honestly I forgot about it.  I had the slip of paper on my work bench then one day it was gone.

So I go back for my 2010 physical and he looks at me and says “I see you blew off the colonoscopy”.  I felt like an idiot.  I agreed I’d have it done right after the holidays.  I promised.  So January rolls around and I make the appointment.

Now the colonoscopy itself takes roughly 30 minutes.  It’s the prep that sucks.  I had to stop eating at 11pm on a Wednesday, not have anything solid to eat, then start drinking the laxative at about 5pm Thursday night.  You have an hour to drink 16 ounces of this crap that tastes like thick salty lemonade.  It’s the Godzilla of laxatives.  Within 30 minutes it’s working it’s magic and I’m hanging on for dear life!

My doctor was probably at home giggling his ass off because just as you’re feeling back to normal you have to repeat the whole process again!  Another 16 ounces…more eruptions.  I’ve never felt so cleaned out in my life.  You could’ve eaten off my colon.

My appointment was at 8:30am on Friday.  By this time I just wanted to get it over with because I’M STARVED! I hadn’t eaten for almost  35 hours.  They give me a gown tell me to change and go sit in the waiting room.

After awhile the nurse comes and gets me.  I walk into the procedure room to see the doctor, his assistant and in the corner two med students with clipboards.  “Northwestern is a teaching school as you know Mr. Schober.  Do you have any objections to these students sitting in?”  I say “No but I bet they’re wishing they didn’t draw the short sticks back at the dorm this morning.  I look at them and say “You guys have breakfast yet?”  I’m such an asshole when I’m nervous.

So I’m put in twilight and the procedure begins.  I can feel some pressure and a bit of discomfort when they need to expand things with a blast of air.  Then it’s over and he tells me he found two really small polyps but they look benign.  He said they would send them to the lab to make sure.  Asked if I wanted to see them.  In my twilight faze I say “Sure…why not?”  The problem is without my contacts in or glasses on I’m basically blind so he has to hold them 2 inches from my face at which point I tell him to get those things the hell away from me and where can I get a stinking cheeseburger?

He called with the results the following Monday confirming what he said earlier.  No need to have the procedure done for another five years.

Early screening is a major key to cancer prevention.  Don’t wait to get your screening completed after your doctor tells you it’s time to go. Just go and get it done.  It could save your life.

For more information on colon and rectum cancer please see the American Cancer Society link -> here.

I’m glad I got that behind me!




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