One foot in front of the other, to Kili for Calley
Welcome to my personal fundraising page. I'm participating in Survivor Summit where I will be hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro from February 8-21, 2014 as part of the fight against cancer. The money I raise will support LIVESTRONG's programs and services, which inspire and empower people affected by cancer.
Please support my efforts and join me in making a difference for the 28 million people living with cancer around the world. No donation is too small - every dollar counts.
Thirty years ago,I was a young medical student, awkwardly enthusiastically earning my early stripes ,trying to build an experience to represent, to those I felt obligated, to family, to friends , to community.
My beautiful stepmother, and mother to my sisters, found herself in the midst of a bad pap smear, and before anyone could seemingly do anything she was clinging to life at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. I tried to understand, explain, learn, and ultimately help, but was completely useless except that I promised I would watch over my sisters, her beautiful babies and protect them.
Christie and Calley were ten when their mother died several months after diagnosis.
Slightly more than a decade later, her beautiful daughters were Arizona State University track athletes, tearing it up in the 800 m, 1500 m . I was in my usual state of too busy for anyone, but calmly confident everything was good, that my sisters were thriving. I was traveling to an interview in Seattle for my first neurosurgery job, with a layover at Dallas Airport. Next thing you know I get a call on the white courtesy phone from my dad. Calley was in the hospital in Phoenix with a strange kidney infection. First of all, who gets a call on those courtesy phones, and who actually hears the overhead in a busy airport. My wife heard it. Something did not feel right, she had a needle biopsy scheduled for the next morning. I managed to get the last Phoenix flight out of Dallas, changing my plans on a bad feeling, nothing more.
Arriving at her bedside in the middle of the night, I looked at her scans. As Chief Resident of Neurological Surgery at UF Shands , I knew I had to get her to help for a strange and aggressive malignancy in her right kidney. The needle biopsy for her 'infection' would have been her death sentence.
We checked her out at midnight Against medical advice, and flew all day the next morning, back to Gainesville, where I had faith and trust in my team, my colleagues, my small, safe world. Dr. Wajsman, and the liver transplant team, cardiac transplant team, because of their technical excellence, all contributed to a 14 hour right kidney resection, resecting part of the vena cava and a third of her liver, rebuilding her vena cava. For anyone who doesn't know, it is like suturing water tight a tube of toilet paper after it is wet. She survived the surgery. And then...she survived the year of chemo, and radiation, and experimental bone marrow treatment. Her oncologists, quite proud of their statistics, gave her a 5 per cent 5 year survival, and were eager to validate and demonstrate the authenticity of the data...
Fast forward to last year, where Calley, Christie, my brothers and I watched our father die from a 13 year battle from his own cancer, prostate. Calley, now a 20 year survivor, against all odds, watched her father die of cancer.
Yes, Calley not only beat those odds, she celebrated her life, persevering, becoming a chef, saving turtles, rescuing and sheltering homeless dogs, exuding love at all costs, and strength, resilience, independence. She runs, she paddle boards, she spent two months in India, mastering her skills, honing her expertise as she translates yoga to so many faithful students.
Cancer has touched my family, and the families of so many others I am close to, and the one message that I am crystal clear on, is the power of the Livestrong message. The Livestrong force of will, courage, strength and celebration is critical and I am proud to have the opportunity to represent this force as we continue to raise Awareness, money and ultimately...the solution to the challenge of cancer. As Jimmy V said so well, 'don't give up, don't ever give up'. This opportunity stands to represent the importance of the journey. I am committed to represent.