Monday, March 21, 2011

Why Participate in Run for the Reason? - Rosa

In 2009 my brother-in-law, who happens to have been one of my favorites, lost his fight to cancer. Though I did everything in my power to keep him comfortable, it just seemed I could not do enough. We laughed and shared good talks. He allowed me to help him, which I believed he knew he was really helping me. He would thank me for all my efforts and sometimes even try to eat or drink something just for me. I wish I could have done more. The time I spent with him during his illness will always be precious to me.

Now in memory of him I give my donations and volunteer my time to The American Cancer Society. Last year was my first time participating in Run for Reason and I truly enjoyed it. I was one of the drivers for a group of wonderful people with whom I share a common passion with, for a cause that makes a difference in many lives. It touched me deeply when I would look over and see someone, on the side of the road saying to us “thank you so much.” It moved me to want to do more and when I could not stand it any longer I told the other driver “let me out, I gotta run with them” I ran till it hurt (which wasn’t but a mile, I was not in shape :) ), but I gave it my all and gained even more respect for our runners.

There’s not a better cause to run than Run for the Reason, it allows another opportunity to help others win the battle with cancer.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

A worthy cause...

Photo courtesy of American Cancer Society

We help cancer patients get well and stay well in Alabama.

Through our various support groups and programs, we reach dozens of families in your community.

  • 31,796 trips for cancer patients to get to their cancer treatments.
  • 1,498 patients received free wigs, prostheses or other gift items this year.
  • 886 women took part in the Reach to Recovery program, which matches newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with survivors.
  • 815 women attended Look Good...Feel Better, a makeover session for female cancer patients to teach them how to deal with skin and hair changes.
  • 1,536 patients attended monthly support group meetings.
  • 29 cancer survivors received college scholarships.
  • 892 patients and caregivers stayed for free at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in Birmingham while seeking treatment at local facilities, totaling 19,701 nights. That service saved these families an estimated total of nearly $2,462,625!

    We help find cures right here in Alabama.

  • The American Cancer Society funds 7 researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, for a total of more than 4 million dollars in research grants.
  • The American Cancer Society has funded three billion dollars in research since 1946, helping fund such cancer discoveries as the breast cancer drug tamoxifen, surgeries like the bone marrow transplant, and cancer screenings like the PSA test.
  • 44 American Cancer Society funded researchers are Nobel Prize laureates. This is more than any other non-profit organization in the world.

  • We help cancer patients fight back.

    In this past fiscal year, volunteers with the American Cancer Society helped persuade the Alabama state legislature to restore more than $300,000 to the state's Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection program, after it had been cut entirely from the governor's budget for the third year in the row. The program gives free mammograms to women who are underinsured or not insured at all. Also in this past fiscal year, local leadership council member and state representative Mary Sue McClurkin honored the Joe Lee Griffin Hope Lodge and also recognized cervical cancer awareness through a joint resolution. American Cancer Society volunteers advocated for cancer patients covered by Medicaid, supporting several efforts involving coverage for prescription drugs and hospice care. We are geared up for the this year’s legislative session focusing on educating legislators about the importance of passing comprehensive smoke-free legislation.

    For cancer information 24 hours a day,
    call 1-800-227-2345 or visit

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Why Participate in Run for the Reason? - Trey

    I am participating in Run for the Reason to honor my co-workers, friends, and family members that continue to battle cancer. Several people that are near and dear to me struggle with this disease, and this relay is a way for me to do something tangible for them.

    Currently, one out of every four Americans will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. To me, that is a staggering statistic. We simply must do everything in our power to find cures for those that have cancer and preventative measures for those that could potentially develop cancer.

    Last year was my first year to participate in Run for the Reason, and it was such an awesome experience. I got in an RV with seven people I had never met before--after three days, 350 miles, and about an hour of sleep, I came away with seven great friends and a ton of fun memories. I am happy to be a part of the team this year, and I hope that the money that we raise will make a tremendous difference in the fight against cancer.


    Friday, March 11, 2011

    Why Participate in Run for the Reason? - Brooke

    This will be my second Run for the Reason – Run Across Alabama and I’m so excited to get to share my story with you and why this year’s RFTR is so incredibly special to me and why I feel so privileged to run in celebration and honor of all the people who are affected by cancer every day.

    As an adult, I have always felt compelled to participate in events benefiting the American Cancer Society. I have participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-day walk, several Susan G. Komen Races for the Cure and Partners In Training. In December of 2008, my boss Buddy was diagnosed with cancer and dealt with surgeries and treatment for the better portion of 2009 and 2010. In March of 2010, when I heard about the Run for the Reason, I felt deeply compelled to participate to celebrate Buddy and what a profound influence and inspiration he has been to me during the past couple of years. So, when April rolled around and I set off on my two-and-a-half day trip in a winnebago with 6 dudes I’d never met and one chick I only knew casually to run 4 miles every 10 hours, I had no idea what I had signed up for. Something about running with these people, sharing nasty hotel rooms with them, stinking to high heaven in a RV, and blasting music from our ingeniously rigged boom-box bonded me with these folks. I left that weekend feeling accomplished, proud, sore (to say the least) but fulfilled. I had no idea what was waiting for me on the other side of that weekend…

    I will never forget the exact moment my dad called me to tell me my Mom had breast cancer. After the Run for the Reason I had a meeting I had to attend in Tallahassee, FL. On Tuesday morning May 4th, I loaded up the rental car, grabbed a chicken biscuit and hit the road headed up I-75 north to another meeting in Thomaston, GA. I had been excited all morning because after my trip to Thomaston I was heading straight to Atlanta; I received a text at about 5:30am that my sister-in-law was in labor and my nephew would be coming soon. So, at 8:30am when my phone rang and I saw that it was my dad, I wasn’t surprised when he said “It’s been a mysterious morning. Ginny went into labor and…” I interrupted him, “I know!! I’ll be there tonight.” He interrupted me, “Your mom has cancer.” Our conversation continued for a couple more minutes, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what was said. It was pouring rain outside and I tried to stay calm enough to at least pull into a gas station long enough to process what I had just heard. My mind immediately went back to a conversation the group shared on the last day in the RV about why each one of us committed to the type physical and mental distress to which the RTFR exposes you. I had responded, “I’ve never had anyone in my family affected by cancer, but I want my boss to know I support him. For some reason, I’ve always felt like it’s my duty to support this cause. Maybe because I’m hoping I’m never affected by it.” And here I was, 3 days later sitting on the side of the road in the rain, crying in a car. My mother was now a statistic.

    Our next nine months were spent in hospitals and doctors offices. Mom ended up having a mastectomy with reconstruction. After the surgery we discovered there were 3 tumors. Only one – the smallest one – showed up on the initial scan. Even worse, the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. They declared she had stage 3 breast cancer with lymphoma. Her worst fear from the beginning was chemo. And, in the early fall chemo became no longer a fear, but a reality. But, it didn’t stop there. As a side effect of the chemo mom developed a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) that traveled up to her groin. As if the nearly daily doctor’s appointments, the painful recovery from the surgery and the chemo weren’t enough, Mom now had to give herself shots of blood-thinners in her stomach every day and nurse her leg that would swell 2 or 3 times normal size because of the blood clot.

    I spent those months tearing up I-20 between Atlanta and Birmingham, helping Mom during and after chemo appointments; helping with things around the house as Dad patiently and beautifully balanced all of the chaos; spending lots of time praying and talking to myself during the drives; and lastly, trying to keep my workload in the office and beyond at a manageable limit. Candidly speaking, had I not worked for this wonderful organization that gave me so many liberties to work from my parents’ house, or the hospital, or the doctor’s office, or our Atlanta office, I probably would not have had the strength to bear my portion of the burden that Cancer has laid on my family. This often times overwhelmingly large company of 27,000+ employees proved to me that indeed we are all family and that when one of our own is in crisis there is no sacrifice too big to help our “family” through that crisis.

    My mom never deserved to hear the words, “you have cancer.” Nobody does, but she definitely didn’t. I saw the strength of my mother, and by proxy my father, as my mom went to appointment after appointment being delivered one bit of bad news after another -- each feeling like a kick in the gut while you’re already down. I saw their strength as my mom came out of an operating room, physically a changed and different woman. I saw my mother’s strength in the following weeks nursing scars and drains and still trying not to impose on any of us. I saw my father’s strength when he had to give my mom blood thinner shots in the stomach every day, knowing how painful they were. I saw my parents’ strength when after a week of her hair falling out my dad shaved my mom’s hair off. I saw my mom’s strength and perseverance the first time she went into public without a wig. Each milestone, whether good or bad, showcased a new strength I had never seen in my parents before.

    Cancer tested the strength of everyone in my life – my family, my fiancĂ©, my coworkers, my friends. So today (2/14/10) as I recall what cancer has done to my life in the past year– albeit in as few words as I feel are respectable considering the magnitude of this situation – I am elated to share that just this week we found out that mom is CANCER FREE! Cancer tested our strength and we proved that while we had to bend a little just to live, our spirit could not be broken.

    Caption: This is my mom on Christmas with my nephew Mason, who was born the day we found out about her cancer. She had finished chemo about 6 weeks before this picture was taken.

    It’s with pride and humility and great respect that I celebrate my family and all the people who have helped us through such a tremendous challenge in the past year, while I participate in the 2011 Run for the Reason – Run Across Alabama. This year each leg of my race will be with a great sense of gratitude to the people who have reached in their pockets and their hearts to lend various types of support, when the weight of their own lives and struggles is great enough. Most importantly, this year each mile that I run will be to glorify God and his grace, to which I owe an overwhelming amount of faith and love for healing my Mother so she could watch her grandson grow up -- who was the silver lining on a dark day last May – and so that she could be standing beside me at my own wedding as I start my life with Lance with my own challenges to overcome.