Hi there friends,
I’m partnering with Triumph Cancer Foundation and many other cancer survivors in the Triumph to the Summit program.
Each summer Triumph Cancer Foundation assembles a team of hikers. The team trains for several months to prepare for the final goal of climbing to the top of a high Sierra Peak in the South Lake Tahoe Basin. The team consists of cancer survivors and Triumph physical trainers and friends. This year I joined the hiking team to raise money for the foundation. Here is a cool video of one of the early hikes to the summit of a more distant peak, Mt. Saint Helens.https://youtu.be/c2Njs6EZ2qs . Watch til the end.
In January 2019 I had an abdominal ultrasound to check on my liver, which presumably was affected by poor diet and practicing for the DEKE Guzzle Cup in college. It revealed an OK liver but also a 7-cm tumor on my left kidney. I didn’t have chemo (there is no effective chemo for clear cell carcinoma in the kidney), radiation (tumor was too large and advanced), or simple tumor removal (tumor had invaded a blood vein). So, surgeons removed the entire kidney-- a fairly standard practice as I’ve come to discover. Subsequently, my oncologist talked to me about the Triumph Cancer Foundation.
Fifty percent of American adults will get cancer during their lifetime. Cancer treatment, has a tremendous impact on a person’s physical well-being. Regaining strength and stamina lost during treatment is essential to resume life and have a sense of control again. Ten years ago, there were no options to help with the recovery process. Once treatment ended, folks were left with just their next doctor’s appointment and no guidance for how to pick up the pieces and go on. Triumph fitness programs provide that guidance and the teamwork to make it successful.
Inspired by Jimmy McDonald, a friend in Phoenix, who after undergoing the same treatment as me, began hiking a local mountain peak every day, I signed up for the twelve-week Triumph fitness program. Triumph workouts taught me the importance of: proper exercise form; exercising opposing muscle groups; flexibility; aerobic and strength training in an encouraging setting. It didn’t stop at twelve weeks. Every weekend this summer, our Triumph to the Summit team gathers at another trailhead, ready to take on a new challenge. Some of our team members have never hiked before, but together, we encourage one another along the way, as our hikes get progressively longer and more difficult.
Pam Whitehead, founder of the Triumph Cancer Foundation says, ‘Our team's message to those that we meet on the trails is that cancer doesn't define us - it makes us stronger. And together, We Triumph!’
This year, the annual Triumph to the Summit fundraiser is particularly important. Triumph Cancer Foundation has been impacted profoundly by COVID-19 in terms of a significant loss in revenue due to forced cancellation of fundraising events and the diversion of grant funding to entities fighting the coronavirus. And yet, Triumph is still delivering a full schedule of Triumph Fitness classes. Costs increased to prepare program materials as well as to provide each of our new participants with basic exercise equipment to enroll in our virtual programs. Cancer survivors are at particular risk for contracting the coronavirus due to their compromised immune systems. Medical research shows that not only does exercise reduce the chance of recurrence for a survivor, it also boosts the immune system. So, it is imperative that Triumph continue to provide services, all of which are offered at no cost to the participant.
A final note. A year after I was diagnosed, my dad, 93, was diagnosed with a 7-cm tumor on his right kidney—clear cell carcinoma. Genetic testing reveals that I do not have any inherited genes that are known to be associated with any cancer types. Although doctors say it is highly unusual, apparently it is just bad luck that we both got it. That is good news for my brothers and their kids but no help to my dad. A year after his surgery (this winter) he coughed up a little blood that he believed was related to recent dental work. Turns out he now has multiple clear cell kidney cancer tumors in his liver and lungs. Prognosis: a month to live without chemo. He has not tolerated chemo well and will stop it soon.So, damn.
I’m the one benefiting from Triumph programs so I know it is illogical to feel that I’m doing this for my dad. But somehow, I do. I can’t do much else for him. Maybe by helping to raise some money we can help another person recover.
I believe strongly in the mission of the Triumph Cancer Foundation. Rick Abraham, a friend in Northern Virginia who has undergone years of surgery, chemo, and radiation for recurring pancreatic cancer, tells me that it is helpful emotionally not to dwell on the ideas of fighting cancer and beating cancer but of managing and recovering from the disease.Triumph’s program helps many folks that are managing their cancer through healthy lifestyle changes.This leads to unbelievably positive attitudes among my team mates. The enthusiasm of the Triumph instructors and participants is contagious. I’m lucky to be a part of it.
If you can, please help me reach my goal of raising the cost for one person to complete the 12-week fitness course-- $1500.00. By making a pledge to support my summer of hikes with ‘Triumph to the Summit’, you are assisting Triumph Cancer Foundation to continue to offer their valuable services to survivors. Thank you for supporting the mission!