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Story 1 for Share Your V Story
From:Killeen, TX (Fort Hood, TX)
Posted: July 21, 2009
Travis Kelley
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Me and my Mother-Bev
Me and my Mother-Bev
I am a 31 year old male who has served in the US ARMY for 13 years. After returning from my second deployment from Iraq I was diagnosed with testicular cancer after losing my team leader and 17 other members of my Squadron in Iraq. I was totally devastated. Being a high school all state basketball player in high school I had known Jimmy Valvano's story. I continued to look up to him, Lance Armstrong, and Nene of the Denver Nuggets who had been diagnosed with cancer as well. And most of all, my MOTHER, who survived cancer 20 years prior. I aspired to get healthy and return to the United States ARMY in full health. I had a dream to be a US ARMY Officer and I wanted very badly to achieve my goal. On May of 2009, after being in remission for one year I was selected to be a US ARMY Officer. Jimmy Valvano and many others have always given me hope and strength. As I was watching the 2009 ESPY Awards, I saw the Jimmy V award recipient of 2009 and it brought me to tears. Another amazing man who spoke great words and shared an inspiring story. I am very appreciative of all the Jimmy V foundation has done. I recently won the Fort Hood Hero Award in the US ARMY for my achievement. It is those before me who have inspired me to fight and pray. Continue to fight, continue to pray, and NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP!!
4 people found this story inspirational.
Story 2 for Share Your V Story
From:Rockledge, FL
Posted: September 6, 2011
Team Nemo - Keri's Fight Against Cervical Cancer
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Keri watching the Red Sox 2-days Pre-Op
Keri watching the Red Sox 2-days Pre-Op
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I am sharing this story on behalf of my sister, Keri Morrissey. Keri has been diagnosed as Stage 3B Cervical Cancer and is a patient at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. She is a 33 year old, single mother of Jillian (age 10) and Jake (age 5).
Keri's battle began in the spring of 2010. After an intense treatment program that included radiation and chemotherapy; Keri was declared "cancer-free" on October 25, 2010. Unfortunately, her fight continues...
During a routine, quarterly exam on July 18, 2011, Keri's Doctors identified an area of concern. After further tests, it was determined that Keri's cancer was back and it was very aggressive. Keri's options were limited. It was determined that her best chance for cure would be to undergo a total pelvic exenteration. However, not all patients in her situation are a candidate for this type of procedure. Keri's other option, if not a candidate for surgery, would have been palliative care.
Fortunately, it was determined in late August 2011 that Keri was in fact a candidate for surgery. Without hesitation, my sister opted for surgery as it was the best option for her to live a full life and see Jillian and Jake grow up. On September 2, 2011, with an entourage of 7 family members in the waiting room, Keri underwent a total pelvic exenteration at MD Anderson. Surgery lasted 13 hours and although she is only 4-days post-op, she continues her recovery in Houston.
Keri's story is not over and we still do not know how it ends. In the meantime we are enjoying watching her write it. She has not yet been declared cancer-free; however, we continue to pray for that day and we, her family, are so proud to call her a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a friend. God Bless my sister and all those who fight and support and love those who fight cancer.
1 person found this story inspirational.
Story 3 for Share Your V Story
From:salisbury, ct
Posted: July 19, 2011
ann corkery
October 2010 my mom found she has chest and brain cancer. also one of my best friends mom died in 2009 of cancer. keep the fight going and beat it.
Story 4 for Share Your V Story
From:Grand Rapids, MI
Posted: July 13, 2011
My Story of Having Cancer
In September of 2010 I was 27 and living in Charleston, SC about 1000 miles away from my family. I was diagnosed with a rare aggressive form of lymphoma and not giving very good chances. My Doc told me that I would need to be moved to Duke (about 6 hours away from Charleston and still not any where near any family) and I was to begin testing and treatment immediately. I asked him if I could use Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, MI where my family is, the answer was yes and my insurance would cover it too. I left his office and drove home, packed a bag of clothes and then drove to the airport and boarded the next flight out. I was able to get the last two seats on a flight that had been sold out for weeks. These two seats were for me and my fiance. God really answered that prayer. The next three days I underwent extensive testing then began my first of 8 round of in-patient chemo. Between the in-patient chemo, I would undergo out-patient chemo as well. The next seven plus months were the hardest months of my life. I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance a few different times between treatments, not being able to breathe or so sick I couldn't move. I was giving very low chances of beating this thing but I'm sitting here today, having been in remission since April 24.
The crazy part is that my arthritus medications may have contributed to me getting this rare form of lymphoma, but now my arthritus is either gone or very, very reduced. The chemo helped me with beating lymphoma and getting the arthritus under control.
I'm so thankful for all the support and prayers I received.
Story 5 for Share Your V Story
From:Jonas Ridge, NC
Posted: June 3, 2011
Choosing the V Foundation Words
Let me start off by saying that my family is a very close family and we all live within 15 miles of each other. In June 1991 my aunt on my dad's side was diagnosed with cancer. At the time only 13 people were known to have the same. 6 months later she died. She was the aunt that everyone wanted, and I got her. We never missed vacations together and as a child I remember going to her house every Sat. She never wanted to give up and she never did. It took me awhile to get over her death, but one night I saw Jimmy V on tv and I knew that everything was going to be okay. Then in 1995 I took off to N.C. State and Jimmy V. was everywhere. I wanted to give up on school but how could I? I finished school and came home to work in the family business. Let me back up my dad has 2 brothers and 2 sisters. After the 1 sister died life changed for everyone. My dad had just bought 1 of his brother's part of the business out when I came home. Back on track now. Then one day his other sister called with the dreadful news " I have cancer." The next thing was " I am going to fight and I'm not giving up." There was those words again "Never give up." She lost her battle but boy could she fight. Then a few years pass and my dad and the brother he was in business with get their relationship back. Things had gotten bad but no matter what anyone or what the rest of the families thought they never gave up. They grew closer than ever but three years ago my uncle called and once again " I have cancer." He did not want to fight or do anything for the first couple of days, but we talked and he agreed to do something. We had gotten the most stubborn and hard headed man to agree to never give up. Unfortunatly he died 17 days after he was orginally diagnosed. At this point what more could happen? My dad lost his dad when he was three, this brother was not only a brother but a father to him This means there is only my dad and 1 brother left. Last year the same call came in to my dad. Right now my uncle is taking treatments and we know nothing definitly. I mean how many people out there can actually say they have 4 out of 5 in thier family with 4 different kinds of cancer and 3 of the 4 are dead. By this time we are wondering how this is even possible and who would not want to give up. This disease does not stop there for my family. We are very close and always will be, and the one thing we never do is give up. My parents have been married for 40 years so my papa is not only my dad's in-law, he has been his father too. Last year 2 months before my uncle's call, my mom went to the doctor with my papa--yes, you guessed it cancer. He was diagnosed with cancer in his kidney and bladder. We could not give up now. He is 79 and he works everyday in his business and he was taking care of my granny who had althemizer's disease. Now was not the time for anyone of us to stop. About 2 weeks later he went to the specialist and he was told he would take both his kidney and bladder out. This was not what anyone wants to hear but if that's what it takes to rid him of this awful disease then okay. Papa said he did not want this but we told him he had no choice he would not give up and he would not fight alone, either. Then he went for surgery and God worked his miracle and they only took his kidney. When they got in, the bladder had tumors but the doctor did not think they were cancer, so two biopsies later, they are not cancerous. He has went through 9 chemo treatments to rid the tumors in the bladder and I am pleased to say that as of April 2011 he is cancer free. This man has never stopped working or giving up on anything in his life and I knew cancer had nothing on him. I hate to say that my granny passed away in May but she is better now. Life can throw you many things but I believe that cancer is probably the worst. Cancer can happen to anyone no matter what or who you are and that is scary. I have also been chanting " Don't give up" to one of my closest friends father. I have grew up in the community and church family with this man, and about 3 weeks after my papa's diagnose he found out that he had cancer. He not only is battling 1, or 2, but three different types of cancer. He has just finished his first treatment plan and is waiting to return to Anderson in TX in June. He is 69 and I have seen days that he can't go but I always say the same thing, never give up. He always responds with I'm not, I will beat this ----- disease. That night watching tv I would have never thought that I would choose those words "Don't give up, don't ever give up" to be such a part in my life. Not only are those words true when you are facing and fighting cancer but with any disease, or struggle in life. With the economy the way it is and so much tragedy in the world, one must choose something to stand by and I chose those words. Those words have pulled my family and I out when all we could do was pray and confess that we would never give up. I think of what the future holds for my family and there is one thing certain that no matter what it may be or not be we will make it because WE DON'T GIVE UP.
Story 6 for Share Your V Story
By:The Airline Guy
From:Ithaca, NY
Posted: April 19, 2011
Inspiration in a T-Shirt Collection
Written on March 16, 2010 for a campus newspaper:
If you were to take a look at my wardrobe at home, you would have a lot of questions. Why do I have so many college t-shirts? How do I choose which shirt to wear? Today, I will tell you the answers and write a story that I hope encourages you all to honor those who’ve inspired you throughout your life.
Each college t-shirt I own tells a story. The story may be about a game I went to with my family and friends in any of the five college cities I’ve called home. The story may even be about recognizing a place where I met someone who changed my life. Some stories are more vague; I just felt the need to buy the t-shirt. I learned this lesson of storytelling through my t-shirts from Coach James Valvano, former basketball coach at North Carolina State University and founder of The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Jimmy V, as he is referred to today, won the first ever Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the inaugural ESPN ESPY Awards in March 1993. At the time of his acceptance, Jimmy V was fighting a battle with terminal bone cancer, and passed away only eight weeks after his speech. His acceptance speech lasted 10 minutes, and I regard his speech as the second-most influential speech after Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream”. I first heard Jimmy V’s speech in 2003, but his words resonate so strongly with me every day, especially the following poignant verse:
"To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special." (Source: The V Foundation for Cancer Research)
These words from Coach Valvano inspired me to recognize people who have made me experience those three distinct series of actions: laugh, think, and cry. I started participating in the V Foundation’s “Show Your Spirit” campaign as a sophomore in high school while wearing five different college shirts for the first five days of March Madness to demonstrate how much college sports and the people (be it family, friends, or simply players on the team) I experienced these great personal memories with have made such an impact on my life. The principle of the campaign was to make a $5 minimum donation to the V Foundation and wear at least one t-shirt from your favorite college (i.e. alma mater). At the time, I didn’t really want to ask my parents for money to donate; I wanted to donate my own money that I earned. You may call me greedy or cheap, but I am a man of principle, so I made the choice to make a donation once I had made some money entrepreneurially.
Last winter, in the comforts of my dorm room in Keeton House, I found a way to start earning money so I could contribute a portion of my income to the V Foundation. I started my own textbook brokerage and marketing company, B2: Book Broker, helping my friends and I make a little extra money from textbook buyback than what was available on campus. With the money I made from selling two accounting books, I was able to donate a minimal amount of $18 to the V Foundation. When given the donation form, I was able to make the donation in honor of someone. At that moment, I created my own philanthropy initiative: I would donate to the V Foundation in honor of a friend who had made a deep and remarkable impact on my life in the past 12 months an amount equal to the number of shirts I could wear during March Madness. This initiative also became my way of honoring Jimmy V’s perseverance and his words of inspiration I had heard several years before.
I was able to earn a modest amount of income from my bookselling business since last winter, and I am able to enact my philanthropy as March Madness begins this year. I have chosen to reward three foundations this year, rather than just the V Foundation: the Cornell Women’s Lacrosse Team and the Cornell Women’s Ice Hockey Team. I chose these two specific Cornell sports teams after meeting members of the team who have become loyal and dedicated friends and made a deep and significant impact on my life.
For the V Foundation, I am proud to say my collection has since grown over the years to include many more t-shirts and many more memorable moments. My collection now includes over 100 different t-shirts representing over 70 different institutions. I have enough Cornell t-shirts to last a month, which I owe partially to my brother also attending Cornell. My collection even includes a coveted Middlebury College Quidditch t-shirt that I received from my friend that plays on the team. With my expanded collection, I have decided to contribute no less than $105.00 this year to the V Foundation, representing the entire Spring 2010 semester—March Madness just wasn’t enough.
This article is not a call-to-action for you to donate to The V Foundation or Cornell Athletics. Rather, I offer you readers a chance to make a difference and recognize those who’ve made such a significant impact on your own lives through whatever means you can do. Show your spirit. Make a memorable impact on someone’s life. You never know when you’ll be the inspiration.
1 person found this story inspirational.
Story 7 for Share Your V Story
By:The Airline Guy
From:Ithaca, NY
Posted: April 19, 2011
I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends
--During my senior year at Cornell University, I applied for the highest student graduation honor at the School of Hotel Administration: the Joseph Drown Prize. The prize honors a student who has shown immense dedication to the school and a career in the hospitality industry. The fourth question asked me to identify the people who I can attribute my personal and professional growth to during my time at Cornell. I found no better way to answer this question than honor nine of my closest friends in memory of Jimmy V.--
I can attribute my current personal and professional growth and success as a Cornell student to a host of individuals: family, professors, staff members, and students. For the purposes of this application, I would like to focus on the role of nine students and their impact on my life. Still, before I began to explain their role, I want to offer some brief sentiments about the role of those I won’t mention thoroughly.
My family is an indisputable part of my success wherever I go in my life. Having moved five times in my life, my family is the strongest constant force I’ve always had. To my professors, several have served as advisors (formally or informally) and offered me the privilege to serve as Teaching Assistants. Without their guidance and encouragement, I wouldn’t have gotten as much out of Cornell as I have over my time here—both as a student and as a student advocate. The staff, especially the Office of Student Services, has been invaluable in allowing me become a mentor in the Hotel School. I always felt a special sense of ‘home’ with the individuals in that office who’ve taken me in as their own and shown me how to be a guide to my peers in the Hotel School. To those students I won’t mention by name in this application—each one I’ve had a class with, lived with, or met on the street—all have shown me respect and helped me enjoy my college experience.
Most specifically, I would like to recognize nine members of the Cornell University Class of 2011 as the people who’ve had the greatest impact on my personal and professional growth. In terms of individually identifying what each has contributed, I apologize that I am not able to offer such specific detail. Still, I want to frame how these individuals have contributed to my life through a historical story that I hold dear: the Little Rock Nine.
When I lived in Little Rock, AR, I visited Little Rock Central High School for the first time. This school was the sight of the first attempts at integrating public schools in the United States. When the school was first attempting to integrate, nine African Americans were selected to join the student community. These nine students were pioneers to a nation, especially the African American citizens of our nation. They were put in one of the most trying environments a student should have to face and asked to represent a change for the future. What has always struck me as integral to this story, these nine students stood firm and didn’t back down from the challenge. They banded together as one to support one another and fought to make a legacy as part of the Little Rock Central High School community. With this triumphant story in mind, I found my own Little Rock Nine at Cornell University. Nine of my dearest and closest friends, some of which have never met the others, have done what the Little Rock Nine did for the African American community and served as stalwarts to support each other and a cause. These nine students have been through so much with me and supported me always as my personal valiants. Yet, the only concrete common thread they share (despite graduation date) is that I’ve had at least one class with each. Below are the names of the nine individuals: Daniel G, Hayley H, Emily H, Emilija M, Nick M, Annie M, Zach R, Steven T, and Amy Y.
Each of these nine individuals has made great individual contributions to how I go about my life and enjoy the pursuits I choose both at school and for the future. Moreover, the synergy of their contributions has enhanced the ability for me to succeed at Cornell and leave an honorable legacy. Lessons of friendship govern all the further takeaways I have from these people—respect, trust, humility, love, etc. These nine students have banded together at times to fight for me more than I could’ve asked for while at Cornell. For example, when I received notice from the government that all interviews were postponed until a budget resolution was passed, these were the first nine people I called looking for advice on how to pursue other opportunities without losing faith in hoping to get an interview with this employer. I cried to just about all of them as I felt like the world had ended—naturally overdramatic. But rather than just sit idly by when I had this unexpected news handed down, each of these nine beloved friends expressed one common theme in their own words: “We’ve got your back, and we’re not going to let you fall down.” They’ve seamlessly always been available when I need them to be there, which reminds me of a fundamental rule of life my father taught me: always have the ability to show up and help others.
If I were to offer some other examples as to how these students have helped me grew personally and professionally, I would feel sincerely guilty for not providing specific individual contributions for each person. In general, I want to focus on the comprehensive theme of inclusion. As I mentioned earlier, I came to know a these nine friends from a host of different incidents: dormitories, classes, walking down the street, etc. My time with each person has allowed me to be a dedicated fixture in their own lives. Continuing with my theme of earning respect from my role in Hotel School Ambassadors, I’ve been given a great gift from these nine friends when they individually have chosen to include me in momentous individual occasions. These events have been as simple as birthday dinners or regular team meals to as elaborate as traveling across the country together to their own homes several times. I agree that these situations sound rather banal. Still, these gestures remind me of the foundation of the hospitality: opening up your home and your life to others and welcoming them in to join.
For several months, I have been constantly thinking of how to reward these individuals for their continued support of my life and career pursuits without belittling the enormity of my friends’ collective and individual works to support me. When considering this reward, I remembered the words of Coach James Valvano, Founder of The V Foundation for Cancer Research and former Head Basketball Coach at North Carolina State University. In a 1993 speech for receiving the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPY Awards, Coach Valvano delivered an 11-minute speech I will never forget. The most poignant words to me were about how to enjoy one’s life, even when faced with the toughest issues:
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week; you're going to have something special.”
Coach Valvano’s words have always inspired me to spend my life around people who have been a part of these three actions (thought, laughter, crying) regularly. Outside my family, the Cornell community has allowed me to meet nine fantastic individuals who have been part of my life throughout these emotions so often. My own Little Rock Nine have given me great enthusiasm to enjoy my life and be passionate about what I want to become in the future. Therefore, I have set up a gift of $42.00 for each person to The V Foundation for the end of this academic year. The choice of $42.00 comes from my friend, Laura Budd, a student at Middlebury College, who once recited to me the following line from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “The ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is 42”.
As I know, some of these nine individuals are also applying for the honor of the Drown Prize. If I were allowed to have done so, I would have written a peer letter of recommendation offering as much praise as possible for why each individual rightfully deserves this honor. Each of these nine individuals shows an incredible amount of selflessness, humility, love, respect, and so many other qualities. If I have the amazing fortune to receive this honor, or better yet if a member of my “Cornell Nine” does so, I’m not sure how I will contain my enthusiasm and excitement. I offer these sentiments sincerely.
4 people found this story inspirational.
Story 8 for Share Your V Story
From:Fairview Park, OH
Posted: March 7, 2011
Gil Maienknecht, an example of "Never Giving Up"
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Gil Maienknecht
Gil Maienknecht
Gilbert "Gil" Layne Maienknecht (1950-2011)
My father Gil was diagnosed with prostate cancer over 4 years ago. Late Friday night (10:49PM, March 4, 2011), after fighting valiantly, he lost his battle peacefully and pain free with loved ones surrounding him. He was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive, androgen resistant form of cancer that ultimately metastasized in various places throughout his body. It was difficult watching him go through various treatments; clinical tests, radiation, chemotherapy, all taking their toll on him. He NEVER once gave up the fight or lost his positive outlook on defeating this horrible disease. I believe his will to live, to fight, and to compete against this disease kept him going much longer than most would have been able to with this same cancer. To be honest, because of his will and positive attitude, the thought of him losing to this disease never really crossed my mind. He was going to beat it, bottom line. It was not until Wednesday night when I arrived at hospice (he had checked in earlier that day) that the reality of things hit me, and my hope waivered. From Wednesday night to Friday night I feel so blessed that I had the opportunity to tell him all of the things I wanted to and to fully express my love for him (as did other loved ones).
In the last 4 years of his life, it became clear to me that he had begun to figure out what is really important in life. He spent his last four years growing closer to my mom (his wife of 37 years), and sharing special moments with her, his sons, and his grandchildren. I am a High School teacher and varsity basketball coach; I am in my thirties and at the stage in life where there is such a vigor and focus on my career, my basketball program, etc. I think about the ups and downs of being a coach and the amount of passion and effort I put into it, how I live and die with every win or loss. If there is one message that I believe he tried to impart on me during this time, it was that nothing matters more than the time you spend with your loved ones, (family and friends). I would call him after a tough loss and complain about a missed lay-up or a turnover, that could have made the difference in the game (he was an ex-coach himself) and he would respond by saying, “hey son…so how is Missy (my wife) and the kids.” Ignoring my complaints as if to say, “Pete, that loss means nothing in the grand scheme, get over it and focus on what’s important in life…your family”. He talked to me about having balance in my life, something that can be so overlooked by a young coach as passionate and dedicated as I am. I will forever be thankful for the message he taught me in his last few years of life and in his death.
My father became involved with the Jimmy V Foundation right after his diagnosis, and for the past three years has run the “Golfing with Gil” outing and auction for Jimmy V in Bowling Green, Ohio. In those three years I have estimated that he was able to raise over $20,000 for the V Foundation and cancer research, each year the event growing in participation and donation. He was extremely proud to be part of such a great organization and to be contributing to finding a cure for this awful disease. My brother and I are committed to continuing his legacy through this great event, and by continuing to help others fighting this disease. My dad truly held the words of Coach Valvano close to his heart until the end of his life…”Don’t give up, don’t ever give up”.
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Story 9 for Share Your V Story
By:Tom Mc
Posted: February 24, 2011
Living the words "Don't Ever Give Up!"
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In the winter of 2007, my father was diagnosed of having renal cell carcinoma and it had formed a tumor on one of his kidneys. Surgeons made a quick decision and decided to remove the kidney and some of the attaching tissues. Confidence was high they had caught it and everything would be ok. After his 6 month check up we were dealt an unbelievable diagnosis. He had terminal cancer that had spread all over his body. While his physicians did not like to deal in specific "time left to live" prognosis, my mom and dad were instructed the situation was grave and they need to ensure their affairs were in order because the outlook was bleak at best. And so as I sat there in disbelief of hearing my father would be gone before I knew it, before my kids really had a chance to get to spend time with their "pop pop" I became angry. This man had spent his whole life working to provide a great life for his family, had recently retired and remodeled a superb lakeside home in upstate NY that friends and family convened at each summer, and was selflessly supporting his church and various missions around the owrld was being stripped of his vitality. I couldn't believe this was happening. So in the next few days, I researched his disease and the available treatments. Discouraged after the research essentially condemened him, I happened upon some inspirational stories like the last lecture given by a college professor diagnosed with terminal cancer and then the famous Jimmy V speech. i remembered watching that on ESPN and when I re-watched it, I knew this mantra of living life was exactly what needed to be done. Enjoy the moments. Enjoy the life. Embrace what God has dealt you and roll with it. This is exactly what my father has done. Luckily for us, he is still here and doing well. After a failed stint on the drug Sutent, he qualified for a clinical trial with Avastin. While we won't know if the drug has been the effective device, or if dad was touched by the grace of God, we do know he has been blessed with additional time to spend with his family and friends and he has made the most of it. He has travelled cross-country to see the majestic national parks of this great nation, has attended many great sporting events like the 200th consecutive home sellout at Notre Dame Stadium (he is a 1970 alumni) and Ohio State/Michigan football games. (My sis and I went to OSU). He has seen his grandkids play in multiple sporting events, been to school plays, done a fantastic salmon fishing trip with a close friend, gone hiking, kayaking, and enjoyed a magical week at Walt Disney World with all the grandkids and family members. He has certainly made the most of his time. He has enjoyed the laughter, has cherished the smiles, and made time for giving back. His deep spiritual belief has never wavered, and to his credit, has been strengthened in his knowing this is all part of a plan for him. Thanks to the V Foundation for the endless pursuit of a cure for this dreaded disease. Many are touched daily by it. The road travelled by families affected by cancer is a tough one, but living the words "Don't give up...Don't ever give up!" have never rang truer to me than in these past few years. Thank you Coach Valvano for words of inspiration to LIVE by.
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Story 10 for Share Your V Story
From:Shawnee, KS
Posted: February 16, 2011
Team Lucy
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In May of 2010, my friends, Bev and Brian, began to worry about their 11-month-old daughter, Lucy. She had been lethargic and started vomiting almost daily. Typical toddler things like ear infections and teeth were blamed, but when Lucy's symptoms didn't improve, further testing was performed. When tests for really scary stuff like leukemia were negative, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Even the doctors were a bit perplexed at first and were convinced it was a virus that Lucy would shake on her own. Finally, two days before Lucy's first birthday, a doctor ordered a scan of Lucy's brain, the culprit behind her symptoms was alarmingly clear: a huge brain tumor had taken over. On the day she turned one, her day began with a team of surgeons and nurses singing 'Happy Birthday' to her and was followed by 6 hours of surgery to remove the tumor. Lucy pulled through like a champ, was smiling as she was wheeled out of surgery, and a follow-up MRI showed that the tumor was virtually non-existent. However, a few days after surgery, once the tumor had been examined, it was found to be an extremely rare, highly malignant form of cancer called AT/RT. This cancer typically strikes kids under 3, like Lucy. After she was healed up from surgery, Lucy underwent a procedure in which stem cells were harvested so that they could be used later when her body was weakened by her upcoming chemo treatments. Lucy then began an aggressive, 6-round chemotherapy protocol which included stem cell transplants after rounds 4, 5, and 6.
Lucy received her treatment at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, which was local for her parents, and they were able to set up hospital and home shifts so that they could keep things as routine as possible for Lucy's older sister, Lilli, who is 3. Around this time, a group of friends formed Team Lucy and began selling purple wristbands imprinted with "Team Lucy". Purple was chosen mostly because of Lucy's dad's passion for all things Kansas State, and the Team Lucy logo was designed, which was a Goose pull toy with a purple ribbon around its neck - a nod to Lucy's nickname of Lucy Goosey, or just Goose. The first 500 wristbands flew out the door and people were amazingly generous in their contributions to Team Lucy, which were to go toward Lucy's expenses. Team Lucy got bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Her CaringBridge site visit count went up, and up, and up. The Team Lucy Facebook page started with a few members and grew, and grew, and grew. Everyone who heard of her story was moved. Everyone. People didn't get just a little bit involved. Everyone jumped on board and stayed on board. There was something about the little red-haired girl that drew people in. Team Lucy shirts were ordered, and re-ordered, and re-ordered again. People walked in the Head for the Cure Foundation's 5k as members of Team Lucy. A Beer Dinner and Silent Auction raised $25,000 in one evening. A donated Harley Davidson was raffled off. Team Lucy even came out in full force to play racy adult Bingo and raised a quick $4,000. Individuals and businesses stepped up to deliver meals, do yard work and house cleaning, run errands, service cars, do dry cleaning, cut hair, donate birthday parties, and the list goes on and on. The countless events continued as Lucy fought through round after round of chemo.
Lucy had ups and downs through her journey, but she always had a smile for everyone. In the hospital, she would get in her little walker and go up and down the halls offering smiles to nurses, doctors, parents, visitors, and the other kids she grew to know and who became her friends. Lucy's family consistently asked for prayers not just for Lucy, but for all of the other children and families at Children's Mercy, which became their home away from home. They were always thinking of others, even as they themselves were watching their daughter battle this awful, awful disease. Bev once said that she would wake up from a horrible nightmare and want to go back to it, because waking up to reality was way worse than anything she could dream.
Lucy's chemotherapy was proving to be effective in fighting her cancer. Unfortunately, it was showing success in wreaking havoc to the rest of her little body as well. Following her final round of chemo and final stem cell transplant, Lucy was in the hospital waiting for her counts to recover. Her kidneys, which were wiped out, were not processing her fluids, which got backed up and eventually led to low oxygen levels. At the same time, Lucy was diagnosed with VOD, a liver disease which is not an uncommon side effect of this chemo. She was admitted to the PICU on a Tuesday and put on dialysis and a ventilator. During this time, she was sedated and paralyzed in order to keep her blood pressure and other vitals as stable as possible. On Saturday, November 20, Lucy's parents came to the saddening reality that Lucy was not going to be healed here on Earth. They made the decision no parent can even fathom making. They unselfishly allowed Lucy to finally be at peace, and in the process, took on the pain of grief themselves. Lucy earned her angel wings in the arms of her parents while wrapped in a favorite blanket with a lullaby playing softly in the background. Lucy was buried in Wichita next to her grandpa Kenny, and hundreds (I would venture to guess close to 1,000) purple balloons floated up to her in Heaven in the days after she arrived there. I hope they made her giggle.
Every day I was amazed at how many people had heard Lucy's story and were following her journey. She garnered a lot of news coverage on TV, radio, and in newspapers. I also found that through Lucy, the world got a lot smaller. I can't even count the number of connections that were made between various people that were following Lucy and were connected to each other in some other way. I am convinced that through 5 degrees of separation, everyone in the world has heard of her story! Team Lucy was made up of friends, neighbors, co-workers, CMH patient families, church prayer groups, innumerable strangers, Kansas State fans (and even KU Fans who would ONLY sport purple if it were for Lucy), news stations, newspaper reporters, business owners...and eventually Dick Vitale. He was made aware of Lucy through the Kansas State Athletic Department, and on the day of Lucy's funeral service, Brian got a personal call from Dick, who expressed his sincere condolences and asked to talk about Lucy in his speech which was to be aired at halftime of the 2nd game of the 2010 Jimmy V Classic. He also extended an invitation to Bev and Brian to attend the 2011 Jimmy V Foundation's Gala in May.
Lucy's legacy is just beginning, and just like the first days of Team Lucy, I don't think we have any idea how big it will become. She has changed so many people for the better. I miss Lucy terribly and my heart aches that she's not here, but I am comforted to know that she is healed and in wonderful hands. Her purpose on Earth was fulfilled in a short 17 months, and she got to move on. We must all now strive every day to exemplify what she taught us, which is to be more compassionate, loving, kind, caring, patient, accepting, and definitely more generous with our time, money, and talent to help others in need. I have no doubt in my mind that Lucy will help to raise many, many dollars for the Jimmy V Foundation.
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Story 11 for Share Your V Story
Posted: February 16, 2011
24 Hours Fitness Helping with my leukemia
Five years ago i was diagnosed with Leukemia ,So far so good, working out at 24 fitness as much as possible i believe help me living a normal life as possible ....