Welcome to the Ironman Lake Placid 2017 Lucky 13 Team Double D page!
About Team Double D: this July 23, in Lake Placid, New York, I will be setting out to check off an almost life-long goal: to complete an Ironman endurance event - a goal that was side-lined for a year after my best friend and sister-from-another-mother, Diana Di Mare, died from Stage IV, or Metastatic Breast Cancer, on January 22, 2016.
Last July of 2016, I was supposed to attempt Ironman and see her at the finish line. We talked about it excitedly during a trip to Lake Placid to celebrate New Year's Eve where she walked back-to-back 5Ks on December 31, 2015 and again on January 1, 2016. We looked at frozen Mirror Lake and I laughed nervously thinking that in seven months time, I'd be attempting to swim 2.4 miles in that ice.
But on the drive home from Lake Placid on January 3, 2016, Diana told me she wasn't feeling well and slept most of the way home. I wasn't too surprised as we had such an action-packed weekend and she was dealing with residiual and chronic aches and pains from the breast cancer that was in her bones and from the medicine she was taking to try to shrink the cancer and put her into a stage known as NED - no evidence of disease. Little did i know on that drive home that two weeks later, she'd be in a coma and then five days later, pass away.
Little did I know. And sadly, little do most people know about Metastatic or Stage IV Breast Cancer. So here's what you do need to know:
- Metastatic breast cancer, or Stage IV, is the spread of breast cancer to non-adjacent parts of the body - most commonly to the bones, liver, lungs and/or brain. Many effective breast cancer treatments exist, but if the cancer metastasizes and spreads outside of the breast, there is no cure.
- 100% of breast cancer deaths occur because of metastasis and almost 100% of poeple whose breast cancer has metastized will die from it.
- The median life expectancy for patients with Stage IV breast cancer is just 26 months, and fewer than 1 in 4 survive for more than five years.
- Popular breast cancer fundraising movements give on average only 2% of their research funds to researching metastasis. Instead, their primary focus is on prevention, which does nothing to help those already diagnosed, and early detection, which does nothing to those already impacted with Stage IV breast cancer.
- While only 6-10% of initial breast cancer diagnosis are metastatic, 30% of patients diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will eventually develop Stage IV breast cancer and die.
- Diana was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 37; she lived for two years once she was diagnosed with Stage IV and died at 47.
Stage IV needs more. Many metastasis researchers believe that metastatic breast cancer could become a chronic, rather than terminal, disease if only more money was received to do the research necessary to develop effective treatments.
I was completely devastated after Diana passed away last year but kept trying to persevere and follow-through on my commitment to her to finish Ironman Lake Placid. A recurring injury and a personal family crisis finally sidelined my Ironman 2016 dreams but I vowed to resurrect them once I felt stronger. I owed my partner-in-crime nothing less out of respect for how much she loved life and lived it to the very last second.
When I set out to do this last year, I told Diana I was going to do it as a way to raise awareness and funds for metastatic breast cancer research and we discussed which organization I should select as the beneficiary. We both agreed to METAvivor.org because 100% of the money raised goes towards research only.
Because of that, I decided to choose METAvivor again for 2017. It is a small but mighty organization that launched a nationwide effort to push to dedicate 30% of all breast cancer research funds towards metastatic breast cancer since 30% of the patients will ulimately die from it. Makes sense to me.
I hope you can be a part of Team Double D (Diana's initials and her cup size which she was rightfully so very proud of!) with any contribution you can offer. I'll do the hard part of the training (six days a week) and completing the 140.6 miles (2.4 mile swim, 112 bike ride and 26.2 mile run) on July 23 if everyone else on the Team can just help support the cause of finding help for patients - men and women - diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. I picked the amount of $6,500 as my fundraising goal because Diana's birthday was June 5 (6/5).
Let's get this done for a girl who gave the world her heart - which is right where she will be when i endeavor to cross the finish line in Lake Placid on July 23. I never believed I could do it, and still wonder about the enormity of it but she ALWAYS believed in me. It's that faith and unconditional love that is going to carry me through this event.
Oh, and why Lucky 13 in the team name? Because 2017 is 13 years that I've been living cancer free - albeit not always guilt free. Surviving the beast when people you love fall left and right around you is not easy but it sure as hell fuels the fire within.
No retreat, baby, no surrender.