I love to run and have been an avid runner since high school. Running helps to keep me centered. As a working mother of 2 beautiful and silly girls with a supportive husband that is frequently out of town for work, running keeps me sane. Running is the time I take for myself almost every day to work out my body and take time to reflect.
Two years ago, in March, my dad was rushed to the hospital. He was having nausea and trouble swallowing causing him to be unable to eat. Being a diabetic, his blood sugar dropped dangerously low and my mom had to call 911. My mom called me to come meet her in the emergency room at the local hospital and I rushed over from work. By the time I got there, they had done a chest x-ray, which revealed a mass in the area of his chest which was blocking his ability have food go into his stomach. During that hospitalization, it was revealed he had Stage III B Esophageal Cancer.
With his fighting attitude and the strength of my mother by his side, he underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments in attempt to shrink the mass with the hopes to have it removed. He also underwent a procedure to push the tumor out of the way in addition to change in food consistency to allow him to continue to eat. My dad struggled as he lost weight and grew weaker, but continued to keep a smile on his face through it all. Due to the complications of treatments and the cancer taking a toll on his body, most of his time was spent in the hospital or a rehab facility. When he was home, he was having physical therapy and ensuring he walked laps around the house every 2 hours with a walker.
He was re-admitted to the hospital in June 2016. I had just gotten the girls ready for school and was on my way to work when my mom called me. She put the respiratory therapist on the phone who said that my dad’s breathing wasn’t right. She was getting ready to call a “Medical Response Team” code (which is essentially a “pre-code blue” or pre-cardiac/respiratory arrest). Since he was “Do Not Resuscitate/Do No Intubate” code status (which he and my mother previously decided due to his diagnosis), the respiratory therapist wanted to see if my mother wanted to call this code. The code was called and he was rushed to the ICU and placed on an alternative breathing machine (instead of being intubated). I raced to the hospital and met my mother outside of ICU and she said, “The doctor has only given him a few hours to live”. I comforted her and then started calling my brothers (who both lived 6 hours away) and told them to come to the hospital.
My dad passed away the next day. Although he was in a deep sleep as we attended to his bedside, he made sure to do it in a calm, non-obtrusive way consistent with his personality (while we were distracted meeting with a church member in the room, Mark, that supported him through his treatments and frequently visited him while he was sick).
From the time of his diagnosis to the time that he passed away, it was only 3 months. When he had trouble swallowing at Thanksgiving dinner 3 months before his diagnosis, we thought it was a residual effect of a previous stroke he had. We knew nothing about esophageal cancer.
April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month. The great people at the Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation, based out of Rhode Island, have provided such wonderful support through this process. Therefore, for the month of April, I will be going on a “running streak” to raise money for esophageal cancer research and to raise awareness for esophageal cancer.
A “running streak” typically consists of running at least 1 mile a day for a certain amount of time. I will run every day of April with a goal of 100 miles by the end of the month. I am going to match each mile with a $1 donation to the Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation. In addition to raising money, I am also going to raise awareness of esophageal cancer. I will be providing facts regarding esophageal cancer throughout the month. We only had 3 months from the time of diagnosis. With more awareness and earlier diagnosis, I am hopeful that others will have more time with their loved ones.
Please join me on this journey. Whether it’s matching each mile with me (running or through donations), a one-time donation, or words of encouragement and support, any and all efforts are very much appreciated.
Thank you so much and please follow my fundraising page on Facebook as I log my miles and provide information regarding esophageal cancer.
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