Team in Training OCIE via Crowdrise
January 07, 2013
Join Team In Training as we raise funds for blood cancer research in honor of our own Dianne Callahan! As the Orange County Inland Empire Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society our goal is to raise $5,000 for blood cancer research for a 5k walk/run on May 5th. That's a lot of 5's!!! Please join or support our efforts in honor of Dianne.
Dianne Callahan, Deputy Executive Director, LLS
I first heard the words "you have blood cancer" in July, 2007. I was 43 years old, with a great job, wonderful family and friends, and I had recently started seeing someone very special. After two weeks in the hospital I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma – it was stage 4 and there is no stage 5. When we received the diagnosis, I suggested to Chuck, the wonderful man in my life, that he should run for the hills. He responded by saying "When God gives you a gift, you don’t give it back." And there, at my hospital bedside, he asked me to marry him.
After six months of aggressive chemotherapy combined with Rituxan, an immunotherapy drug that was found by a researcher funded by LLS, I achieved full remission in January of 2008. Chuck and I were so grateful to LLS for their work to fund vital research as well as providing information and support to me and almost one million other Americans living with blood cancer that we decided to give back in a very small way by participating in the Light The Night Walk later that year. In fact, we ended up combining our September wedding with the Walk; we got married on a Friday night in our backyard, and the next day we got a bus donated and loaded everyone up to walk with us at Angel Stadium. Instead of having a $10,000 wedding, our hope was to raise $10,000 for LLS – we were so proud when "Team I Do" raised more than $11,000!
When Chuck and I married, we each spoke the traditional vows, promising to love one another "in sickness and in health." Chuck made those vows to me fully knowing that most blood cancers are incurable and that we would likely have to fight this battle again. Last November, after four years in remission, I heard the dreaded words: "your cancer is back". This time, I hadn’t felt sick at all – I was even training for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon with LLS’s Team in Training!
Since November, I have been back in the fight for my life through very aggressive chemo in December and a stem cell transplant in February. In support of my passion for research, I am participating in a clinical trial that combines the radioimmunotherapy drug Zevalin, with the standard high-dose chemo of the transplant. I’m told by my doctors that my original 4-year remission was remarkable in light of the aggressiveness of my lymphoma and that it may be harder to achieve that long of a remission this time around. Recently my remission ended and I am now undergoing a second stem cell transplant, with donor cells. I will be checking into the City of Hope "Resort and Spa" in January and it's game on!
In March, 2009, I was asked to change careers and come work for LLS leading the Light The Night campaign. Chuck and I agreed that this would be my purpose – my crusade – to use the experience we went through to help inspire others to raise funds to find better treatments and cures for blood cancers. Today, I serve as our chapter’s Deputy Executive Director and I am honored to provide leadership for the Light The Night, School & Youth, Regatta, and Man and Woman of the Year Campaigns, working with amazing staff and passionate volunteers. My deepest hope is to help fund many more scientific breakthroughs so that when others hear the scary words "you have blood cancer," they might have an easier path back to health.