Guest Blog: My & Team Kim’s Journey – Ben Wang, Team In Training participant & founder of Team Kim

That was the worst part about having cancer, sometimes: The physical evidence of disease separates you from other people.

John Green, The Fault in Our StarsIMG_7639

I know my wife, Kim, felt that way. Maybe it was the filter mask that gave it away, a particular hair do or the PICC line. Kim passed away nearly six months ago, from an aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). She had been battling it the prior two years earning brief remissions through chemo. She survived the stem cell transplant from her superhero sister Jess, a perfect match. At the end, her will to live never succumbed, knowing that I and our twin three-year-old daughters wanted and needed her, but the chemo was too strong and the leukemia, too stubborn. After being in love for the past fifteen years, I feel flattened missing her every single moment of every day.

In the ensuing weeks condolences, support and hugs came flooding in. But none of it hit the pause button on my feeling of loss. As the one left behind, I felt separated from all others without any physical evidence of the disease, just the sole inward facing loneliness and melancholy. Our friends Tom and Deanne, both Team In Training (TNT) veterans, suggested that we put a team together to honor, remember and celebrate Kim. As a runner, I had often seen the TNT purple jersey at races but was unfamiliar with the mission and the program. Deanne discovered that should we fundraise over $100,000 as a team, we would be able to name a research grant in Kim’s honor. Furthermore the research grant would go towards The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Beat AML initiative, with the aim of curing AML with advanced targeted therapies.

It made sense on many levels. Kim was a runner, was invested in her treatment and became knowledgeable about new clinical trials. Kim was also a uniter. The idea that groups could come together to do something positive would be right up her alley. It sounded almost perfect, though the idea of talking, or blubbering, about Kim and her story to strangers felt uncomfortably raw. Still it was the first time I could see the tiniest bit of daylight breaking through the gloom, the seed of which would become Team Kim.

At the kick off meeting for the TNT Peninsula team, I recounted Kim’s story and shared the nascent journey of Team Kim. Preventing my voice from cracking was challenging but I quickly saw in the gathered group of other participants, volunteer coaches and team manager, understanding, compassion, drive and community. People whom I had never met were moved and I in turn began to feel some peace that Kim was continuing to inspire people, the way she did for me every day. I haven’t stopped missing Kim, but with each Mission Moment, track practice and fundraising event, I feel less separated from others. I found some measure of solace in the sprints and the pauses, the shared words and understood silences.

IMG_4968Team Kim has now swelled to 71 runners and walkers nationwide and together we have raised over $170,000 to support AML research. We will run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco this October. I am proud of our accomplishments as a team and very hopeful that our efforts have helped raise awareness, will help find a cure and bring people together when loss has separated them. Undergoing this journey has united me back with old friends, new friends and myself.

Team In Training is about possibility, relentlessly realizing new cures for hematological malignancies and driving people to accomplish endurance events they’d never imagined they could do. In the aftermath of losing Kim, I could not imagine a life unscarred. In the end, tragedy and loss unfold before all of us. As Edward Hirsch writes in Gabriel:

I did not know the work of mourning
Is like carrying a bag of cement
Up a mountain at night
Look closely and you will see
Almost everyone carrying bags
Of cement on their shoulders
That’s why it takes courage
To get out of bed in the morning
And climb into the day.

 

As one of too many left behind, carrying those bags, it can feel unbearable. Climbing with Team Kim and TNT is having a family help lighten the burden each step along the way as we begin our ascent to a new normal.

Ben Wang is a Team In Training participant and founder of Team Kim, a nationwide group of TNT participants dedicated to raising money for AML research. Follow Team Kim’s story at www.goteamkim.com and learn more about Kim at www.kimbwang.com.

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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Blood Cancer

Blood cancer isn’t 10609676_10152661727613724_6359606049812725582_nsomething most people want to talk about. In fact, we’d probably be happy to go our entire lives without ever giving it a second thought.

Unfortunately, with more than 1.1 million Americans living with (or in remission from) these diseases, most of us know someone who thinks about it every day.

The statistics are improving and promising research developments are announced every day, but we still have a long way to go. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) focuses on raising awareness every day but for September – Blood Cancer Awareness Month – we’ve set an even greater challenge – raising $300,000 in 30 days.

Think about these facts:

  1. Every three minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed and there are few (if any) means of preventing or screening early.
  2. In 1964, a child’s chance of surviving acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood leukemia, was 3%. Today about 90% of children survive.
  3. Since the early 1960s, the survival rates for many blood cancer patients have doubled, tripled or even quadrupled thanks to research and access to better treatments.
  4. Nearly 40 percent of new cancer therapies approved by the FDA between 2000 and 2013 were first approved for blood cancer patients.
  5. Multi-drug chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation was first successfully developed for blood cancer patients.

We’ve come a long way!

Last year alone, LLS invested nearly $80 million in cutting-edge research – bringing the total to more than $1 billion spent to advance cancer therapies and save lives. Yet, despite this progress, more than one third of blood cancer patients still do not survive five years after their diagnosis.

Currently, LLS-funded research teams at multiple institutions are testing different approaches to activate the immune system to kill cancer cells. They helped advance an antibody therapy that helps boost the immune system to attack cancer cells in patients with lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and are working to advance new FDA-approved targeted therapies to treat patients with CLL and other B-cell cancers.

To keep up this progress and achieve our goal of a world without blood cancers, we need to invest in more research to find cures. We need your help.

Please help us meet our goal. Donate today.

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Donate to LeukoLab in 5 Easy Steps!

Did you know you can donate to LeukoLab in just five easy steps? Learn how today!

 

LeukoLab helps blood cancer patients by collecting donations of blood cells from healthy donors and providing biotech companies and academic institutions with a reliable source of blood products for the development of cancer treatments and other therapies. Each donor is generously compensated, ranging from $35-850 per donation! LeukoLab has been a proud sponsor of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training (TNT) since 2012, and donors can choose to have a portion or all of their money go towards their Team In Training fundraising efforts.

Your single donation can support up to 60 different research projects, helping researchers spend less time looking for donors and more time on results. Click here to view more fast facts about their donor program!

To learn more, visit www.leukolab.com, or call (510) 521-7400 ext. 280 and mention that you are a Team In Training participant. LeukoLab is conveniently located near the Oakland Airport in Alameda. Go Team!

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The 2014 Light The Night Walk Season Begins!

Over the weekend, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Greater Bay Area Chapter hosted its Light The Night kickoff to celebrate the start of the 2014 walk season!

The event was hosted at Lucky Strike San Francisco, where 300 Light The Night Walk guests were treated to breakfast, fundraising tips and a program where the 2014 Honored Heroes were introduced. After the kickoff program, guests were given special LLS baseball gear and snacks, and headed to a San Francisco Giants game in a special LLS-hosted section!

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Our Light The Night Walk season has officially started, so be sure to sign up today! View all of our different walk locations below and register online at www.lightthenight.org/gba.

San Francisco
Tuesday, September 23, 5 pm
AT&T Park – Pier 48, San Francisco, CA
 
Napa Valley
Saturday, September 27, 5 pm
Veteran’s Memorial Park – 800 Main Street, Napa, CA
 
North Bay
Saturday, October 11, 5 pm
Old Courthouse Square – 500 4th Street, Santa Rosa, CA
 
San Jose
Saturday, October 18, 5 pm
Discovery Meadow – 180 Woz Way, San Jose, CA
 
East Bay
Saturday, October 25, 5 pm
Civic Park – 1375 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, CA
 
Peninsula
Saturday, November 1, 5 pm
City Hall Plaza – 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA
 

Sign up today!

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Join Moms In Training for our Fall Season Today!

The incredible moms with Team In Training’s (TNT) Moms In Training are back at it again for a fall season! Join this great group of moms who are getting in shape, meeting other moms and saving lives as they train for the Monster Dash, a Halloween-costumed family fun run or walk in San Jose on Sunday, October 26, 2014.

You can register for this amazing program at http://www.teamintraining.org/gba/moms!

Moms In Training will be hosting fun meet-ups around the Bay Area where interested moms can attend to learn more about the program and get their questions answered! Kids and toddlers are also welcome to attend any of the meet-ups listed below:

  • Thursday, August 14 at 10 am, San Bruno ParkGO MOMS!
  • Friday, August 15 at 10 am, Palo Alto Mitchell Park
  • Saturday, August 16 at 9 am, San Jose Houge Park
  • Saturday, August 16 at 9 am, Rose Garden at Golden Gate Park
  • Sunday, August 17 at 10 am, Redwood City Stulsaft Park
  • Monday, August 18 at 10 am, Washington Park Sunnyvale
  • Thursday, August 21 at 10 am, Washington Park Burlingame
  • Thursday, August 28 at 10 am, Central Park San Mateo

The training season will kick off on August 23 or 24 at various training locations throughout the Bay Area. Children in strollers are more than welcome at kickoff and at workouts throughout the season!

Moms In Training is a flexible nine-week workout program where moms come together socially to get in shape while raising funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). Workout groups will be available in San Francisco, Walnut Creek, South Bay and the Peninsula.

Join Moms In Training today!

Questions? Contact Stephanie Wissler at Stephanie.Wissler@lls.org or 408-490-3130. GO MOMS!

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Thank You LeukoLab!

LeukoLab has been a Team In Training (TNT) sponsor since 2012, helping blood cancer patients by collecting donations of blood cells from healthy donors. LeukoLab was established to provide biotech companies and academic institutions with a reliable source of blood products for the development of cancer treatments and other therapies.

You can donate to LeukoLab in 5 easy steps – for each donation, you’ll be generously compensated, ranging from $35-$850 per donation. You will be paid directly by check and you may choose to have a portion or all of this money go towards your Team In Training fundraising efforts!

Your single donation can support up to 60 different research projects, helping researchers spend less time looking for donors and more time on results. Click here to view more fast facts about their donor program!

blog_karla-vasquez_leukolab

Special thanks to TNT participant Karla Vazquez! Karla completed her first event, America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride, last year and joined TNT to support her 13-year-old nephew who battled leukemia for six years and is now in remission. On top of raising money on behalf of LLS she has also donated her blood for researchers working on therapies in these areas!

To learn more, visit www.leukolab.com, or call (510) 521-7400 ext. 280 and mention that you are a Team In Training participant. LeukoLab is conveniently located near the Oakland Airport in Alameda. GO TEAM!

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Thanks to Sprout San Francisco!

We want to take a moment to thank one of our generous sponsors of our inaugural Moms In Training Season, Sprout San Francisco! Because of Sprout San Francisco, it’s possible for over 60 moms to train for the See Jane Run 5K Stroller Stride while raising funds to help find a cure for blood cancers!

Sprout SF

Sprout San Francisco is a natural and organic children’s boutique. Their mission is to help families provide the healthiest home environment for their children and to help them avoid environmental causes of cancer and other illnesses. Suzanne Price, owner of Sprout, states “Sprout supports LLS because we have seen the rising rates of childhood cancers and believe that at least some of this is due to environmental causes. We hope to continue to support Moms In Training as they grow and get more families involved in this wonderful cause.”

Sprout San Francisco has two locations in the Bay Area.  Visit their San Francisco store at 1828 Union Street, San Francisco or their Mill Valley store at 12 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley.  Thanks again to Sprout San Francisco and GO MOMS!

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Join Our 4-Week #TNTPhotoChallenge!

We’re so excited to launch our Team In Training (TNT) 4-Week #TNTPhotoChallenge on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, starting today and every Monday in May!

TNT 4-Week Photo Challenge

Every Monday during the #TNTPhotoChallenge, we’ll pose a new challenge for each and every one of our TNT followers to take pictures of during the week. All you have to do is take a picture of the challenge at a training session, with your team or even at a random moment during the day and post it on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page with that week’s dedicated hashtag and #TNTPhotoChallenge.

At the end of each week, we’ll choose a random photo to be that week’s winner! The photo will become our cover photo and the owner will receive an awesome TNT swag pack!

Here’s how to post to our page:

Whether you’re signing up for our fall season, training towards a summer event or taking a break from TNT, we challenge everyone to join our #TNTPhotoChallenge!

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Stratford School’s Fremont Curtis Campus Raises Over $18,000 for LLS’s School & Youth Program!

For the past four years, the Stratford School’s Fremont Curtis Campus has hosted a Jog-A-Thon to benefit its Pennies for Patients campaign, which is a part of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) School & Youth Programs. This year, the school hosted the Jog-A-Thon in March and raised a total of $18,204 to help fight blood cancer!

Through all of the annual Jog-A-Thons, the school has raised an impressive total of $43,301. Every year, the students jog and cheer, and show incredible generosity and support to each other and their campaign. In fact, one of the top fundraising students this year asked for donations to the school’s Pennies for Patients campaign instead of gifts for her birthday, which falls during the campaign each year!

jogathon61

The Jog-A-Thon was such a success that it was even featured in the local news, which you can read here. We send a big thank you to the students, faculty, staff and families at Stratford School’s Fremont Curtis Campus for their generosity and hard work towards their Pennies for Patients campaign!

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Volunteer Appreciation Week – Our Team In Training Volunteer!

Our final featured volunteer for Volunteer Appreciation Week is from Team In Training – Barbara Dahlke!

TNT - Barbara Dahlke

Barbara, a mentor for one of our cycling teams, got involved with Team In Training several years ago when her friend encouraged her to train for a marathon. Amazed by all of the incredible life-saving work from LLS, Barbara was reminded of her grandfather who passed from leukemia at the age of 34 and joined the Team In Training family. Although she never had the opportunity to meet her grandfather, she now feels a connection to him whenever she trains. After participating in her first event with Team In Training, Barbara decided to participate in a Sea Otter Century ride and within a few weeks of training, two of her college friends were diagnosed with cancer. Now her friend Ted, who is battling leukemia, is her cycle team’s honoree for the America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride in Lake Tahoe this year! She’s so excited for the event in June and can’t wait to see the huge smile on each team member’s face as they cross the finish line!

Thank you to all of our highlighted volunteers and to everyone who has ever dedicated their time and effort to LLS! We are so grateful for all of your incredible support!

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