Happy early Mother’s Day to all the incredible moms out there! To celebrate, we’re bringing you the story of two Team In Training participants who also happen to be mother and son. Natalie Parrish is a not only a leukemia survivor, but a TNT superstar. She has completed two hike events, four Olympic triathlons, and one half marathon. Inspired by his mother’s fight against cancer and dedication to the TEAM, her son Dean has been itching to be old enough to join, too. Read on to hear their story and why the Parrish family comes back to Team In Training season after season.
Natalie: Being given a cancer diagnosis was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever faced. Of course, being a mother, the first thought was about my children. All our lives changed with that diagnosis the doctor gave me. It’s amazing how quickly and without any warning your life can be turned upside down. I felt so scared. I remember asking my husband if I was going to die, not knowing he just faced that same question from our 9-year-old daughter. I tried to be brave for my kids; I tried to be as normal for them as possible. The fear that I saw in their eyes angered and saddened me, for I was the one that caused it. Me, their mother, put this fear in them. I remember hoping for life. I wanted to live. I wanted more than anything to watch my children, Dean and Allie, grow into the fine adults I know they would become. I can remember lying in my hospital bed thinking how much I wanted to be there for them when they learn to drive, for their first date, graduation, marriage, parenthood, and all of the things in between.
I had just finished the main part of my chemotherapy treatment when I received a TNT flyer in the mail. I opened it up, read it, handed it to my husband and said, we are going to do this. I need to do this. You see, the very first bit of information my doctor gave me in the hospital regarding the type of leukemia I had was a pamphlet provided by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. My doctor also informed me that I was lucky to have gotten the leukemia that I did, patients with this subtype of AML are among the most frequently cured he told me. The fact that this disease has gone from highly fatal to highly curable is amazing. Great efforts made by funded researchers and scientist worldwide have made this possible. That is why am I alive today. Why I was here to watch my daughter graduate from the 5th grade and begin her journey through middle school. That I was here to see my son graduate from 8th grade and witness him embrace his role as a high schooler.
I have done two hike events, four Olympic triathlons, and one half marathon all with Team In Training to raise money and awareness for blood cancer, for I personally know, just how important new advancements to cancer treatments are. Now my son and I will embark on a new journey together, a TNT journey, where I will be his personal cheerleader and an honoree for his team. I am so excited for him and I can’t wait to see him cross the finish line!
This Mother’s Day we are going to the Henry W. Coe State Park and the Pine Ridge Association’s annual Mother’s Day breakfast. This is one of my most favorite Mother’s Day activity to do with my family. The morning starts with a just over a mile hike to a yummy western-style breakfast, a little bluegrass music, and amazing views.
Dean: My parents have been involved with TNT since the Spring Season of 2009. My mom was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia in 2008. When she was in the hospital I, along with my sister, my dad, and all who knew her, feared we would lose her. During this time I did not cry once because I thought that if I did it was admitting that she could die. It might have been bad to repress my emotions, but that is what I thought was best. After my mom went into remission both my parents joined Team In Training to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I have been to several meetings, team events, supported water stops, and have volunteered at the LLS office.
Now that I am 16 years old I can finally join the team too. I want to join the triathlon team for three reasons. One, for my mom, two, to support The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and three, just to be able to say I’ve done a Half Iron distance triathlon! I am very excited about being part of an organization that helps so many people, people like my mom. I can’t wait for my first workout and to meet the team.
Since my parents are very involved with Team In Training, they were all for me joining the team. They did suggest that I might want to do an Olympic distance instead of the Half Iron distance triathlon as my first event. Hah! Of course I want and will do the Half! So that is what I have signed up with the fall triathlon team to do. I will be training for the Big Kahuna triathlon in Santa Cruz. I will swim, bike and run 70.3 miles to help find a cure.
TNT teams are forming now for marathon, half marathon, triathlon, cycling and hiking events. For more information, call (800) 446.9460 or visit www.teamintraining.org/gba.