As 2013 soon comes to an end tonight, it ends on some very sad notes. In October, I lost a very dear friend ( Keith Fernandes ) to CLL Leukemia. Keith and I grew up together in San Lorenzo and went to school together from kindergarten until senior year. Keith was a super great guy with a Big Heart and he would do anything for any person in need. He died of blood cancer in October at only age 53. " I will miss you Keith, but you will live within my heart and memories forever".
On December 16th, I lost another dear friend to Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I often talk about my friend Justin Estrada in my blog posts, and how we needed to find Justin his cure. He was diagnosed just after finishing college at UC Davis. Upon finishing college Justin signed up for Team in Training and was going to train for a marathon and fundraise to find cures for blood cancer. He had a bad cough and thought he might have bronchitis. He saw a doctor, did xrays, blood work and a bone marrow biopsy. He soon found out that he had a tumor in his lung the size of a softball. He was diagnosed with the disease that he was planning to fundraise for. Justins marathon plans were put on hold as he began treatment. Over the course of the past five years Justin did two stem cell transplants, was part of clinical trial drug treatment at Stanford (now has FDA approval), and part of a US Government research project in Washington DC. Justin would cheer all his teammates across the finish line at each event, and was an Honoree season after season. His once large tumor shrank down to the size of " two peas and a marble" , but never went away. Justins final cure did not come in time, and he now lives up in Heaven with my buddy Keith. " Justin.....You are a Huge Inspiration too me, and will always be"
Justin was only about 30 years old:(
This week ( December 29th, 2013) our Team in Training friend and Honoree ( Demaris Wilkinson Cowan ) lost her bout to Leukemia. I am now pretty much devastated at this point. DeMaris battled blood cancer for years and did half marathons and fundraised to fund new research and cures. She lost her son David to leukemia when he was a child. She dedicated her life to fund research so others would not die from this disease. When I read DeMaris passed away today, my heart fell apart
" DeMaris.....you are a warrior and my Hero"
For those of you that know me, I was diagnosed in 2006 with Waldenstrom's Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I did treatments in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and today my blood counts are stable for the time being. My diagnosis has no cure at this point, however I plan to fundraise year after year until we find a cures for these blood cancer diseases. I have lost so many amazing warriors/friends/heros to this disease, and I plan to keep fighting and fundraising till the end.
This year with the help of my family, friends and especially my sister Vicky Bevilacqua True and good friend Liz Doliber ........we raised: $ 24,700 to fund new cures and treatments.
My sister Vicky and friend Liz worked so hard on the Man & Woman of the Year campaign. Between all of us and all of you that donated, we raised a lot of money for blood cancer research. As I type this email message, my eyes are filled with tears. I think of Keith, Justin and now DeMaris that fought tough battles. My body has been totally destroyed by this blood disease, and I now live in constant pain. No joke, my legs and feet feel like they have been ran over and crushed by a semi truck. Nasty pain and no cure:( ...........yet.
I will be at it again in 2014 asking you all for your money again. Just one donation, and that's its. Maybe share my blog note and a fundraising link which will be set up soon. I will continue to run marathons and ultra marathons in torturous pain as long as the money keeps coming in for the cause. I completed 8 more marathon events this year ,and six were 31 miles long or greater. My marathon total stands at 28 right now, and next year I want to get in twelve more. My body is not happy with me as I keep pushing it forward. It wants to sit on a couch or in a hot tub and relax, yet I make it run up steep hills and in muddy valleys. I think that I do have a fear that someday I might not be able to do what I enjoy,......running. Sitting on that couch does sound comfortable and relaxing, yet this blood cancer thing does have me very concerned. I think it is best that I just keep on running and fighting for cures. My body may hurt like crap, but I think it is good for my soul as I just fight on for this cause.
Click here to donate
I will miss you Keith Fernandes, Justin Estrada and DeMaris Wilkinson Cowan, and I will always talk to you Angels as I run. You might not be here in front of me, however I know that Angels do exsist and I will Love having you cheering me along my journey.
Thank-you all that donated this year and all previous years!
Your generosity was so totally appreciated, and it truly means a lot!
God blessed us all and gave us life on this earth.
I am sure Keith, Justin and DeMaris would all say........Live it to the fullest each day!
May God bless all of you!
Have a safe and Happy 2014!