Let me begin with a quick story. In mid May 2017 I ran a 5k (3.1 miles) in under 28 minutes. At the end of May I ran the Bolder Boulder (10k or 6.2 miles) in 61:55. Both of these are personal bests. I was in the best shape of my life when I turned 54 in June.
On September 3 I climbed Mount Sherman, a 14,000 peak. It was harder than I expected. I just chalked it up to taking a few weeks off from running. On the 4th I climbed Chief Mountain (~12,000 ft) and then we drove up Mt Evans and we climbed that last few hundred feet to the top. Again… it was more difficult than I expected.
The following two weeks I was just exhausted. I felt I was still at the top of the mountains. I didn't seem to be able to sleep enough even with 10-12 hours of sleep. I felt a bit short of breath. At the suggestion of some good friends, I went to the doctor. He initially felt it was nothing. We drew blood to check that and the next day my phone was ringing off the hook. Something serious was going on. Kaiser (thank goodness for Kaiser) had already set up two appointments for me without even asking. We went in on a Monday to get a bone marrow biopsy and that Thursday I had an appointment with an Oncologist. We actually got what seemed like good news. I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). Lucky? Well we had spent the prior week thinking I had Leukemia. MDS was good news in comparison!!!! People live many years on MDS.
Unfortunately, my MDS had other ideas. It has proven to be aggressive and within 6 weeks we met with a specialist from the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute. Due to certain issues, I am progressing much faster than expected. That was the bad news. The GOOD news is that we discussed a potential cure! We discussed the option of a bone marrow transplant. This is now actually a stem cell transplant. It seems magical! Something straight out of science fiction! The is procedure is no walk in the park. I will have to spend a month in the hospital followed my 2 more months with 24/7 care at home. This will be followed by at least 3 more months of recovery at home. It is going to be a long and difficult process.
The worst part about all of this is that MDS has made me anemic. My red blood cell counts (Hemoglobin or Hgb for short) just keep dropping. In fact, all of my numbers are out of whack. It is just part of MDS. I can become physically fatigued just walking across the house. Climbing a flight of stairs causes shortness of breath, muscle fatigue, and if I am not careful, it c an take one to several hours to recover. To go from running a 10k to not being able to walk up a flight of stairs. It blows my mind every day that my body can change so drastically in just a few months. What a joy!
I do want everyone to know that my spirits are high even though my energy is low. Please don't take my lack of wanting to spend time with you in any way other than the fact that it is exhausting.
Through all of this my family has been there. Starting with my daughters, Jenna and Amber. They have been to every appointment. They get me information. The translate medical speak into English for me. They have cleaned my house for me. They, along with their children, are my angels. THANK YOU! Then we have my parents and all of my siblings. Bill, David, Doug, and Marsha have all been very supportive. I wouldn't be able to do this without all of my family. I love you all!
A little bit more about my recovery. Jenna and Amber are so gracious to want to be my caretakers when I return from the hospital. This is a very critical stage. Germs of any sort could be life threatening. My house will have to remain germ-free for months. This will be a time period where we might be able to use some help. 24/7 care while raising children will not be easy. We will build a schedule of how people can help.
The intent of this site is to give you timely reports on my progress and to make it easy for us to schedule how others can help. I have had many requests… so many that I don’t know how to thank you all. It is very heartwarming to say the least.
I am grateful to everyone that has, or will, offer to help.