Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Touched by many

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Here's a great photo of Dori with the kids today. I'll also include on her CaringBridge page.

Dori continues to be loved by so many. Today, friends Michael Cooper, Scott McConnell, Mariesa Snell and Russell Palk came by. It's a fairly steady flow of great people who care about other people. I am glad they care about Dori.

Dori's friends are helping keep mailmen busy. She gets several cards a day, and received a wonderful care package from Catherine Johnson and a great book and food basket from my Aunt Renee. She received some DVDs from SBA friend Carol Dunn and very nice pajamas from Mariesa and Monica McDougall. I am just scratching the surface of so many wonderful gestures. We've had many great meals lately, including some tasty grub from Jennifer Burns, Kathryn's SBA basketball coach, and Denise Shaw, who replicated Dori's chicken and dumplings recipe to perfection. All of you ROCK!

Kathryn, Will and I had a good pep talk this morning. We rehashed some previous conversations and then talked about how we can take out frustration better (not on each other or ourselves). There are better ways (exercise, asking God for strength, thinking good thoughts when bad ones pop in our heads, and preparing in advance for tough situations that will likely occur). They agreed to make a go of it. The last few days have been hard, but today has been much better.

I took out my frustrations on a poor treadmill at the Green Hills YMCA today. I ran a 40:58 5-miler, then a cooldown mile. I felt strong after Sunday's 11 miler, but didn't want to go near a training cliff. So I snuck in some stomach work (Lord knows I need it) and called it a day.


Recent photos

As promised, here are some recent photos. Doesn't Kathryn look great? She's no longer a "little girl." My Mom, shown with Will and Kathryn outside her catering business, also looks fantastic. She is a great person, not just a great Mom. I also have included a photo from last week's City Paper Reunion of Paige Clancy, Amanda Wardle and Amanda's daughter Selah. It was nice to have the old Business section back together.


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Monday, July 30, 2007

Five weeks until VB Half

My Virginia Beach Half Marathon is 35 days away. Last week's training went well. The only thing that's been missing is some speed work, which I plan to fit in this week.

Schedules did not align yesterday, so Ann DeNunzio and I could not do our weekly long run together. So it was off to the Y yesterday afternoon. I shook off some blahs and ran some 9:13 miles, then some 9:05s. At around four miles, I started feeling OK, so I dropped down to some 8:57s and 8:49s. I finished my 11th mile in 8:41. Final time: 1:39:08, or a 9:01 pace. My heart rate reached a reasonable 155 BPM. Projected 13.1 yesterday was a 1:57:18. If conditions are good in VB, I think I can get sub 1:55. My PR is a 2:06 (twice in 2006), so there is much time to shave on Sept. 2.

Dori, my sister Anne and I are at Hotel Vandy talking about lots of stuff. One topic is how we used to look at people who had been through chemo (bald and feeling ill). We used to feel sorry for them, even self conscious. Now, I have a completely different view - I want to convey strength, determination and admiration. Will asked Mom recently if she will be wearing a hat or a wig when she gets out of the hospital. He said he's concerned she might scare his friends with a hat or cap. Anne is helping Dori get a wig, so all seven-year-olds will be able to roam the streets free of chancing upon a very cute bald woman.

Weekly training recap

Monday - 4.5 miles, untimed, 85 degrees, 58% humidity, moderate terrain
Tuesday - 3.2 miles, untimed, warm, moderate terrain
Wednesday - 7.0 miles, 1:00:10, 8:35 pace, treadmill
Thursday - Strength and stretching
Friday - 5.0 miles, 44:47, 8:57 pace, 82 degrees, 65% humidity, half hilly/half flat
Sunday - 11 miles, 1:39:08, 9:01 pace, treadmill

Total miles: 30.7 miles

Friday, July 27, 2007

Radnor run

This morning, I went to Radnor Lake, our treasured state natural area down the street, for a run. It was 82 degrees and quite humid, 65 percent. I ran a modest pace down to Franklin Road, which is 2.5 miles away from the West Entrance parking lot, and headed back.

Those of you who know the hill from Franklin Road back to the park know it is a bear, especially in heat. A year or two ago, I might have mailed it in, walking the 3/4-mile slope. The elevation change is about 250 feet. In crisp fall air, it's not too tough; in the summer, it's a challenge. Up I went at a modest pace.

I finished the five miles in 44:47, or an 8:56 pace. I didn't push it because I want to preserve some energy for Sunday's long run. I'm at 20 miles for the week, so I'm thinking 10 will be a good distance on Sunday. Yesterday, I did some good strength and stretching. Training has become more of a mind game to me this year, since about May, really. I have had some downs, including one very frustrating 7-mile run with friend Chuck Hargrove, who has been helpful to me. But most of my training this summer, in the heat I used to whine about, has had ups. I actually have said several times summer running has been fun. The key is to mix in some treadmill runs. Also, I have become a smarter runner, knowing what to add to my regimen and what to avoid - both through trial and error and by reading magazines and other people's running blogs.

I'm at Hotel Vandy with Dori and the kids. Mom watched Kathryn and Will this morning. When I got to Mom's kitchen, out walks Kathryn with a snazzy new haircut. She looks like Farrah Fawcett! Dori did a double-take when she walked in the room. I will post a few photos later, but it's amazing to see our beautiful little girl take one step closer to being a young lady.

Friend John Marcheschi, he of the infamous posts on CaringBridge, will be in town this evening. We'll go to my Mom's for dinner, which is always fun. John and I will visit Dori tomorrow morning. I also plan to swing by a City Paper reunion this afternoon. I loved working at The City Paper as business editor. Looking forward to seeing Paige and my many good friends from Newspaper Land.

To all you Vandy fans ... aren't you pumped that football this year looks promising? It's the first time since I can remember we've had three respectful recruiting classes with good senior leadership. WR Earl Bennett says the goal is a BCS bowl, not just a bowl. Set your sights high, let everyone laugh, then do it.

Dori will join me this year as Vandy plays in a BCS bowl. That sounds nice.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Relief and joy

A lot of people asked me today how it feels when you hear your wife is "negative for leukemia," as today's report read. You feel relieved and joyful. Dori used the same words, along with happy and grateful.

You thank the Lord for a reprieve for your wife and children. You also think about getting this ship, which is now patched up and seaworthy, to the dock. Mission one accomplished ... Getting Dori cured is mission two. Sorry, I'm an old Navy guy.

I am at Hotel Vandy with Dori, who is laughing on the phone with friend Liz McConnell (Scott's wife). We had a wonderful dinner from Margot Cafe. It's French and Italian country food on par with the best cuisine in the country. I bought a super-tasty bottle of French red and some creme brulee for Dori (her favorite), and we shook up this sterile joint. We had a wonderful celebration.

Dori and I have become friends with several folks on the 11th floor. We were delighted to hear Kim Swindall, married to Dori's former co-worker Melody, went in to remission yesterday. We are praying hard for Chuck and Abbie Hendry. Chuck is battling AML and is having a rough time with chemo.

Dori finished Lance Armstrong's book, It's Not About the Bike. She loved it, even underlining certain passages. The kids are now donning two junior LiveStrong bracelets for their strong Mom. They, along with our wonderful families, were very happy today.

I ran 3.2 miles last night untimed in our neighborhood. Pepper ran with me, which was fun. He keeps getting attacked by other dogs, even though he is deaf and does not taunt. You should hear me scare the crap out of attacking dogs. Don't mess with a man dealing with his wife's leukemia. Today, I ran 7 miles at the Y in 1:00:10.

Thank you for your prayers of thanks and hope as we continue this journey.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Leukemia fundraising update

Here's an update on my/your effort to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (and some other good news). First, I thought I'd share something Dr. Greer at Vanderbilt told me last week.

He said the clinical trials for leukemia and related diseases are really in high gear and producing meaningful results. He said it wouldn't be possible without the generosity from so many people who want to beat these diseases. I've related to you all before that these efforts aren't solely for Dori but for all the leukemia patients who have and will be impacted by blood and marrow cancers. These diseases are like thieves in the night.

To date, you all have contributed $8,975, or 18% of my goal for the Sept. 2 Virginia Beach Half Marathon. There will be 20,000 runners at this year's half, and organizers expect $1.3 million will be raised for seven causes, which includes LLS. Dori thinks my goal of $50,000 is ambitious. Perhaps, especially since almost all of my time these days is spent being Mom, husband and runner in training. I am encouraged, however, on many fronts.

First, those who have already given have made very generous contributions. I can tell some friends really dug down deep to express their love for Dori and others and to encourage her in this fight. I will be in touch with a more personal thank you down the road, but THANK YOU FOR YOUR WONDERFUL SUPPORT - ALL OF YOU.

Second, I am encouraged to hear that people like Becky Reese, a good high school friend of Dori, has started raising significant money for LLS at an upcoming event in Colorado. Add her early efforts, and we're nearly at $10,000, or 20%. If any of you are doing something similar, please let me know and we'll aggregate all these efforts.

Third, I know many people who haven't contributed who are planning to do so. Fourth, I am hopeful some substantial contributions are forthcoming, and I plan to turn over a few other stones before September. One other note: If you are a frequent visitor to this site and/or a contributor, please consider forwarding this blog entry and the link to my Make Cures Happen page (it's on the left).

The end goal is to make a substantial impact on beating and treating leukemia and related diseases. I think it's one way you and I can show support for Dori, along with getting on the National Marrow Donor list (July 18 post). But let's be frank, the most gratifying thing will be to see Dori kick leukemia in its scrawny little a**.


Waiting again

It's been an emotional last few days for everyone in our clan, especially Dori and the kids. I'll go light on details and talk big picture - we are praying hard for Mom to get good biopsy results soon. I am optimistic after a few letdowns. Dori and I agreed again to approach as we have before.

Kathryn said some funny things to me the last 24 hours. Last night, she noted, "No offense, Dad, you're a great Dad but not a great Mom." Agreed. There is only one great Mom. Today, she cushioned the blow by adding, "Well, you're doing an OK job as a Mom without much experience." I love her take on things. K-girl and I fished for two hours this afternoon (her request) at Marrowbone Lake. We caught some nice bluegill, but more importantly, had some poignant conversation and good time together. Will has had a play day with his buddy, William Antony.

Our friend, Scott McConnell, heard some good news overall today. The largest of three tumors in his lung has shrunk. He'll still need surgery to get that bad boy out of there, but he's a strong dude with a great attitude. He's been, along with his wife, Liz, a great friend to Dori and me.

I ran 4.5 good recovery miles yesterday on moderate terrain in 85 degrees and 58% humidity. I was a bit sore from Saturday's 11 miler, but the oil can (moving everything again) helps the Tin Man get loose after a mile or so. I'm planning to do a short run tonight ... probably some junk mileage while my sister hangs with the kids.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Good photos of Kathryn and Will

Here are some recent photos of Kathryn and Will. They are having an active summer, as mentioned, in large part to friends of our family who have organized some fun days. The pictures are 1) Kathryn catching a fish on a day out with friends from St. Bernard Academy; 2) Me with Kathryn and friend Caroline Selinger (left) at the July 4 party my Mom threw; 3) Kathryn the artist and fashion model at my Mom's (Kathryn is gifted like my artist sister, Anne; she's wearing one of the hats Aunt Kathy, who also went through chemo, gave Dori); and 4) Will and Kathryn at a Sounds game with Dad.

Enjoy. Jim

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Four biopsies

Dori has now completed four biopsies, the last one less than two hours ago. She just ate some food I picked up from the cafeteria - two pesto pizza roll-ups that she devoured. Great job on all fronts by Big Rabbit.

Dori mentioned some of the things she has loved or appreciated since being in the hospital. They include the teddy bear from our children, Werthan's sugar free coffee drops in the neat gift basket from my co-workers, the pajamas from Heather, all the iTunes gift cards and DVDs, her new baseball caps, the Panera lunches from Jan and Faye, the praying shawl from Laura, and the "flower" from the McCormicks. Every gift has been special, really.

Dori asked me today what good has come from this ordeal, from my standpoint. "Seeing all the love," I said quickly. Our children have noticed "how many people are doing nice things for us." Your prayers and thoughtfulness just continue to amaze us. Thank you again on behalf of all of us.

Dori and I have had an emotional day today, complete with reprofessing our love for each other. I so want to see Dori home - for her. Dori calls leukemia a "double whammy" - you get to go through chemo and then you don't get to go home. She is thinking about how to help people in her situation down the road. Not surprising.

I plan to run 5 easy miles this afternoon. Here's the training recap from last week. Thank you for your prayers for good biopsy results this week.

Weekly training recap
Tuesday - 9 miles, 1:21:14, 9:01 pace, treadmill
Wednesday - Strength and stretching
Thursday - 5 miles, 41:27, 8:17 pace, treadmill
Friday - 3.86 miles, 31:26, 8:08 pace, 82 degrees, 34% humidity, moderate terrain
Saturday - 11.0 miles (unofficial, may have been 10.9 miles), 1:34:41, 8:36 pace, 62 degrees and 65% humidity, moderate terrain

Total miles: 28.9 miles

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Good week of running

Before I get all impressed with myself ... check this out. Dori exercised THREE TIMES yesterday after a week of chemo. THREE TIMES! She walked twice and rode the bike for 17 minutes. Do you think that inspired me? You bet your rump it did.

This morning, I ran the full length of Belle Meade Blvd. twice with our good friend, Ann DeNunzio. That's 11 miles, or just a tiny shade under. Ann is a machine - she's run the Boston, Chicago and New York marathons. At the latter, she ran an amazing time, like a 3:40 or something. Ann, who is planning to join me in Virginia Beach Sept. 2, was my rabbit today. We were blessed with very good conditions - 65 degrees and 65% humidity.

The first 5.5 miles went well, but around mile six, Ann started pulling ahead. We ran the first 5.5 in 47:10, or an 8:34 pace. Ann picked it up, and pulled ahead of me by 10-15 seconds. I worked to stay with her. At 8.25 miles, I was at 1:10:10, or an 8:30 pace. That's where I noticed a bloody right nipple. Off went the shirt. Thank God very few motorists were around.

The last 2.75 miles are mostly uphill. Not steep, but good gradual gradients. Ann pulled 30 seconds ahead of me, willing me to follow. I did, keeping her in check (I know she dialed it down a time or two ... she looked in good form today). I was really feeling the run now, but no way was I not going to go sub 9:00 for 11 miles after Dori's regimen yesterday. Of note, Dori is reading "It's Not About The Bike" by Lance Armstrong, which I can't wait to get my hands on. I'm also wearing one of Lance's yellow LiveStrong bracelets, courtesy of my sister Anne's good friend Kristen Meadows. I looked at that bracelet a lot the last two miles. Welcome, Pain. Hope you enjoy my finish, courtesy of Ann, Lance and mostly Dori.

I reached the Percy Warner Park gate in 1:34:41. That's an 8:36 pace, not shabby for a big boy like me. I am most pleased with last 2:75 miles, which I ran modestly uphill at an 8:58 pace. This came on the heels of a four-mile run last night at Radnor Lake at an 8:08 pace. Total mileage for the last six days is 29 miles. Training is going well.

I am off to Pancake Pantry soon to visit with good friend Chip Saltsman, who is running Mike Huckabee's campaign for president. I like Huckabee, and not just because he's a runner. He's a common-sense guy. Looking forward to hearing about the campaign and seeing Chip.

Kathryn gets to fish today with one of her teachers, Mrs. O'Neal, and three good friends from school. Their parents invited K-girl, and she's pleased as punch. Will and I will go see Mom around lunchtime. We'll watch some sports later today and relax. I am looking forward to a few cold ones and melting in my chair.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Last day of chemo

Today is the final day of Dori's chemo. The kids and I will visit Mom later this morning and tell her how proud we are of her. This round was harder than the first for Dori, which was tough to watch at times but also inspiring to see Dori emerge in a positive way. She smiled and laughed all day yesterday. It filled my heart. We heard about the ups and downs of chemo from many, and are certainly experiencing them. The biopsy is scheduled for Monday. We need a win.

Kathryn had a sleepover last night with good friend Suzanne Eastwood, while Will went to the pool yesterday with his Grancy and buddy Henry Mangialardi. My Dad took sister Anne and me to Jimmy Kelly's for a very good beefsteak tomato salad and steak dinner. We conducted the usual Brown ribbing session. It was good to get out.

It was Boys Night on Belmont Park Terrace last night. Will slept with me, along with our dog, Pepper. Will tends to be more emotional than Kathryn, who can shed a tear but not as often as her brother. When Will got weepy last night, I asked him if he remembered what I said to him Sunday. He did, that I said "This sucks," and it's OK to let it out whenever he feels like it. I also continue to promise him that we will get through this as a family. We said our prayers last night for Mom, then went to sleep. I know most of you know how proud we are of our two children. It does suck they have to go through this. He also knows we won't use the word "suck" with our friends or at school, just whenever we feel the need as a family.

Wednesday was spent on strength and stretching. I ran a 5-mile run at the Y yesterday afternoon in 41:27, or an 8:17 pace. Started at 8:57 and ended at 8:00 pace. HR was a little high (167) at the end of the run, but back down to 109 three minutes after. I may run some junk distance today before a long run tomorrow. It's supposed to be cool tomorrow. Seems like this summer has been cooler and less humid than other years ... am I imagining things?

By the way, friends, I love hearing from you. I have enjoyed your posts. If you have a thought, please share; if not, let us know you've been stopping by. Have a great weekend and thanks for lifting up Dori and our family.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007


That's the number to get on the national marrow donor list.

Since many of our friends have asked about helping Dori, we thought we'd make sure you know about the National Marrow Donor Program. I've added a link to NMDP's site, as well.

I have been amazed to hear that several of our friends are already on this list. It would be great for more of you to join. Sometimes, finding a genetic match for people can be challenging. The more who are on the list, the more likely more lives will be saved.

1-800-MARROW2. You can also ask for a kit online or find a donor center near you, if you prefer. The cost is between $52 and $96 and it's tax deductible. Please consider getting on the list, and please spread the word. If you get on NMDP's list, let us know - Dori and I enjoy hearing how our friends are helping.

Dori woke up feeling nauseous this morning. A few drugs have knocked that out. Chemo is a weird bird. One minute, you feel functional; the next, no way. Two more days until a reprieve.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

New shoes, new attitude

It is amazing what a new pair of shoes can do for you. Yesterday, I bought a pair of Asics Gel shoes for $120, which is on the higher end for me. I am so glad I did.

Today, I ran nine miles on the treadmill in 1:21:14, or a 9:01 pace. No blisters, no fatigue, just the normal feeling when you run a good nine miles. Two days ago, I felt fatigued and pained as I ran down the boulevard. Yesterday was a day of much soreness and even mild doubt about my training. Today, I am actually looking forward to running again. My body is thanking me for spending the extra $30 on good shoes. My attitude has changed for the better.

So what's the hardest part about watching a loved one battle leukemia? It's not watching your wife go through chemo. It's not even the anxiety of waiting for biopsy results, though that is high up the list. The hardest part has been wanting to be two places at once, but having no control over it.

Separation - either from Dori and the kids - has been very hard. Since June 15, I have been with one or the other, but rarely with both. I very much want to be in both places, comforting Dori and leading the kids. I'm not a micro-manager, but I do want to be able to respond when needed. My family has ably helped out, but it doesn't replace the feelings I have. Most of you know the hardest part of this ordeal for Dori has been separation from the kids and not being home. Yes, the uncertainty of all of this is big, but that is in God's hands (we are playing to win and trust Him). The earthly part of this can be a pisser when you love three people so much.

I better not end on that note. So here's something positive ... my friends at work have been great. Yesterday, two great NFIB-ers, Judy Parsons and Valerie Nagoshiner, delivered a care basket of goodies for Dori, me and the kids. Looks like a lot of folks in Marketing, Public Policy and Media contributed. I've also received some nice calls from leaders within the organization lately. Thanks to all of you for your love, prayers and support.


Sunday, July 15, 2007


I wasn't the happiest camper on Friday. On Thursday, I had been told the preliminary results of Dori's biopsy looked encouraging. (We had asked not to know the prelim results, by the way). On Friday, the doctors walked into Dori's room, and I knew we were not going to hear good news.

So Round Two of chemo is underway. I won't recap the status. That's on tonight's CaringBridge post, linked to your left. I will, however, share some insight on what the last 48 hours have been like.

First, they seem like two weeks, not 48 hours. Time is creeping along. Days seem like weeks, weeks like months and the first month at VUMC like a year. Now imagine how it looks to Dori, who is experiencing all of this in a small room, and occasionally the 11th floor. The occasional trip to the 1st floor x-ray room must feel like a drive to Franklin.

Most folks who know me well know I'm not often at a loss for words. I said very little Friday day and night, which I spent with Dori, and not much more Saturday. I finally felt the blood starting to circulate last night at my Mom's house, where I had dinner with family. Today, which started with a 5 a.m. run on Belle Meade Blvd., has been much better. The will to get back at this and encourage Dori to ultimate victory has returned. Church this morning, as well as good time spent with the kids, also helped. Will and I watched the Cubs on TV and he pitched to me. The kid has a live arm and spots his fastball. Watch out, David Price.

So we got some lemons on Friday. Today, we're sipping lemonade. I know Dori has the will to win this fight. Some days, like Friday, have been tough. But losing is not an option. If we need to get Tim Corbin (again), Bobby Johnson, half the VU baseball and football teams, and the school marching band in her room, we'll do it. Dori, who has started a goal list in her journal, adores Vanderbilt sports, like me. Watching Vanderbilt at a bowl game is on my list this fall. So, now, is having Dori at my side. I hope she adds that to her goal list. My bet is she will when she reads this.


Weekly training recap
Monday - Strength and stretching
Tuesday - 5k, 27:00, 4 1/4 miles at 1:40 pace
Wednesday - 10k, 54:36
Thursday - 2.5 mi. untimed
Saturday - 2.5 mi., 23:00
Sunday - 5.5 mi., 51:40, then 2.1 untimed

Total - 22.9 miles

Remarks - I need new shoes in a big way. The last two weeks of running have been tougher on me. It is time to get weekly miles up near 28-30 a week, then 30-35 the last few weeks.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Funny moments from the first month

OK, since we we're waiting interminably for biopsy results, how 'bout a little levity?!?! Dori and I did a little Super Friends' "twin powers activate" and came up with the following:

One of our favorites: Jim's college buddy John Marcheschi declaring his public love on CaringBridge for Dori, and alarmingly, for Jim, who brings out "his gay-recessive gene" and who he looks at like a curious step-brother. Several of Dori's friends have asked who John is. Here's the cliff's notes version. John has his feet firmly planted in two states - Hilarious and Disturbing. And that's the way we like him.

"I'm not a cripple." - Dori, after Jim offered to help Dori get something during chemo. "And no one said you are, honey."

Dori: "Yes, and tomorrow, nine more doctors are going to look at my a** again to see how my bruise looks."
Jim: "And yes, once again, they will come away impressed."
(Applause to Dori for getting in touch with her inner sailor's mouth during chemo)

During the first week, we put up many photos in Dori's room, one of which has Jim holding a large rainbow trout when he was 25 pounds heavier and wearing a Bill Murray-like Caddyshack hat. Jim could not resist writing, self-deprecatingly, on the photo, "Jabba no look good ... nice fish though." This made Dori very happy.

Dori called Jim at home during the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother," when Marshall was preparing to run a marathon ... Marshall was applying vaseline to his nipples (we runners do this to avoid chafing) while giving himself a pep talk. The fact this made Dori laugh hysterically is mildly bothersome to Jim, but I'll take one for the team. Did you know bananas are your friends?

"You look like you should be running an art gallery in San Francisco." - Jim to Dori when she put on her reading glasses after getting her head shaved. The vote is in, folks, from everyone on the 11th floor - Dori is still cute as a button.

Many, many posts on CaringBridge!


'It's good for you.'

"It's good for you."

Yep, that's what Dori said this morning when I pressed her for an answer to, "Do you enjoy the fact your husband is doing all the laundry, dishes, sweeping, vaccuuming, bill-paying, errands, shopping and other chores?"

At first, she said she wished she were home doing these things. Of course, that is very true. She wants to be home in a big way after a month in the hospital. But I think she appreciates that I have been exposed fully to everything she does for our family. Guys, two things and let's be real - Women got the short end of the stick and be sure to do more than you're doing to help around the house. It will be good for your marriage.

So VU is losing Gordon Gee? I think he has been a great chancellor. I never saw Joe Wyatt in my four years at VU, but Gee is everywhere. He has helped grow the university in so many areas and the school is no longer viewed as snobby, for the most part. Gee and others have been accessible and approachable. I especially love what he did in athletics - the restructuring, though utopian and idealistic, really does send a message that college athletics is about the long-term value students have in our society rather than segregating athletes and treating them like professionals. Sure, VU takes the mighty NCAA money like other SEC schools, but our kids graduate and stay out of trouble, while performing at a high level. Ohio State reclaims a great leader. I hope VU stays the course. We need to keep David Williams and the board needs to insist the status quo on the athletic reorganization.

I ran an untimed 3 miles this morning with our rescued dog, Pepper. He had a ball, and I enjoyed a leisurely trot in 63 degree, non-sticky weather. Pepper and I repelled a three-dog attack. Earlier, I tried to catch a spider on our kitchen floor to kill it. When I did, the spider birthed hundreds of babies. I killed every one, except the mother, which is now in our yard. Are these two incidents metaphors for Dori's leukemia being wiped out? I like to think so.

We should know results soon from the biopsy. We're ready again for both scenarios, but I have a better feeling about this one. I'm usually right about these things. Pray that I am again.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Results later today?

Dori called to tell me the docs may have the biopsy results a little early, perhaps today. I am heading to VUMC soon to be with her this afternoon.

The kids have playdates soon and will be with my Mom and step-father Dan again tonight. They love going over there (lots of computer time, sports on TV and good food).

I ran last night at the Y and again this morning. I ran an easy 5K in 27:00, then did 4 1/4 miles at 1:40. This morning, I ran an easy 10K in 54:36. HR was 157 after, 114 after three minutes. I don't have much in the tank right now, just getting in the miles. Plan is to run another 7-8 before the weekend, then go 10 early Sunday. It is supposed to be cool this weekend ... which will be nice.

Praying hard for good results. Dori and I will welcome good news.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dori update and a grab bag

I have a lot on my mind, but don't know where to begin. Dori said I should post "random Jimmy thoughts." I'll do that, but first just another update on Dori, in addition to what we posted earlier today on CaringBridge.

Dori's blood pressure is good, and her temp went down from 101 last night to 98.6 today. Her room and a few others on this floor, on the other hand, are really warm right now. The maintenance folks are out in the hall trying to fix.

Leroy, one of the care practitioners here, is going to shave Dori's head in a few minutes. It's time, Dori said. Most of her hair already is gone, and the eyelashes and eyebrows are next, I'm told. I think Will will be fine when he see's his Mom bald, but Kathryn has been talking a lot about this. They'll be a little shocked at first, then they'll adjust well, if I know our children.

OK, here are the random thoughts:

- The nurses and care practitioners on the 11th floor at VUMC are phenomenal. Yes, they're professional, but they have so much patience and character to be doing what they do so well. Blanche, one of the head nurses, told me today the staff members up here request to work here. Wanting to be in the game is huge, but why else are they so good? I think most of them have seen a lot and know how to catch things early. They know how to leave work at work. They live healthy, balanced lives. They have a passion for healing people. Dori and the other patients are in tremendous hands.

- Like Dori, I miss the routine we had. I'm not complaining, because there's a reason I am where I am right now. I just miss the same ol same ol. Dori and I know we have been blessed in this life many times over. No matter how hard we try, all of us take things for granted. I'm sure I will again when things return to normal, but I bet it won't be as often.

- Dori and I are raising two amazing children. I look at them every day through this, and just think ... these kids get it. They are loving people who laugh a lot and make others around them feel good. They're smart, witty, polite and observant, and they have a boatload of friends who are good people. I better stop ... these are random ruminations. Just check out the new pics I posted the other day on Dori's CaringBridge site. Photos don't lie.

- I don't know what's going on in the world right now. I don't miss it, to be honest. I do know I don't make for good conversation on current events these days. I just know I still don't admire Paris Hilton, while being truly in awe how some can care how Ms. Rich B***h is getting along.

- I really love Dori's sister, Kathy, and my sister, Anne. They are from the same mold. Kathy and her husband, Nathan, are also raising two great kids - Parker and Claire. We spent a week last summer with them and had a ball. My sister, Anne, is a giver, just like my Mom. If she likes you, watch out ... you will be loved and taken care of. Her two cats, Olive and Woody, must be very happy.

Leroy will be here soon. Time to shave. I've told Dori several times he won't be shaving her smile and her cute nose freckle. All hell will break loose if he does.


Monday, July 9, 2007

Readying for tomorrow

Today was fairly uneventful, just a tiring day for Dori. She is increasingly tired and decided not to shave her head, but will just let the rest of her hair fall out from chemo.

Her weight has stayed steady (132 pounds today), but she has a temperature (101 degrees). Because of that, the kids and I are staying home tonight instead of paying a visit.

Dori is getting ready for her third biopsy tomorrow ... it would be great to hear Wednesday or Thursday her marrow is empty. That would mean Dori could come home in a few weeks if her blood counts come up. Of note, she is not seeing response from platelet transfusions, so the docs are working on that. The large mouth sore is gone, though, which is good ... She is taking a lot of antibiotics.

Today's workout was strength, stomach work and stretching. It went well. I will run again tomorrow. Thanks to all of you who have supported my upcoming run in Virginia with a donation ... I will thank everyone more formally down the road, but I just think you guys are awesome to want to do this for Dori. We are all running for Dori.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Kids enjoying Mom time

Kathryn, Will and I are with Dori in the hospital room. They are having a good time after spending a few days at my Mom's. Kathryn is cleaning out and organizing Dori's fridge and Will is getting a head rub from Mom.

Dori is getting her head shaved today. I think she's going to do fine with it. There are some bigger picture items on her plate, of which she's aware. She has some wonderful "head gear," including hats from her sister's chemo two years ago (breast cancer in remission), a pink VU baseball hat from Coach Corbin, a cool brown baseball hat with a pink heart from Mariesa Snell, and knitted hats from step-mom Peggy. I predict the two baseball hats will get the most "Dori head time."

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to run with Ann DeNunzio. We met up at Radnor Lake, ran through the park, down Franklin Road and Robertson Academy, over to Lealand, Glendale and Lone Oak, and then back down Belmont Park Terrace. Total for me: 8.7 miles, 1:20:46, or a 9:17 pace. It wasn't hot (72 degrees), but very soupy (83% humidity). I felt at some parts of the run I was breathing water. I was so wet from head to toe that I probably lost five pounds of water.

Ann is a Roadrunner, while I'm more like a buffalo. I can still run; there's just more inertia when I do. I think I'm on pace for a good half marathon. Today's run had some good hills. Virginia Beach will be flat. Ann slowed down for me today to a manageable pace (she wanted to go 8:45 or faster, but graciously ran with the buffalo). Maybe I can show her a better pace soon with less humidity.

Church this morning was empty, but friends Heather and Kris Kemp were there, as always. They are good folks to talk to ... very grounded and positive, and they love Dori. Our whole Game Club (we meet monthly) has been fantastic ... Mariesa, Monica McDougal, Marian and Michael Kohl, Michael Cooper and Bethany Jackson, Mary Belle Grande ... all of them. I thank you for being such good friends. Dori has talked about you all. We still owe you some BBQ and fun when we're back home.

Have a great week everyone. Play the Top 5 in the previous post for some fun. Dori, the kids and I are going for a walk in the hall.


Weekly training log
Monday: 4.35 miles, 37:30, 8:37 pace, 84 and sunny, moderate terrain
Tuesday: Strength and conditioning
Wednesday: Firecracker 5K race, 24:09, 7:47 pace, 72 and 70% humidity, mostly flat with one hill; (finished 302 out of about 1,400, 38 out of 102 in 40-44 age group)
Thursday: Rest day, some swimming
Friday: 5.0 miles, 41:30, 8:18 pace, treadmill
Saturday: Rest day, swimming
Sunday: 8.7 miles, 1:20:46, 9:17 pace, 72 and 83% humidity, moderate to hilly terrain

Total: 21.2 miles

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Welcome, good news.

Finally, we have some good news. Last night, Dr. Greer told Dori and me the team isn't sure they see any leukemia from the recent biopsy. The doctors confirmed that view after comparing the first and recent samples of her marrow.

Their first thought Thursday was some leukemia remained after chemo, but now, they're not sure. So chemo is on hold, and Dori is scheduled for another biopsy on Tuesday.

Dori decided we should not share the news last night until the doctors were all onboard with their assessment. This morning, the doctors said they all concurred with the assessment and plan. We were encouraged last night, but didn't want to spread false hope to family and friends. As hard as it was not to tell immediate family, I think Dori made the right call. Dori and I have both taken the approach not to get too low when we hear bad news and not too high when we hear good news. The end goal is to win, and you must focus on clearing hurdles, both high and low.

I really think leukemia picked the wrong girl to mess with. Dori has found a lot of courage from within through this ordeal. Three weeks ago, the thought of a needle in her back and extracting marrow made her very uneasy. Tuesday, she will get her third biopsy. Dori started in Biopsy Double AA, but now is a Biopsy Big Leaguer. She is still walking and riding the bike each day, and is planning to visit fellow patients this weekend on the 11th floor. One is a friend of a friend of my sister Anne (he just checked in), and another is the husband of a former co-worker. Dori mentioned when she gets healed that she will be "doing something good to help those in a similar situation and something to give back." She's not sure what that is, but she's resolved to something significant. I think she's already doing that.

My sister Anne and I went out to Mafioso's last night for pizza and beers. We had the best service from Justin, a 22-year-old with the looks and personality of Matthew Broderick. He played along with us all night as we did Top 5 lists (Top 5 movies, dinner guests we'd like to have, musicians, etc.). It was good to get out. Mom watched the kids, who love hanging at Nana's. For the record, here are some of my Top 5s:

Top 5 Dinner Guests
Abraham Lincoln
Winston Churchill
Gene Wilder
J.R.R. Tolkein
Mark Knopfler

Top 5 Musicians/Groups
Dire Straits
The Police
The Moody Blues

Top 5 Movies
It's a Wonderful Life
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Saving Private Ryan
Raiders of the Lost Ark

What are yours? Please share!

Run for Dori Update: I ran yesterday on the treadmill. Five miles at 41:30, an 8:18 pace. I felt heavy again. Ann DeNunzio and I pushed back our long run to Sunday morning. I may run a few miles today, or just join my kids at the pool with my Mom, or both.

Friday, July 6, 2007


As Dori said last night on CaringBridge, we didn't hear the news we wanted to hear. The leukemia is still around, though the chemo has knocked it down from 35% to 5%-7%.

Obviously, we're experiencing new emotions, and they're very raw. Dori is still processing everything, and we have many questions for the doctors today. We were both deeply disappointed last night (still are). I was also angry last night for the first time during this ordeal. I thought to myself, "How can a healthy woman who is living her life right be subjected to something like this? Especially when I see hundreds of people in the hospital elevator who are obese with McDonald's bags in hand or they smell like an ashtray." Yes, VUMC has a McDonald's on the 2nd floor. Who made that call?

I slept at the hospital last night with Dori, which was a good call. Dori and I talked and prayed together. My mom has the kids, who have been told Mommy needs more chemo, this weekend. She and my sister Anne are just awesome.

Thanks to some good advice on CaringBridge and some fortitude from within - I really believe my military training is helping - I'm ready for Round Two today. Dori is going to kick leukemia square in the ass. This morning, we both said we're going to win, even as we stare at this surreal situation.

Bill Trocchi, I am glad you are part of this fight ... looping in Coach Corbin and now invoking the 24-hour rule has been inspirational for both Dori and me. It has been reassuring to hear from old friends, like several former co-workers at The City Paper. We've heard from Bill, Paige Orr Clancy, Catherine Mayhew, Brian Brown, Danny Bonvissuto, Megan Moriarty, William Williams and I hope I'm not leaving anyone out. But you guys are the best. I hope I can make TCP reunion that's in the works.

Yesterday was a rest day with the kids (TV and the pool). I plan to run today and a long one early tomorrow morning with good friend Ann DeNunzio. Ann is an elite runner who recently hammered the Boston Marathon. She is tough as nails, the perfect training partner for someone like me who wants to elevate his performance. I am running for Dori in Virginia, but I am also running for those of you who are backing us. It is a great channel.

I could write a book about the last 48 hours. But other chores await. Until the next post, please keep Dori and our family in your prayers.


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Today was a Run for Dori

I am sitting here with Dori in her hospital room on July 4. Still seems surreal, even 19 days after she checked in to VUMC.

Dori, once again, is in good spirits. The kids are at the pool with my Dad and Peggy, my nice step-mom (she jokingly calls herself "wicked stepmother," which she most certainly is not). Dori noticed her hair is beginning to fall out (I noticed yesterday), and her bruises are more prevalent since her platelets are so low. We are eagerly awaiting biopsy results (Dori was told this morning it won't be today). Our plan is to watch more of The Office today, and I will bring the kids down here at 8 p.m. so we can watch fireworks from the 11th floor.

This morning, I ran the Firecracker 5K in Maryland Farms with friend Michael Kohl. My time was 24:10, a 7:47 pace. Not bad, not great. It was muggy (70% humidity) and 72 degrees. I didn't sleep much last night, for obvious reasons, so I was not feeling the freshest.

I was drenched by the first mile marker. A new iPod mix helped and I found a few folks who were cruising at the same pace. The course is mostly flat, though there is a decent hill toward the end. One teenage girl, at around 4K, projectile vomited right in front of me. She just missed getting me.

I started feeling the run at around 2.5 miles, but welcomed Mr. Pain along for the ride and thought of Dori. It made time pass quickly. 5K is such a short run, when you've been running 8 or 10 miles. You just make your body stay in form because you know you won't have to for much longer.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th. We are fortunate to live in a great country, even with all the flaws and warts of our leaders and political system.


Tuesday, July 3, 2007


I've been reminded many times since Dori has been in the hospital why she's my soulmate. One of them is how hard we laugh at The Office. It's so irreverent and politically incorrect, and so unlike who we are as people, yet we both get and love that silly show.

Dori especially likes Michael, who "runs" Dunder-Mifflin. Her second favorite character is laid-back Stanley, the African-American who is the exact opposite of wound-up Michael, whose mouth runneth over.

I like those two, but have to put my chips on a few others - boisterous Todd Packer, who appears every three or four shows, Dwight Schrute, assistant to the regional manager, and Toby, the HR manager who actually has written and co-produced several shows. I also like pitiful Jan, Michael's boss. Funny, another favorite character is delusional Rose on Two and a Half Men. Why do hapless people make me laugh? Rut-roh. That's a couchful of canned worms for Dori to sort through once she's back at full strength and focused again on keeping me out of trouble!

I did some modest lifting before tomorrow's 5K. I also paid the bills, tidied up, did another load of laundry (the key is not to let it build up!) and got the kids to camp and a friend's house on time, among several activities.

I was with Dori today from 9-1:30. Her biopsy lasted 40 minutes (full details on CaringBridge linked on this page). We are praying for good news (empty marrow) while preparing for both scenarios. We are optimistic and appreciate the thousands of prayers our family and friends are saying every day.


Monday, July 2, 2007

Tough run today

The only thing good about today's run is it's over. No sugarcoating.

I ran 4.35 miles in 37:30, or an 8:37 pace. I felt like I was running in slow motion. It was warm (84 degrees and sunny), but humidity was down. I just felt sluggish. Runners either feel light or heavy, and today I felt like Fat Albert. I think I need a rest, so no running tomorrow, just some lifting. I plan to run the Firecracker 5K Wednesday with friend Michael Kohl.

Dori has her bonemarrow biopsy tomorrow. We will probably hear the results on the 4th. We are praying to hear the word EMPTY. That means remission has been achieved, get your blood counts back up, go home for a few weeks, and come back for the cure. If the results are as good as Dori has felt the last few days, we will be in good shape.

I walked a mile with Dori this morning; later, she hopped on the bike for 25 minutes. She has been adamant about staying on her feet. There are at least three others on her floor who are the same. One exercises four times a day. All of these people are positive and upbeat, even as they face such a challenge. It's like watching the spirit of your favorite athletes all at once. Indomitable will and character. Dori is one of them.

Thank you for your prayers. We'll post Dori's biopsy results on CaringBridge when we know them.


Sunday, July 1, 2007

The week's running in review

Thanks to my sister, Anne, who watched the kids for a spell at the YMCA pool, I snuck in one final run this week.

It was a very good one. I ran a 21:24 5K, which is a 6:54 pace. The last half of the run was at a 6:30 pace. My heart rate was 158 at the end, 135 one minute after, and 108 three minutes after. So I had a little more in me, but I felt like not much more at the end.

The run was on a treadmill, so it gets an asterisk. That said, according to mcmillanrunning.com, I could do a 1:38:55 half marathon if properly trained and under ideal conditions. I will get a true test and picture of my fitness under tougher conditions on Wednesday - I plan to run the 5K Firecracker Run at Maryland Farms.

So why are my times plummeting? Probably a combination of things. I am training harder and smarter. Listening to the Donelson Y ladies was smart. I reached a certain level under my own program, but if I wanted to get better I needed a new plan. That plan is working.

My attitude is better, too. I've decided 80% and 90% won't get it done. When pain arrives, I welcome it now rather than curse it. I simply owe it to myself and Dori to bring 100% every day to training. If Dori can get on a bike twice a day during chemo, I can make it hurt on the weight machines and in the hills on a hot day.

Lastly, I have a goal to have a great race after three mediocre half marathons. I'm proud to have finished those races, but been there done that. This race is now for Dori and all those battling leukemia and who will battle leukemia.

Here's the week in review. Pray for good news on Tuesday for Dori. You are appreciated!

Monday: 5.6 miles, 51:00, 9:17 pace, 71 degrees and 85% humidity, moderate terrain
Wednesday: Strength and conditioning
Thursday: 10.0 miles, 1:29:59, 8:59 pace, treadmill
Saturday: 5.62 miles, 45:10, 8:02 pace, treadmill (also four 1/4 miles at 1:37 pace)
Sunday: 3.1 miles, 21:24, 6:54 pace, treadmill

Total: 24.3 miles

God's grace at work

The kids and I went to church this morning. After Mass, good friend Michael Kohl joined us for a visit to see Dori at Vanderbilt. Later in the day, Mary Belle Grande went to see her. My sister Anne, her friend Kristen Meadows and Marian Kohl are also planning visits today.

Dori is feeding off these visits. I'm telling everyone the same thing - go see her! She's generally been up for visitors; if she's tired or feeling nauseous, I've asked friends to make it brief. That formula seems to be working.

The tremendous love our friends have been showing has been God's grace at work. That's also how I would categorize the visit Vandy Baseball Coach Tim Corbin paid Dori on Friday. Coach Corbin and an assistant spent 10 minutes with her. Part of that time, they looked over some photos we've put on the wall in her room, some of which were taken at Vandy baseball games. The photo of Dori on the CaringBridge site (www.caringbridge.org/visit/doribrown) was taken at the Friday night VU-UT baseball game in late April.

Before VU baseball was cool, my family watched the program closely. The main reason is the players and coaches are first-rate people, not just great athletes and administrators. All-American third baseman Pedro Alvarez, for instance, wore me out this year with "Yes Sirs" and "No Sirs," and really encouraged Will. I told Coach Corbin earlier this year the reason we come to so many games isn't because he has the No. 1 team in the country, but rather Will and Kathryn get to watch nine role models play the game the right way - all out and with class.

Dori told Coach Corbin on Friday what I told the kids after VU rallied from a huge deficit in the SEC Tournament to Ole Miss: "Never, ever, ever, ever, EVER GIVE UP." I see that same determination now in Dori. We will enroll Will, who is a good player, in Coach Corbin's baseball camp next summer.

Yesterday, Will and I went to the hospital to join Dori for a haircut session. Will's buzzcut looks good. Dori looks good with short hair. It's curly in the back. She wanted to get this done before hair began to fall out. Special thanks to our friend Linda Buppert for coming to VUMC for the haircuts. Linda, who runs The Look salon just off Elliston Place in Nashville, is the best.

This week, the kids are in camp again. We'll gather at my Mom's Wednesday with friends for Independence Day. Tuesday is the really big day this week. Dori gets another bonemarrow biopsy to ensure the chemo worked and the leukemia has been knocked out. Your prayers have helped Dori sustain her courage and optimism. Please pray now for good results and low anxiety before then.