Monday, June 30, 2008

Good Clinic Visit

Dori heard good news today at her monthly check-up. Her blood counts look good. White blood cell counts and platelets increased, while red blood cell counts went down a smidge. Her RBC and platelets are still below normal, but we're told the overall picture looks good. As you can imagine, today was a great day. When Dori called me with the good news, she sounded like a 21-year-old girl.

Last night, Dori and I joined our friends, Donna and Runcie, for some Carrabba's (good chain, one of the few) and the new Indiana Jones movie. In high school, Runcie and I went to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" more times than I care to share on this blog. Let's just say the Hillwood Theater only charged 99 cents and Runcie and I didn't drink or get in trouble in high school. Last night's movie cost $9 a head.

I liked the movie, especially the opening scene with the Russians in the warehouse and the ant scene. All the Indiana Jones movies are a stretch, but this one was on the outer edge. I also thought the script was too crammed in the beginning (too much information too fast). I like my Indiana Jones punching, dodging and weaving, not explaining too much. I'd give the flick a 7 or 8. Raiders is a 10, and the other two are 7s in my book.

I ran yesterday and today. Yesterday morning, I ran 2.75 miles in the neighborhhod, then five sets of .15-mile sprints with some cooldowns in between. It was warm with a high dewpoint, and my legs burned. The sprints help so much, though ... they're a must if you want to drop your times. The kids and I played a little tennis later in the day. I planned to run this morning, but the dinner-movie thing knocked me out. So I resolved to run after work.

Boy, was it nice today. No humidity with a high of 80. As the sun started to drop, I headed to Belle Meade Blvd. to run a seven miler. Using some side streets, I ran the mostly flat course in 1:04:04, or a 9:09/mile pace. I started slow because I was sore, but loosened up a bit after a mile or so and started running some sub-9:00 miles. In Saturday's heat, I thought my heart was going to pop out of my chest; today, I felt like I could adjust my speed at will with little to no stress. Only the last mile was somewhat challenging, but I kept the pace steady. Weekly mileage is at 11 after two days.

One footnote to the fundraising: Melissa Hudson-Gant with the local LLS chapter joined the TNT-ers Saturday morning. I asked if she would check to see how many folks are fund-raising for the Nike Women's Marathon to see where No. 18 really stands at this juncture. Melissa e-mailed me today to say we're No. 18 out of 5,000 folks. Wow, y'all ... That's an impressive ranking and start. Hats off again to you all.

I'm so happy for Dori. She deserves to hear good news upon good news. This July 4 will be a lot more fun than last year (real fireworks, not chemo blasts). I'm grateful for this week's peace and our plans to have family fun.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Good Eats

On Thursday, sister Anne and I went to Marché Artisan Foods, a European-style cafe and marketplace in East Nashville. It's the sister restaurant of my favorite, Margot Cafe. The food, hefeweizen and service at Marché were superb (top four photos).

The food (lower two photos) at Mambu, where some co-workers and I ate Friday, was also good. Good fuel can be good-tasting.

Heat and Hills

This morning's run with the TNT-ers was tough, but good. I ran with the full marathoners, all of them younger than me. I think I'm the only one in his 40s; most of these limber folks are in their late 20s and early 30s.

We started at Titans Stadium, ran across the Gateway Bridge and then up Broadway. It was sunny and very warm, with a brisk wind in our face that felt good. Our pace the first two miles was sub-9:00/mile. I wore my Garmin HR band around my chest and noticed my HR hit the high 160s as we ran up some downtown hills. I knew the pace was going to be challenging for the six miles we were running because of the elevation change (total ascent was nearly 1,400 feet), heat (no clouds) and humidity.

I managed to hang with the young bucks for four miles. After that, it was hold on and finish. Out of eight of us, I finished the 6.1 miles sixth in 57:31. Pace was 9:25/mile, max HR was 177, average HR was 150 and total calories burned was 1,007. Total mileage this week: 20.3, many of them tough. Total training mileage: 80 plus.

Several of us went to breakfast afterwards in Hillsboro Village for some oatmeal and other goodies. A few asked me about my fund-raising approach. Yesterday, we received an update, and Team Brown is off to a good start - No. 1 in Tennessee with $5,250 raised and No. 18 nationally for the Nike Women's Marathon, which is really the LLS's Super Bowl fund-raiser. I shared some tips with my TNT friends, emphasizing how this effort is about our friends' and family's generosity. I truly believe that. I mentioned how generous one company, CCA, and our friends Tony and Mary Belle Grande have been. I talked about generous giving plans underway at my organization. Part of my response to people asking about Dori is to let them know in a low-key way about my run and also encourage them to sign up on the NMDP Registry. If you don't tell them, they won't know.

Just like my fellow TNT-ers are doing, I shared how individuals feel connected to this cause through a loved one, like our group does with Dori and her courage. So many of our friends have the same life approach that we do - Life is now. You can't take it all with you. Many people have survived through similar efforts and families have benefited. It's easy math for good people: How do you not give?

Sure there are reasons not to give, some good. "I get asked too much." "I wish I could help, but now's not a good time." "Our budget is shot." "The economy isn't great." But just like our son did this week by shooting for the moon and thinking big (more on that in a second), you have to believe wholeheartedly in what you're doing, ask for support and not be anxious about it. Organization and follow-ups also help ... The effort, done right, takes time and consistent effort.

So Will wants to be Vanderbilt's bat boy. We're not sure he'll get it, but a few weeks ago he designed an impressive card with reasons why he's a good fit. He gave the note this week to Coach Corbin at VU baseball camp. Coach told Will he'd like to discuss it with me. Watching him through the whole process makes us feel proud of who he is. A real good kid.

Please say prayers for Dori this weekend. Her monthly check-up is Monday, and she's a bit anxious about it. She's nearly nine months post transplant and every check-up is something you want to check off. Speaking of Chekovs, guess who's going to be best man when Mr. Sulu says his now-legal nuptials in California.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Night Flashbacks

Welcome back to Friday Night Flashbacks.

"Inside this room, all of my dreams become realities and some of my realities become dreams." I love Gene Wilder and Willy Wonka. Enjoy.

Yes, they had videos in the 60s. Here's one of the best. Hippy-hippy-groove-shake. Start walkin'!

One more for the road ... no embedding allowed so here's the link to Kajagoogoo's "Too Shy". When I first heard this song, I thought the lead singer was a gal. I wasn't far off.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Eraser, Please

This morning's run was a clunker. After two recent decent runs, I couldn't find it. The tank was dry, and I woke up too early. According to my Garmin, which continued to remind me how poorly I was doing, I ran 4.88 miles in 48:48, an Olympic pace of 10:00/mile. Truth be told, it took some effort to get that done.

The plan is to get some rest and nutrition, cross-train tomorrow and get back at it Saturday morning. As they say as you exit The Price is Right stage, "Thanks for playing."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Reasons to Run

There are so many reasons to train for a half marathon for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Here are few more. One is about Charlotte, a beautiful little girl in Nashville and her family's battle against leukemia; another details an Alabama baseball coach's battle with blood cancer; and the last is a menu of all-out efforts in North Carolina in honor of Samantha, a young girl who has survived her seven-year battle. Hyperlinks are being hyper today so you get the actual links:

I ran yesterday with Coach Heather after work. I felt like a slacker for not rolling out of bed all chipper yesterday morning, but the body said, "Not now." My mind said "yes" when I received Heather's e-mail to join her for a late run.

We ran 3.4 miles on Belmont Blvd. Heather went fast from the start to the point where carrying a conversation wasn't easy. That didn't stop our chatter. I finally found a rhythm after 1.5 miles. It was 88 degrees, but I felt better as the run went along and finished well. Pace was 8:30 or so for most of the run, faster at the end.

I'm eying another crack at the Firecracker 5K on July 4. Last year's time was just over 24 minutes. The last five minutes were painful. It will be good to go at it again and see where things stand.

I talked with several fund-raising donors yesterday who said they were happy to help the cause. One told me he lost a relative to blood cancer. It's everywhere you turn, it seems, these days. Two people told me this week they believe our family is an instrument of God ... that this was His plan ... that we are showing what peace and love mean to folks who need it. Quite a few folks shared that prediction when Dori was diagnosed.

The funny thing is ... It's turned out to be true. We receive comments from people - close friends and people we don't know as well - who say things like, "I draw great strength from Dori," "We've really had things put in perspective," or "I re-evaluate often after what you all have been through."

Is this a reason why diseases exist? Life isn't supposed to be easy or fair, contrary to what some people think. The "Why me?" or "It's not fair" argument is the easy fallback position. As I've said before, I wholeheartedly believe this journey (now and always) is a test, God's looking us in the eye, and saying, "What are you going to do?" Carpe diem.

Monday, June 23, 2008

It Never Fails

So hopefully no one got in trouble watching the Samantha Sang video at work today. Funny, yet slightly disturbing pop culture. That'll be a recurring theme of Friday Night Flashbacks, so be forewarned.

I'll start with a running update. I finished last week with 5.3 miles on Saturday with the TNT gang. I ran with the full marathon group, led by their coach, Mark. We took it easy, stopping for water once. I ran the last group mile briskly, then ran a cool down mile around Centennial Park. Total time: 51:54. Total mileage for the week: 22.6. Total training miles to date: 60.

On Sunday, I did a few sit-ups and curls after hitting golf balls with Will. The boy can putt. This morning's Marine-like wake-up alarm at 4:25 was harsh, but after some fluids, a Clif bar and a half mile of running I was OK. The temp was 64, humidity 87%. Not bad at all. I'm dealing with my first injury, a stone bruise or something related on my left foot. It's minor pain that oddly goes away after a few minutes of running.

I ran the same 5.92-mile course I ran last week, but in reverse. The first two miles are mostly downhill; except for the early discomfort, I felt great. Ascending hills without losing rhythm has improved, and so did my time - 56:30, or a 9:32 pace. The run was fairly stress free until the end, when I needed some carbs.

After the run, I took Pepper for a 1/4-mile walk and then stretched. Breakfast was the norm - a banana, bagel with raspberry jam, juice and coffee. Usually, no one in our quiet house is up until 6 (either Kathryn or Dori), and today was no different. I so enjoy having 90 minutes, some of it albeit groggy, to myself. It's a great way to start the day - feeling good after a run and eating well. Your mind says, "All clear!"

Dori and I had planned to join our friends, Runcie and Donna, Saturday for dinner and a movie. We had to reschedule, but Dori and I kept our dinner date. I mentioned to Dori I had never wished time to speed forward, until very recently. Dori said she's thought the exact same thing. Yes, it would be nice to be in the middle of the summer of 2010, knowing Dori had the "all clear" from the docs at VUMC. Somewhere, in the corner of mind, I knew we were wrong.

At church the next morning, Father Kibby talked about the gospel, which dealt with being at peace through fear - always. But is wishing time to speed ahead, like Dori and I did, causing us not to cherish every moment? No, not really, but is it trusting Him completely with our lives? Probably not. It made me rethink our wish. It made me feel small. Reminder received: Every day is a gift, so live it.

It almost never fails - When I truly listen to the gospel and homily, God is speaking. The conduit (scripture, a priest or a deacon) is irrelevant. It's Him.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Night Flashbacks

It's time to liven up this blog and take a break from the serious stuff.

Dori likes it, so we'll go with it - Every Friday night, we'll take a trip back in time and post some nostalgia. Welcome to our weekly feature - Friday Night Flashbacks!

We'll start with one of my very favorite MTV videos, Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears.

Here's one from Dori - Emotion by Samantha Sang with easily recognizable Bee Gees back-up. Beware of double vision.

You might want to grab some coconuts and coronas for this one - Love Plus One from Haircut 100. Unfortunately, there are restrictions on embedding it, so click here. Yes, lead singer Nick Heyward likes the camera very much.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


A friend at work, Valerie, is keeping me posted on her friend, Melody Alexander, who is battling blood cancer at Vanderbilt right now. Melody was in ICU last week, but was able to get back to 11 North. She's progressing slowly each day, a theme familiar to Dori and me. Melody has a CaringBridge site if you want to follow her progress.

Melody's situation had Dori and me talking last night before shut-eye. We recalled a lot of the "dark days" from October during her bone marrow transplant. Dori said she recalls how her mind felt detached from her body for a a few days, when the pain and anxiety were high. I recalled the morning head nurse Blanche told me as I arrived "not to be worried" but that "Dori had had a fall." Dori, as you may recall, passed out in the shower and slammed to the hard floor. Her hip and backside were severely bruised, marks that have healed but that she still carries today. She's very lucky she didn't crack open her head.

Dori's reaction, and she knows this, really had an impact on me. Rather than tell anyone when she regained consciousness, she crawled back into bed and mentioned the episode later. I don't have words for what I felt. The only thing I knew to do was to figure out how I would ensure that never happened again. Thanks to our watch team (me, her Dad, Mom, Anne, and friends Liz, Dudley and Jan), it never did. We posted watch 24/7. Dori was so drugged, I don't think she knew we were there half the time.

I have very good news on the fundraising front for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. A good friend sent a $1,000 check this week from his company. Our actual total is above the $4,100 listed today on the Web site ... it's just shy of $5,500. I'm also working on some efforts at my employer, and some friends there are doing the same. We may have even more great news soon. Also, some special relatives in New York - Aunt Renee, Uncle Bob, and Cousins Laura and Stacy - have put out jars in various establishments to raise money for LLS in honor of Dori. One jar is already full. If all this comes through, we may be in five figures soon.

We are so grateful for all of this generosity and initiative. It all connects, too. Today, I received an e-mail from the LLS about a family that never had asked for anything, but the husband's treatments put them in a deep financial hole. The LLS has a program to help in situations like these, which they utilized. You're helping folks this way and in many others (research, education, comforting, linking patients, etc.).

Tonight, I headed to Radnor Lake for a run. At a stop sign, I saw a young woman wearing a blue mask, just like Dori used to wear. I dedicated my run tonight to this woman I don't know. I ran 5.0 hilly miles (total ascent 1,400 feet) in 46:05, a 9:13/mile pace. It was warm (82) but humidity (31%) and dew point (51 degrees) were low.

Yesterday morning, I ran 3.0 easy miles at a 9:45/mile pace. It was 58 degrees, almost chilly! Mighty Pepper was with me, so we stopped twice - once so he could do his business and once to sniff a young black labrador puppy. So pace was more like 9:35.

This week's mileage is 17.3 with a four miler scheduled with the TNT Team Saturday morning. I need to see these intermediate mileage times drop soon to the 9:00/mile range. It will happen. I'm finishing runs much faster than I start.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Food For All

For our family, it's all about the food.

Mom the Retired Caterer (she'll be inducted into that Hall of Fame once the one-year time statute elapses) treated us to a typically stellar dinner Saturday. We enjoyed gourmet burgers with a garlic green chile relish that was oustanding, as well as a barbecued chicken my sister Anne blogged about recently. We also slammed black beans and a tasty apple cole slaw I can't describe well enough to give justice.

Yesterday at sister Anne's, we assembled around noon with my Dad and stepmother Peggy to honor the dads. Anne's hubby Stephen had put together a slide show album of family photos that played on the TV to music my Dad enjoys. Nice touch.

The food, pictured above, was excellent. Anne's fantastic fresh dill potato salad essentially made yesterday's jog at Radnor Lake "heavy." Just couldn't help myself. The fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil with EVO also was great, as was the pork tenderloin sandwiches with honey mustard glaze. Dori made a wickedly good fruit salad that went along well with a shrimp salad on bibb lettuce. Peggy's fruit tea and desserts, brownies and key lime pie, rounded out the classic fare.

Dori, not to be outdone, made my favorite Asian tenderloin for dinner (I went easy on the sandwiches at lunch knowing a pork tenderloin was thawing in our fridge). Her crunchy black bean and corn salad with cucumbers and cilantro was her best I've ever had. We ate leftover fruit salad (no complaints whatsoever) and a little ice cream for dessert.

When I met Dori, she wasn't what you'd call comfortable in a kitchen. She never ruined a frozen dinner, but she wasn't at ease over a stove. Then she goes and marries a young man who's been enjoying gourmet food by two chicks who can flat out cook. Fast forward from the early 90s, and the girl I love can serve up serious meals. Tonight's simple red beans and rice, something all of us enjoy, is another good example of how the healthy Browns like to eat. She takes pride in cooking for us, and I'm grateful for it. Sorry McDonald's, you're going to have to pick on another American family.

So I have, compliments of Dori for Father's Day, a new Garmin 305 GPS watch with a heart rate monitor. We're talking "toy for grown-ups." I'm still learning how to use it, but I tested it yesterday on a 3 p.m. run, belly still swimming with dill and potatoes. I downloaded the results (Garmin, not my belly's), and learned my heart rate maxed at 174 bpm as I ran the last mile at an 8:00/mile pace. The Garmin doesn't work great under the Radnor trees, but well enough to give you essentially whatever information you request. I'm expecting it will be more accurate on other runs I enjoy.

I rested today. Yesterday's run was just under 3.5 miles. Tomorrow morning is a six-miler before we get a wonderful cold front later in the day. This week's weather looks phenomenal for June. Can we fast forward to late September soon?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wanna Be Inspired or Comforted?

First off, Happy Father's Day, everyone. I hope you get to hug your Dad, tell him you love him, or remember him in a special way.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has a life mosaic on their site. Check it out. Here are a few of many inspirational stories: Allen, a 69-year-old BMT survivor, Meaghan, a 32-year-old Louisiana woman who survived lymphoma and is now running half marathons and raising money for LLS, Gustavo, a fighter in every sense, and Leanne, a mom of two who is reaping rewards after getting through a difficult time.

More reasons to run ... don't you think?

Dori has a prayer, "Be at Peace," that she has posted next to our computer. For those fighting blood cancer or anyone facing turmoil, it is comforting and strengthening.

"Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life;
Rather look to them with full hope that as they arise,
God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things;
And when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His arms.
Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;
The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you today and every day.
He will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations."

St. Francis de Sales

Saturday, June 14, 2008

One Year Ago Tomorrow and An American Hero

June 15 is the one-year anniversary of Dori's check-in to the Vanderbilt emergency room. Understandably, it's been on her mind a lot this week (mine, too). She's been emotional the last few days, and who can blame her?

The only thing I can distinctly remember from that day is the feeling "this isn't good," as well as some crazy guy dressed up as a woman in the emergency room. Thankfully, he wasn't staff. Dori remembers he/she kept calling someone on his cell phone and loudly asking that person "to bring him a Snickers!" Three days later, Dr. Greer told Dori she had AML. Life as we knew it was forever changed.

This morning, I joined the Team in Training crew at Fleet Feet in Brentwood. I don't know many folks yet, but met a few at 7 a.m. I ran some with Coach Heather (she's heading up the Half Marathoners for San Francisco) and some with Coach Tilghman (she's heading up the Full Marathoners). The Head Coach, Stephne, is very encouraging. All three are great.

Running the first two miles with Heather went by quickly. She talked about her Mom's bout with stomach cancer and then her Mom's multiple myeloma. I shared how we approached AML and how I had to change my approach with Dori. I believe the smartest thing I did last year was to let Dori work through this on her own and resist the urge to cheerlead. I promised Dori from the outset I would encourage her to sort through things and I would be with her every step of the way. When she cried, which was often, I said, "You have every right to feel that way. Let it out." When she was angry, which wasn't often, I said, "I can certainly understand that feeling." ... Her terms, not mine. Cancer, which I despise, made me a better husband. I listen more, talk less.

I caught up with Tilghman, who I hadn't met until today, at 3 1/2 miles. She had a nice 8:45/mile pace going, so we paired up. Tilghman told me how running has changed her life (health, not wasting time in bars, burning off the negative energy while keeping the positive). That sounds like reasons many of us run. Thankfully, Tilghman has not had to deal with blood cancer in her life in some way. All three coaches mentioned I should consider teaming up with Tilghman's group to run the full on October 19. That's not very likely, though I think I'll train with them some. I promised I'd run like a 16-miler at some point just to venture into new territory.

Total mileage this week, including a four miler yesterday and today's 5 1/2 miler: 18 miles. Total training miles after two weeks: 38 miles. Today's run was nice: rainy and cool, with heavy humidity. I bought some new shoes this morning at Fleet Feet, which should help some developing soreness.

So where do I begin about Tim Russert's death? I was in journalism for several years and still deal with the media. I appreciate the art of his craft. I think the folks you've heard on TV the last day are correct: Tim Russert was the very best in his field. I believe it's because he was a man of liberal politics, but you'd never know it. His political beliefs were never the issue; yours were. He believed in love and compassion, but never entitlement. Hard work and truth defined him.

In his interviewing, he was fair, yes, but his focus was to address inconsistencies or ambiguous information. He never screamed or hollered like some of these cable characters; he asked firm questions and knew how to sound the BS siren. Woe be unto the politician who showed up with horse manure.

You will be missed, Tim Russert. Thank you for your shining example.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cord Blood Donor

One of the blessings of this whole experience is witnessing the good in people on a regular basis.

Case in point is my friend, Paige, who's expecting in September. We're very excited for her and her husband, Chris. Today, she e-mailed me that she's looking into donating her baby's cord blood. An excerpt from Paige's e-mail explains her experience best:

"My doctor, the nurse at the hospital, the health reporter on a recent Today Show segment, and the OBs quoted in a recent "this week in your pregnancy" email I received ALL concur that donation (still very rare and only offered at only six U.S. hospitals) and a robust public cord blood bank not only would help leukemia patients, but also in the future, possibly heart attack survivors and others. Yet, the federal funding isn't there yet to really make this happen, I'm told.

For now, I'm looking into a free service that will work with my doctor to enable me to donate if possible, but I tell you: It's kind of hard to find (except, thank you NMDP), and the for-profit cord blood banks are marketing like crazy to pregnant women. ... We must fight the good fight!"

Paige is very inspiring. So is cord blood tranplantee PJ in Rhode Island. Check out her recent posts. PJ's writing has been important to Dori (and me, too).

After vacation, I had to head out the next morning for a four-day business trip to Washington. I know, I know ... The beach to D.C. is a harsh transition, but the trip was productive. I didn't call my good friends like Dan and Dave before I flew up because I saw my schedule (no window for any real breaks - we were covered from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. every day). While inside the Beltway, I noshed with contract work friends like Summer, Laura, Rex and others that I don't get to see as often as regular work friends.

I ran Sunday afternoon when the heat index was 105. All was fine the first mile, but the last 2 1/4 miles were what you'd expect. Hot as that place we're all trying to avoid. I did sit-ups and push-ups the next two days, then ran with friend Darren at 5 a.m. We went down to the Mall, circled the Capitol, went back down the Mall and around the Washington Monument, then back to the hotel. Total was 5 1/4 miles. Tomorrow morning is run three for the week, then a TNT four miler on Saturday morning.

Speaking of TNT, we are off to a great fundraising start. You all are INCREDIBLE. Including checks in the mail, we're over $4,000 after two weeks. The Leukemia folks put out updates ... Our effort is No. 1 in Tennessee to date for all the folks fundraising for fall races. Give yourselves a yabba dabba doo. If you haven't given yet, please consider giving generously so you can join us Flintstones. If you need motivation before giving, just read PJ's blog entry about what the LLS means to her.

Here's the group goals and results to date for TN participants:

Music City & Nations Triathlon $39,100.00 $5,696.77
Nike Women's Marathon $108,117.00 $18,964.20
Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio $103,166.00 $4,600.00
El Tour de Tucson $64,100.00 $975.00

TN goal total: $314,483.00
TN to date: $30,235.97

Let's keep moving!

More Beach Photos

Among the joy of viewing the happy "baby nudists" was mild concern that enough sunscreen had been applied. Hope you've enjoyed the pics.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Vacationing Cancer Survivors

So you thought I'd left for good, eh? Nahhh ... There's still too much to talk about. Like Dori and her sister, Kathy, having a wonderful time at the beach the last week. Both are cancer survivors. We're prayerful it stays that way.

Last week, Dori, the kids and I headed to Edisto Island, S.C. It's really a throwback beach - no fast food, no stop lights, no under 25 groups allowed. It's just families hanging out at the beach. The island isn't very long; the developed part is three miles. But it is beautiful, stunning in its tranquility and simplicity. It's Hilton Head Island pretty without the exorbitant prices, overdevelopment and traffic. The spanish moss on giant oaks is soothing. It's Pawley's Island pretty before too many people discovered it. The beaches are perfect playgrounds for little ones. I bought a hat that says "Edislow."

The first four days, the kids played and I fished in the surf while Dori watched from under her beach umbrella. Every 30 minutes, she would smile and wave, then get back to her reading of the day. We collected shells and explored the island more (we were here two years ago with some from my side of the family). We relaxed and had family time. I recalled something Kathryn said last summer on a trip home from the hospital. She vented, "My whole summer's been ruined and I don't even get to go to the beach!" I said, "Kathryn, I promise, when Mommy gets better, we will go to the beach. You hang in there for Mom." Goal set, goal met.

The fearless four also ventured one hour to Charleston, one of my favorite places. It's the Newport, Rhode Island, of the south. The Market in the heart of this vibrant city is a must-visit. It has an endless array of handwoven sweetgrass baskets, tablecloths, local foods and books, and other mementos and trinkets. Dori and I gnoshed on Charleston BLTs (substitute lightly breaded green tomatoes) and other goodies. I showed the crew some landmarks and stunning homes before we called it a day, seeking reprieve from the sweltering heat.

On Wednesday, we were joined by Dori's sister, Kathy, her young daughter, Claire, and Dori's Mom, Happy. They immediately meshed and chilled with us, like they'd been with us the first four days. While I fished and caught an occasional small sand shark, I glanced back occasionally at the girls to see them enjoying each other's company. The conversation looked lighthearted. Lord knows the three could have talked serious - about Kathy's successful bout with breast cancer or Dori's successful bone marrow transplant. Some quick hits: I noticed Dori's bruises seemed to fade more during the week. She even stayed up until 9 a few times to watch TV with us before bed. And the girl ate.

Will and I hit some golf balls the last few days. It wasn't my only physical activity (get your minds out of the gutter). I ran four times, shifting to training mode. Inspired by so much, I finished four hot runs of 4.5, 5.0, 3.0 and 7.5 miles. The three longest runs were at dawn. On the longest run, I ran the whole island in mushy humidity. Thankful for every ocean breeze I got, I finished happily in a dripping mess. Twenty miles on vacation - Not bad!

On Friday, Dori and I had a breakfast date at the Seacow Eatery. My pancakes were awesome, and so was the company. Dori and I hopped online to check some email and to get a fundraising update. We were stunned by the great start, reading heartfelt comments from PJ, Kevin Gaffney and many others. Many were motivating and funny. Who is Anonymous? That's a good question. Whoever you are, Mr. or Ms. Secret ... Thank you for the generosity.

And so we're home, safe and sound. I'll post more photos later, probably next week.

P.S. Here's a link to some recent news about AML research. Wanna know where some of your generosity goes? This is one very good example.