Sunday, February 12, 2012

Full Days

Family life continues to be fast-paced, probably a very good thing. We're being productive, which is also very good.

On Thursday, 35 friends and family members convened at Gilda's Club Nashville to hear about tremendous cancer research progress. Mark Neidig, executive director with the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation, announced the new Gen V machine that can treat humans has been delivered to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He also noted that hospital has proven the Kanzius treatment gets into the nucleus of the cancer cell and destroys it. I encourage you to keep KCRF and Gilda's Club Nashville, linked to your left, in your 2012 giving plans.

Yesterday morning, at the request of my friend Jim Asker, I delivered the mission moment to about 50 Team in Training members. Jim is a lymphoma survivor and one of my best running buddies. At the gathering, I saw Shelley, a young woman who was our nanny one summer when the kids were very young. Her mother has been diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma. At the Thursday event, I saw my friend Donna, whose mother is battling breast cancer. Every way I turn ... I swear.

I stayed with the TNT group yesterday and ran 8.5 miles in cold weather, capping off an 18-mile week. I ran easy until the last mile. It was nice to crack the whip and have some giddyup. It's time to get serious about increasing mileage if I'm going to run a half marathon or two this spring.

On the news front, The Dori Brown Discovery Grant has been awarded to Dr. Scott Hiebert, who will be using the funds to conduct blood cancer research at Vanderbilt. I am so grateful to my friends Tony and Mary Belle Grande for spearheading that effort. Another grant is likely later this year.

Eight days ago, we spent a very special evening with Vanderbilt Baseball Coach Tim Corbin, his wife Maggie and daughter Molly. We were guests at their table for their annual baseball banquet, during which coach looked back on last year and introduced team members for the current year. Before he did that, Coach talked about Dori and our family in front of 500 fans.

Tim honored my wife by talking about her courage, determination and focus, reading an email I sent to him a few days before she died. An exhausted Dori wouldn't go to sleep until Will and I returned home from an important game to ask if Vandy had won. After I said yes, she fell asleep immediately. Then he talked about our journey with the team, from the evening of the June 10 game, only hours after her funeral, to meeting the team bus at 6 a.m. to wish the team well on its trip to Omaha, to being with the team for nine days in Nebraska. What an honor to be with the Corbins and his baseball family.

I'll answer two questions I hear every day: "How are the kids" and "How are YOU?" Kathryn and Will seem to be doing as well as can be expected. Their grades remain excellent and basketball season is wrapping up. Kathryn's team is 11-6; Will's team is quite good, 8-2, and improving every week. Will is about to start lacrosse and Kathryn will play volleyball again. Will has set his sights on hockey later this year. Will has been chosen to represent his school in a math contest and Kathryn's singing continues to impress. Like I said, pedal not brakes.

Emotionally, the kids are handling things very differently, which one would expect (different sexes and ages). I am proud of both of them for doing their best and continuing to learn how to cope with such a terrible situation. It's been eight months, and it's going to take a lot more time.

I guess I should say the same about myself. Some moments are very difficult. I miss her more, it seems, with every passing day. Some friends have suggested I take off a few days, without the kids, to have some Jim time. I know they're trying to be nice, but the kids are the biggest thing keeping me going right now. I wouldn't leave them right now for any reason. I'm trying to establish a beachhead, move inland a few miles and get reinforcements. Ever see the movie "Saving Private Ryan?" Speaking of war, I think my friend PJ mentioned the book Unbroken on her blog a few months ago. The book is a classic story of willpower, forgiveness and peace, perhaps the best I've ever read.

Those are the things I hold closely these days. That and the memory of the best woman I ever knew.


PJ said...

You sound good, Jim. So do your kids. Of course good is relative for you and your family, but it's important to recognize progress. I like the "Jim" idea. You can no doubt use a short break.

Ann said...

Jim, you know what's right for you. Trust your gut and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Having said that, I hope you'll also find some time for yourself in the midst of the chaos that is life.