Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Marathon Goal

Hello Friends and Family,

As many of you may already know, I am training to run the New York City, ING Marathon this coming November 4th.  Running has been a long time passion of mine and the New York Marathon has definitely been at the top of my bucket list.  When I was offered a spot to run the marathon for a national charity, First Descents, I quickly took advantage of the opportunity.  First Descents is an organization that is near and dear to Brandon and me.  First Descents is a high adventure camp that works exclusively with young adults (ages 18-35) who have faced the physical and emotional difficulties presented by cancer.  For one week young adult cancer survivors attend a camp and learn how to kayak, rock climb or surf.  All skill levels are welcome and encouraged to attend.  Most campers have never participated in these sports before!  These camps enable young adults to be physically and mentally challenged in a way they may not have been since their treatment.  With the help of qualified staff, these survivors get to see firsthand that they have the ability to conquer something scary and challenging--besides cancer! 

Brandon had the opportunity to attend a First Descents kayaking camp in Vail, Colorado last summer.  What a wonderful experience! Brandon has always loved the outdoors. Because of challenges he now has with his back, Brandon needs to be careful with the types of activities he's involved in. First Descents worked specifically with Brandon so he could experience the challenges of kayaking without the fear of hurting himself. Cancer can be totally demoralizing in ways most people have not personally experienced or even thought about. First Descents has revitalized Brandon in ways that no other program could have. Being around other young adult campers—who share similar cancer experiences—has enabled him to make connections with people who understand.  He still stays in contact with many people at his camp and is able to both give and receive support from his peers. 

The best part of First Descents is that it is completely FREE  for the camper.  The only aspect they are financially responsible for is the travel expense to their respective camp.  Food, lodging, supplies and activities are at no cost to the participant..  This is where I need your help.  In order to run the NY Marathon with the First Descents group, I have agreed to raise $3,000, with 100%  of the tax deductible donations going to First Descents.  These funds will enable 3 campers to attend a camp.  I would appreciate any donation you could make to help me reach my goal.  Brandon and I have been amazed at the kind of support and love we have received over the last four years.  We feel it’s important for us to try and give back and be involved with organizations who support and encourage people who are going through similar experiences as Brandon and I did. 

 To make a donation please click the link below and it will take you to my donation page.  If you know of anyone who you think would like to make a donation please forward this e-mail on to them.  Again, any amount helps.

 Thank you again for all your support throughout the years.  Brandon and I would not be where we are today without you.

 With much love,

 Katie Plewe

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thank you to everyone

I am sitting here with my tissues, finally going back and reading all of the posts from the beginning of this blog and this terrible disease and contemplating everything that I and my family have been through over the past 3 years.

There is no question whatsoever that this has been a roller coaster of an ordeal and that this disease is vicious and evil and leaves pain and destruction in its wake. I expected to go back and read all of the posts when things did not look so bright, and feel anger or frustration at why I was forced to go through these trials at such a young age, having only been married barely a year. A young man, at what some would say was at the prime of his life, ready to take on the world. I would expect to feel cheated, or at least short changed for what I had to go through and the permanent effects I have to live with everyday for the rest of my life, however long that may be. But these aren't the feelings I am feeling, as you may or may not have guessed. My thoughts turn to the state I was in, as I search for a way to explain what I am feeling.

Now that I am in remission and can call myself a cancer survivor, we have heard interesting accounts from my Oncologist talking about how the first Doctor in the hospital who saw me didn't think I was going to make it, along with a few of the nurses. How I was pretty much as bad as it gets, when they wheeled me into the bone marrow clinic that day; "a train wreck" was the description used by my Doctor that keeps sticking to my memory, and ironically was probably more accurate a description than anyone could have realized at the time. Now that my bones and spine have settled, I am sitting a comfortable 6 1/2 inches shorter than I was when I began this journey. As the cancer slowly ate away at my bones and I unknowingly continued my daily routine, seeing specialists and trying any off the wall exercise routine, I was just compounding the problem. With each movement, each attempt to bathe myself, each flight of stairs climbed, each slight bump in the road my car passed over, I was losing another fraction of an inch slowly but surely. With one vertebrae jamming its way into another vertebrae, my spine literally becoming a human train wreck being carried out in slow motion on the tracks of my skeleton.

As I think back on this scene as I mentioned earlier, my intuition wants to be angry and throw things and cry out that I have been wronged, I want to scream I don't and didn't deserve this (and nobody does for that matter). But I can' much as I want to, I just don't have it in me, and it is all clear when I look back, think about, and read over all the posts and responses and letters of support that I was given. I want to take all the credit for recovering and getting to where I am today, to write how amazing of a patient I was and how I looked cancer in the eye and wrestled it right out of me. After reading and thinking about what I went through and experiencing it for myself, I know that would be a lie to say that. I am sitting here today because of everyone else in my life who got me here. The community which came together in a way I have never seen before. There were people from all religions and faiths praying for me, fasting on my behalf and wishing me well. My dear sweet wife, and my wonderful family were there every single step of the way; by my bed, holding my hand, literally feeding me anything in Salt Lake which sounded good when I was to weak to do it myself. My own mother and my mother in law visited everyday and came to every test and became known as my "moms" to my medical staff. The doctors rallied and did everything humanly possible to provide me with the best care possible and not waste a day, hour, or minute doing it. The nurses and physician assistant's became friends I still keep in touch with, and friends we had not heard from in ages became our cheer leading squad. In essence, I just lied there, determined it was not my time to go, having received a spiritual confirmation that I would be around for years to come, while everyone else did the healing for me. It is true, I did not allow myself to give up hope, but I am here today because of all the love, kindness, and devotion that a whole community had to offer. I just wanted to thank you all for everything that was done on my behalf and let you know that we all did it in this case. God does live, and miracles do happen, and I was lucky enough to be a part of one. I could not have done it alone, and for that I will be forever indebted to each and everyone of you who played a part in my recovery. I have been relatively silent until now, but I want everyone to know that I am perfectly comfortable talking about and sharing my experience with anyone and everyone. I am confident that if I could get better that there is hope for anyone else out there. I would love to hear from you or talk to anyone you know who is going through similar trials; my door is always open and my phone is always on.

One more thing; as I celebrate my anniversary today, I would be very ungrateful if I didn't mention the secret to my silent strength. My wife has always been right by my side, literally sleeping right next to me every single night in those dreamy and extremely comfortable (the sarcasm is thick here) hospital beds. If you have every spent a night in a hospital you know easy it is to sleep (still thick) when the nurses are coming in a few times a night to check your vitals and give you a drug or two, and see how you are doing. If you know Katie, you will also know how much she cherishes her sleep (now I am being serious), and what a true sacrifice it must have been to continue sleeping there night after night, just so I was never alone. I love you Katie and I will never stop loving you, and I pray every day that you will know it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone for getting me where I am today. I could have never done it alone. Sometimes the greatest thing you can do for a friend in need, is just be there or say a prayer in their behalf, and that was unequivocally the case for me in my recovery.