Saturday, December 19, 2015


When you embark on the goal of running a marathon, the much discussed and often feared phenomenon that you train hard to avoid is “Hitting the Wall”. For any runner that has come face to face with this said “wall”, his or her experience is all somewhat different but inevitably it is the same.  Basically the body has exerted all the energy stores it has and as a result the body shuts down and must go into survival mode.  Fatigue, dehydration, muscle weakness, dizziness and mental exhaustion, are all indications that a runner may be heading directly into the wall.  In many instances this occurs when the race is nearly finished, and the runner only has a few miles left to run.  However, the wall is an unpredictable beast and getting past it requires everything you’ve got, and then some.

John has completed 33 rounds of radiation treatment, and he just finished his 3rd cycle of chemotherapy.  There was a slight delay with his chemo treatment because John’s white blood cell count a couple of weeks ago were too low to continue.  His body has been through the ringer and with the side effects of his treatment and the various drugs and medications taking their toll, hitting that proverbial “wall” has been unavoidable.  It has been hard to watch John’s strength whither away as he fights to beat this awful disease.  The body can sometimes fail you when you need it the most, and even if it’s not happening to you, it’s a terrible thing to witness. I know John is frustrated with his body’s betrayal and it does not seem fair that his once fit and sturdy frame is now weak and fragile. However, John continues to fight; he may not be able to eat much these days and in the past week has struggled to stay upright for long periods of time, but he is fighting through it and doing his best.  Over the last month many of you have cooked us meals, baked treats, made homemade juice, soup and sauces or mailed gift cards and money, all in the effort of helping out John and our family.  We have been extremely touched and overwhelmed by this generosity and display of love and care for us.  Support is a wonderful thing; it is the brace that holds you up when you cannot stand on your own; John’s support network is large and strong!

Maintaining a positive outlook has not been easy, but John knows that the strength to keep looking ahead and moving forward is the only control he really has if he intends to get past “this wall” and finish.  John has never given up in a race, even when he has felt that “wall” closing in on him, he has kept his head up and continued to put one foot in front of the other.  In 2011 John ran in the Napa Valley Marathon, in the last few miles of the course John “hit the wall”.  It was his first experience where his body was failing him and he didn’t think he had anything left in the tank to finish the race.  He began walking hunched over trying to maintain focus when out of nowhere a stranger began to yell at him with great conviction, “Stand up!” “Keep going, you’re almost there!” “You’ve come this far!” “Keep going!” 

Yes!  We are almost there…one more round of chemo and then John can finally cross that finish line knowing that regardless of the challenges he has faced in this race, he has never given up!
                                              Goodbye to John's Radiation Mask!