Friday, November 20, 2009

King Loses Father to Cancer then Fights-and Swims, Bikes and Runs-to Help Find a Cure!

In 1989, when he was just 23 years old, Michael King got a call everyone dreads. His mother, living in Connecticut, called Michael in San Diego. "Your father has cancer. It's leukemia." Not knowing very much about the disease and without the help of the internet, Michael didn't know how serious it was until a co-worker asked him what stage of the disease his father was in. "Then I knew it was serious," Michael says "and it wasn't something that could just be fixed with medicine." For the next few months Michael and his family were by his father's side as he fought the disease. His dad was eventually treated in Seattle where he received a bone marrow transplant. "We had great hope. My dad had two perfect matches and we were confident he would be ok," Michael says.

But he wasn't. Within nine months of being diagnosed, Michael lost his dad to leukemia.

Eleven years later Michael got another call that would change his life. His younger brother—married with two young children—called to tell Michael that his wife, Sue, had been diagnosed with leukemia. Not just leukemia but the exact kind of leukemia his dad died of—Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. "I was stunned and shocked. I was so angry because this was happening again," Michael said. But this time it was different and it was something that could be fixed with medicine. Sue didn't have a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant but, luckily, only a few months earlier a drug was approved, Gleevec, to help CML patients. "Since then Sue has taken Gleevec -- a pill--everyday. She is doing great. At a recent family reunion I couldn't help but watch how full of energy she was. This pill has made a huge difference in our lives and saved Sue's life!"

Michael soon learned that Gleevec was developed with funding from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society—through money raised, in large part, from participants in Team In Training. Team In Training® (TNT) is a program that trains people to complete marathons, triathlons and cycle events. In exchange for raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, participants are provided coaching and the guidance needed to complete in the event of their choice.

For Michael, it was a way to give back. "I had heard about TNT and I knew it was something I needed to be a part of. One day down the road Sue may need a new drug to help her with her leukemia and I don't want anyone to lose a dad, like I did," Michael says.

Michael has now completed five triathlons with Team In Training and, along with his wife, has raised $23,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He was so inspired by the program he is now a triathlon coach; showing others how they can also make a difference.

"Once I became part of Team In Training, my life changed forever. My wife and I (who has also completed triathlons through TNT) have made friends that are like family to us. The fact that I can also DO something, rather than just donating to a cause, has been great. The feeling of crossing that finish line is something that can't be described—it's amazing," Michael says.

And, as he completes the triathlons, his dad and sister-in-law are in his thoughts during every stroke of his swim, pedal of the bike, and step of the run. And when he crosses that finish line, he is humbled for the difference he is making for those battling cancer.

View the video links below for FOX 5-TV coverage of Michael, his wife Nanci and the 2007 St. Anthony's Team In Training triathlon team:

Michael & Nanci


Ed Sanford, Honored Hero and teammate

Race weekend (St. Anthony's 2007)

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