|Jill and Dani with the entire TriLatta triathlon team. Jill is cross legged |
on the front left and Dani is in the white top in the front row.
“Group Therapy” – you think I’m joking – but it’s no joke. TNT is the most positive place I could have put myself on this lifelong frustrating journey in the blood cancer battle. You see, my cancer is not curable. At least not today anyway. How many times will I have to make it to the treatment finish line? I have been through chemo and remission once…. I’ve already been there, done that and now I’m starting the journey all over again in July as a patient in a clinical trial.
I will be relocating to Houston, TX in July for 2-3 months for a clinical trial at MD Anderson Cancer Center and you can bet on it that TNT will be my “group therapy” while I am there. Keep your fingers crossed that it works. I’m doing my best to keep physically & mentally healthy so I won’t have to venture in to the land of a Bone Marrow Transplant any time soon.
You should be proud to know that the money you raise through TNT helps fund research and trials, like the one I will be doing.
So on the eve of this event , whether it’s your 1st or your 11th TNT event like me; be proud and hold your head up high (ok, not for the swim part unless spotting) and know that you are making a difference in the lives of many!! You may not have had a personal connection to blood cancers when you started your training 4 months ago, but I’m sure that’s changed now.
It always amazes me to hear the stories people share when you reach out to do something good for others. You learn so much not only about yourself, but about how small the world is and how connected we all are. Cancer is not picky; no one escapes this life without knowing someone who has it or is personally affected by it.
People tell me they are amazed by my attitude towards life & my cancer - let me tell you I’ve got “TUDE” and I’m sure that’s what gets me through sometimes or maybe it’s my stubbornness, but I’m going to kick cancer’s butt as many times as it takes! No pity party here! Move on with life, live it, take chances, and make the most of it. Just LIVE and enjoy the little moments as well as the big ones. And all of you help make it possible for me to have this attitude.
I am proud to call all of you teammates & more importantly teammates in the battle against Blood Cancers. I wish I would be able to see all of your shiny/salty faces as you cross the finish line tomorrow, but I think it will be the other way around; you will probably be waiting for me. As my Georgia Team can attest, I am pretty pokey. But I will finish with a smile on my face and a hug for each and every one of you! You are all rockstars and heroes in my book!!
Tomorrow morning as you get up early, correction-very early, enjoy every minute of the day! Even when you think you can’t go any further and want to give up – don’t – you’ve trained for this – you’ll get to the finish line!!
Again, many thanks for the millions of us whose lives are touched by the struggle with cancer. Every stroke you swim, mile you ride & run or walk tomorrow is one mile closer to a cure!!!!
One final note – I would like to personally dedicate my event tomorrow to Dani, the Georgia Chapter’s Honored Hero. She joins us this weekend with her family to celebrate life. Dani is currently in treatment and I wish her a long and happy life filled with love, laughter, health and only good memories of her cancer journey. Yes, there can and will be good, if not great memories.
Now go out there and kick some TNT Butt!!! GO TEAM!!!! ~ Jill
Dani's email sent to the TNT Triathlon Team on August 25, 2010
After the first week of classes, I am trying to go back to regular life. After practically falling apart in my first class, and actually falling apart in my second class; I am beginning to realize that this year really happened. I guess I thought that I may wake up some day and Ashton Kutcher would be there with a megaphone and a trucker hat telling me I had been punked. Alas, I don’t think I will find Ashton in my bedroom any morning (damn) and this really did happen.
I drove home from class, wondering if I had any business trying to help anyone considering my own current state of hysteria. If a graduate level class and a simple assignment to state my fears can produce such emotional unrest perhaps I am only suited to cook dinner and knit blankets. I daydream about becoming a Stepford wife, with no emotions, then remember that they all had long, beautiful hair and quickly rejoin reality.
I am realizing there is no going back after cancer. It is now a part of who I am. It has changed the way I view the world and interact with people. I am no longer the same person I was, I am trying so hard to get back to who I was, to move on and away from this year, but perhaps I just cannot. Perhaps, I am a different person now and I simply have to pick up and move forward, discovering myself all over again.
I find myself getting angry; did I really spend a year kicking this thing physically just to turn around and have to process things emotionally? Can we just be done? I am sick of the word cancer, I am sick of cancer. I am angry that my family and the family of so many others have been put through hell. I am angry that I will forever live in fear that the cancer may come back in me or in someone I love. I am scared that there will never be a day that cancer does not touch for the rest of my life. I AM OVER CANCER.
Then I hear my beautiful daughter shrill from behind me and I am reminded, ever so quickly, what this is truly all about. I am one of the lucky ones who get to be sick of cancer. I am one of the lucky ones who have survived thus far. Each breath I take is a gift, each day I have is another victory.
So I have traded my combat boots for flip-flops and I move about the day, trying to navigate the best I can. I am reminded that I am no different from any other person on this planet; I do the best I can each day with the information and strength I have at the moment.
I guess, for all who are willing, I am welcoming you to join me on the journey back to life. The journey after a cancer free diagnosis but not quite free of cancer. The beauty of this process is that it is so cathartic for me; the fact that someone reads it is simply frosting. Writing this stuff out, processing through and then sending it out to the universe (or cyberspace) is the most healing thing I do. Thanks for loving us and praying for us! We love each of you! ~ Dani
I'll be getting my second bone marrow transplant on Tuesday, August 31. The good news is, my 100 days of seclusion while my immune system rebuilds will be over in December, in plenty of time for the next cycling season. 100 days, like 100 miles, will go by one at a time, except for those parts where I'm totally in a daze and don't even realize how far I've gone. I think you know you're a cyclist when the last 20 miles get to be the bittersweet conclusion of months of preparation with the team instead of "Oh my god I'm not sure I can go 20 more miles..."
I'm not usually one to make a fuss, but if you want to follow my progress, look me up on http://www.caringbridge.com/. Where it says "Visit a website," enter my name, lsilloway.
To those who are riding this weekend's Century, may the wind be at your back, the gravel off the road, the dogs behind their fences, and the Gatorade cool and sweet like southern iced tea at a fine BBQ joint with red plaid plastic tablecloths. ~ Lyndon