Share the roadWritten by Jim Blue | | firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the third year of the race honoring Ryan, the FOXToledo anchorman, who succumbed to a brain tumor.
I knew Ryan because, following his surgery, he left the anchor desk and came to work for NBC 24 as a sales executive. He was always cheerful … always positive.
Ryan’s cancer returned.
He died on Jan. 9, 2006.
During that year’s first 8k, I finished with a mediocre time. The second year was no better. But this past year I’ve boosted my running schedule and spent time at the gym. I was inspired by my running partner, my wife Kay.
I have another reason for being here. Like Ryan, my dad died of brain cancer.
I can remember 18 years ago sitting with Dad, my sister and our stepmother in the neurosurgeon’s office. The diagnosis: glioblastoma multiforme — a malignant brain tumor. The only option was surgery followed by radiation and chemotherapy. Even with all of that, almost all patients with this kind of cancer don’t survive more than a year.
It was the beginning of a long race against a vicious killer.
One mile into the 8k now — I can’t believe the time. It’s the fastest I’ve run in many years. And I’m not even breathing too hard.
Almost every day we learn of another victory against cancer. With early detection, the odds of surviving breast cancer are 95 percent. Colon cancer: 62 percent. Prostate cancer: 99 percent.
But my Dad’s particular brain cancer kills almost everyone who contracts it. It’s the same kind of tumor afflicting Sen. Teddy Kennedy. Even with all of his resources, the Senator’s outlook is grim.
Halfway into the 8k, I’m beginning to feel the pace. At the north edge of Ottawa Park, Kay wants to pick up the speed. My legs say, “No.”
I grab a cup at a water station. I can’t swallow more than a teaspoonful. I spit out the rest. Running sometimes is not pretty.
No one has figured out what causes glioblastoma — not cell phones, not diet, not genetic predisposition. There is evidence a virus might be to blame, but no one is certain.
Kay has run on ahead. I’m slogging through the final miles. Down Douglas, across Bancroft and back to UT. Finally, I enter the Glass Bowl; the thick, green turf is a blessing.
I cross the finish line about four minutes faster than my previous finishes. Kay is waiting for me.
My father died almost exactly one year after he was diagnosed.
Every cancer patient — every family of a cancer patient — has a story to tell.
More and more often, the story has a happy ending. Even glioblastoma patients are surviving longer due to surgical advances.
But it’s still a long race for this cure. Thankfully, there are plenty of people willing to share the road.
Award-winning anchor and reporter Jim Blue may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.