*October 23, 2020 Update* I finally was able to run my half marathon for Gemma! I finshed with a time of 1hr:51min:35sec and pace of 8'31" per mile. For no one else but Gem could I do this! If you have yet to donate, please consider doing so for this great cause (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society). Gemma kicked butt through chemo but needed further radiation treatment to stop the cancer's growth. She finished radiation at the end of September, also while completing her full time master's course load at UMiami and passing already 3/4 CPA exams - a literal legend:) LOVE YOU GEM!
"No one fights alone." This is the slogan our family and the whole UMiami football equipment team thought would best embody Gemma's journey as we move into 2020.
Gemma, the second oldest child in our family and closest to me in age being 15 months older than me, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that is fast growing and aggressive by nature. However, with proper, equally aggressive treatment, she should make a full recovery. Regardless, her fight is not going to be an easy one. She starts her second round of chemotherapy late December and will be going through 4 more strenuous cycles after that.
These past few years have showed our 7-person family just how special the time with each other is. With five kids in various chapters of life, the time together is priceless and never gets old. My favorite memories, hands down, come from our daily family dinners when we were all still living at home, just simply being with each other. If you have ever had the fortune of attending one of these dinners, you would know Gemma is an integral part for the instigation of conversation, debate, sarcasm, and, most importantly, laughter. As all seven of us are home for this Christmas season, we are reminded of how each one of us bring our different gifts and qualities to the family identity that has been evolving since the early days of us all unloading from my mom's minivan to double the number of any party we arrived at.
Gemma will be undergoing her chemotherapy treatments down at the University of Miami Hospital in Florida. As a second semester senior at UMiami, she will have the full support of her friends there. Our family will also be rotating down constantly to see her, so she will not be short of company. However, day to day, being so far away makes the 6 of us sometimes feel a little helpless while Gemma is going through this fight. So, if there is one thing I can do, it is run a few miles to raise money for a cause that is now so near to our hearts. It is funny how much easier running becomes when you have a purpose and meaning behind it. It is my way of spending time with Gemma every day even when I can't be there for her in person. So, while Gemma is kicking cancer's ass, I'll be racking up the miles to run a half marathon for a cause that has not only become personal for Gemma, but my whole family as well.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's mission is to "cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families" through advancing research and patient access in addition to working for policy and advocacy reform. This organization is truly incredible, and I saw its work firsthand during my nursing rotations twice a week on the liquid oncology floor at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in September and October.
Your support is greatly appreciated, even if it just means bringing awareness to the cause and supporting those fighting!
Love you Gem with every mile I have in me<3