Friday, February 22, 2008

Run, Rhonda, Run

This is not about me -- it's about us. Those of us in the Leukemia/Lymphoma club.

My friend Rhonda's been clear of her AML Leukemia for over 60 months, and consequently she's made it her mission to serve others with Leukemia by raising money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. For Rhonda, I believe she's chosen the only challenge with enough challenge in it for her substantial will. Rhonda raises money by asking for pledges from friends, colleagues, and family and entering and running marathons. This spring she's running two. Rhonda also speaks about stem cell transplant to groups and physicians around the country and in general has become the poster girl for cord-blood transplant.

Quite simply, the trajectory of Rhonda's life has been altered in ways she never would have imagined by her battle with AML Leukemia. A battle which began on December 28, 2001. Rhonda's passage, enduring the rigors of chemotherapy and her decision to undergo the 38th double cord-blood transplant ever performed on an adult in the U.S., thrust her into the stratosphere of the treatment of diseases like we have. Decisions like this, to take your life to the limits of its tolerance, to the very limits of what defines life itself, are actually about that point when your body and mind are taken over by will. It's an unconscious, primal decision, not a pragmatic one. I believe survival is primal and choosing, as Rhonda did, to try an unknown and new treatment is as primal as decisions get. It's an emergence of a will we didn't even know we had.

Ultimately, its seen as bravery by the outside world: our
will to be, to continue to live, to try anything, to set aside the pain you know is waiting, to suspend belief and just do; to show up every day and deal with what is dealt from the disease, from our attitude, from the twists and turns in our blood and the physical changes wrought by the disease and its unique treatment methodology.

But this passage, the emotional challenges, the unknown outcomes, the pain, the pure monotony and grinding boredom -- of, first, survival, and later, recovery -- are not about bravery. It's about uncharted will, the humanity we all possess but only tap in times of the extreme convergence of hope and statistical improbability. It is then we rise on the swelling tide of our will to be more than we ever imagined we could or would be.

So, why this story?

Rhonda is running for me this year. It is my honor that she's chosen me to inspire her to train, engage in and finish these most grueling of personal/physical/emotional challenges. But that's who she is: fearless, willful, challenging herself to limits she never imagined she had, much less, would have to surpass. Quite the opposite of me being her hero and inspiration in these challenges, she's been my hero for the last 5 years, long before I could imagine I'd ever need the kind of will that could be seen by her or others as courageous.

So please take a moment to peruse her website by clicking here. I'd love it if you would consider contributing towards Rhonda's goal of raising $6,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Run, Rhonda, Run!


Friday, February 15, 2008

Rise, Phoenix, Rise!

After a two-month-long hiatus from the world of third-person blogging, I'm making a brief return. With any luck, the once-mighty A Healthy Goodwin will rise from the dustbin of discarded blogs and experience a revival. I can't promise that I'll be posting regularly (not that I was ever all that good about posting in a consistent fashion), but I'll make sure the most essential news makes it to the blog.

Here's what's new: after a relatively solid January, Father Goodwin took a few steps backwards. He was struck by a steep decline in white blood cells, which came with a equally steep decline in energy. There were a few scary days when they weren't really sure what was going on. But just this week, a bone-marrow biopsy revealed no signs of the things they don’t want to see -- namely disease or damaged platelets. To explain the extreme drop in white blood cells -- he was hovering around 0.45 for a few days -- they first suspected CMV (cyto-meglo virus). Now, however, they're hypothesizing that this may all be due to tapering his steroids too quickly. They are in the process of trying to "jump start" his adrenal system. While they work on finding the right sized jumper cables, my dad reports "extreme fatigue" rivaling the "shitty-ness" associated with chemo. Hopefully, with the right combo of horse steroids and 20+ hours of daily sleep, he'll be back (and blogging) shortly.

In the meantime, the Boys Goodwin are experimenting with a new, innovative ways to get news out to ArnieWatchers. Because he lacks the energy to type -- and I don't always have the time -- we're going to give "audio-blogging" a shot. It's actually way less hi-tech than it sounds. But don't just take my word for it. Head to and check out our latest creation.

Good stuff,