The Team in Training Georgia Chapter asked me to write a guest blog post for them about my cancer experience and why I decided to join Team in Training. They posted the article here http://teamintrainingga.blogspot.com/
The full article is also republished below.
Surviving and Thriving by Dan Gennari
It was March 16, 2010, and I was panting like a German Shepherd on a hot July day, but I was standing straight up, at the top of a snow covered mountain in Colorado. Approximately 6 months before, I was seated in a big recliner, a clear tube running from an IV bag into my chest port and wondering if I would ever enjoy skiing the way I always had after 16 doses of bleomycin and other toxic chemo drugs had been pumped into my veins. I had followed my two friends off the top of the chairlift as they unclipped their skis and began hiking to the peak at around 13,000 feet. The climb took about 20 minutes but felt like hours to me. After pausing a few minutes to catch my breath and take a few pictures of the moment, we all clipped back into our bindings and plowed into the powder of the open bowl, and then the glade of trees. It was a liberating experience for me.
That was when I knew, or thought I knew that I could overcome the evils of cancer and continue to live a thriving life. I knew that despite the things I had lost and the pain I had suffered, Hodgkins Lymphoma was only a part of my life and that I still had unlimited potential to succeed in pursuing my dreams. I also knew then, that it was time I responded to one of those numerous purple brochures and postcards hitting my mailbox and trying to recruit me for Team In Training. That day on the mountain renewed my confidence in myself and my body and I was ready to take on the world. Before I would get that chance though, I would have to take on cancer once again.
After only an eight month break, scans revealed that my mediastinal mass was growing aggressively, and my doctor recommended beginning salvage treatment in preparation of a stem cell transplant. I was devastated that I would not get to train for the century ride, because I think I wanted it for myself, as much as I wanted to help the Society. I wanted to validate the feeling of health and recovery that I felt on the mountain in March. I had already started my fundraising, and decided I would go ride with the TNT team on their first cycling ride of the summer, even though I knew it would be my only ride with them.
Although my memory of that afternoon high in the Rockies is as vivid as if it happened yesterday, the summer that followed is a fuzzy patchwork of recollected moments and feelings. I was in and out of the hospital several times, and visited the clinic almost daily from June through August. I finally completed my stem cell transplant process in mid September and checked out of the hospital for the last time.
I got through my first 100 days post transplant with several colds and a brush with pneumonia, and I am starting to feel good again. I started to ride my bike at the tail end of December and joined the TNT Georgia Chapter once again and will be training for the America’s Most Beautiful Bicycle Ride in Lake Tahoe this June.
Throughout my 2 year cancer experience, I have received an incredible outpouring of goodwill from friends, colleagues, family, neighbors and even strangers. So, with the fundraising minimums of TNT looming, I am hesitant to once again ask for help from those who have already done so much for me. Instead, I have partnered with The Ski Channel, to premier their documentary, “The Story” in Alpharetta (an Atlanta suburb).
The film will be shown on February 17, at Studio Movie Grill and tickets cost $25.00 per person. The $25.00 ticket gets you admission to the movie, food and drinks, and benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If you or someone you know are interested in supporting my fundraising for the Society, please link to the ticket sales portal through my blog site,http://dev.dangennari.com/. If you cannot attend the film, it is also possible to make a direct TNT donation through that website link.
Dan Gennari is riding with TNT for the 2011 America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride at Lake Tahoe, NV this coming June. Dan, you inspire us and thank you for sharing your story! TNT’ers, please support “The Story” movie screening on February 17th.