The winner of the “Guess How Much My Cancer Treatment Cost” sweepstakes is…close your eyes for 30 seconds and imagine you can hear the dramatic music of a reality TV show…Joe Paybarah of San Francisco, California for his guess of $350,452.21. The actual invoices for 2010 added up to $355,368.14. I was very surprised to see one of the guesses come that close (only $4,915.93 difference) to the actual total, considering that the next closest guess was $490,000. As the winner of the contest, Joe will receive a full scholarship to pursue a new career in medical billing and coding, something that to this point in his life has only been a dream and a hobby.
Kevin Priger from right here in Atlanta takes the prize for winning both of the other two categories. The first was for offering up the closest guess to the single most expensive day of treatment, even though his guess of $35,000 was still a long way from the $96,652.60 billed on the day of my transplant. And he won again for his guess that hospital accepted actual payments of $330,000.00, when in reality they took approximately $122K off the bill to accept $233,149.08. Congratulations Kevin, let me know if you would like to join Joe as he goes off to study the fascinating world of medical bill coding.
Another thank you is owed to the NavigatingCancer.com website for awarding my blog with their Inspirational Cancer Blog Award. You can see my new badge displayed over on the right sidebar. Their site is a new service that looks like it could potentially be an alternative or…competitor…to my own CUREganizer project. Oh yes, that’s right…the CUREganizer is still alive. I am the first to admit that it is way behind schedule. In fact, I remember posting on this blog last winter with the proud news that the workbook would be launched sometime in March 2010. I may not operate with the efficiency of the Swiss rail system, but I am still plugging away at it. I now realize that my estimate of last March was really premature anyway. There was far more work left at that point than I realized, but I have made great strides. A logo has been finalized, and in January I hired a designer who is tasked with creating the layout of each page and prepping those files for print. He is currently about to begin work on the fourth and hopefully final revision of those pages.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about our little friend Jack Williamson, who is 9 years old and has extremely advanced and metastasized Neuroblastoma. He wants to go to SpaceCamp as part of his Mom’s Operation Dream to fulfull his biggest wishes, as she has been advised by their doctor to start making hospice plans for Jack. I was impressed with how Jack keeps his spirits up while facing the worst that the Dirty Bastard can dish out, so I created a little website to get his story out and try to raise the money they need to go to SpaceCamp. Readers of this blog joined dozens of other generous people and donated to the cause, or supported it by spreading his story through their own social networks. In a span of 48 hours, we raised $2,575.00 for Jack and his Mom. We got a chance to visit with them on Sunday and learned that the first date they had picked out for Jack came and went to quickly. The second opportunity was for this week, but they already had a conflict, because they are out of town fulfilling another of Jack’s dreams. But they are still working on selecting a few days in early April to get to Huntsville and go to SpaceCamp. Just today I received an amazing email from a complete stranger who has been working on our behalf to convince SpaceCamp managers to accept a lower fee in light of Jack’s situation. So, while they may not use all the money on SpaceCamp, I assure you those contributions will be used to fulfill other dreams. The dream being fulfilled this week is that Jack wanted to visit the worlds biggest toy store in New York City. That dream was made possible by Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson through the Hudson Family Foundation.
When we learned, with kind of short notice, on Sunday, that Jack was coming for a visit that afternoon, Angela wanted to do something special for him. So, she ran up to the local Johns Creek firehouse and explained the situation. Those guys dropped everything and said as long as Atlanta didn’t burn to the ground again that afternoon, they would be there for Jack. True to their word, Johns Creek ladder truck #63 pulled into our cul de sac promptly at 3:30 and Jack got the royal treatment from those firefighters. One of them had even just had his head shaved the weekend prior in a children’s cancer support event, so he took off his hat and showed Jack his head. It seems that every encounter we have with the guys from this fire station is better than the last.
It just so happened that two days later, I had the opportunity to meet the mayor of Johns Creek, and that is exactly what I told him. On Tuesday morning, I got on my bike and rode, with about 3,000 other bicyclists, from historic Roswell, all the way through the cities of Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, City of Atlanta neighborhoods Buckhead and Midtown, and right into downtown to the front steps of the capitol building. We were all there for an event called Georgia Rides to the Capitol. The point was to have a large showing of cyclists to encourage the approval of a bill that would require cars to give cyclists a 3 foot passing margin at all times. There were speeches from numerous metro Atlanta mayors, and finally Johns Creek mayor Mike Bodker had the job of introducing the governor to the podium. After all the speeches were done, I clomped up the Capitol steps in my funny looking bike shoes with the clunky clip-in brackets on the bottom, and clad in tight shorts and glow in the dark orange jersey, with my padded palm fingerless gloves still on my hands, I introduced myself, shook his hand and told him that story about Jack and the firefighters. He was happy they did it, but not surprised. He told me that the police and fire departments have always been encouraged to get involve with the residents every chance they can.
I was really glad I did that ride on Tuesday. I was undecided on whether or not to go, up until 10pm the night prior, but finally committed and that was a good decision. The ride was fully escorted by a collection of police motorcycles from each city we passed through and they did a great job of keeping traffic stopped at every single intersection on the route (see some photos from the AJC here). I even rode home when it was over making for another 35 mile day. That’s right, I said another 35 mile day. I have been going out to my Team in Training rides every Saturday and this past weekend, and the previous weekend we rode 35 miles each time. My cold has finally passed, so I hung my lungs over the deck rail one day and they got nice and dried out…no more of that gooey crap I’d been coughing up for four weeks. The training is starting to pay off and I am feeling better on hills and picking up the pace a little more. I will ride 20 miles with another group on Thursday night, and then our official training ride on Saturday will be 40 miles. That will total 95 miles this week when it is all done. Sounds like a lot right…not when you consider that our goal is to ride 100 miles in one freaking day.
Look, I have a lot more to say about the bike training, riding on the road and the fundraising experience, but this post has gotten pretty long and as my friend Mike said in response to learning I had played hooky all of Tuesday morning to ride to the capitol building, “That’s nice but…Some of us have to go to our job today!” He may have used some additional adjectives in there, so that is not an exact quote. So, go ahead and get back to work or whatever you were doing 5 minutes ago. Or, if you don’t want to do that, go to my Team in Training website and make a donation, so I can keep on riding with the team. Have a great day.