Dear friends and family,
As most of you know this year was full of change, challenge and character building for our family. It was nearly one year ago today that Abigail, my youngest sister began to experience symptoms including increasing numbness in her toe, legs and abdomen. Little did we know that these annoying symptoms would increase and no longer remain annoying but rather become life changing. Abigail was diagnosed in September with relapsing/remitting MS at the young age of 29. While the months that followed were full of disappointment, fear, uncertainty and acceptance, we as a family never imagine that our journey would become more complicated and quite frankly more frightening. Abigail endured a couple of intense and unpredictable months as she moved through her diagnosis and treatment therapy. 2 things will not surprise about this time. First, Abby emerged as a stronger woman with a determination to fight MS and continue to live her life as close to “normal” as possible. Second, it is no surprise that our Mom (and Dad) to were there EVERY step of the way. In fact, Mom and Dad lived apart for nearly 2 months as Mom provided around the clock care for Abigail in Lexington. So as Abigail began to improve and became accustomed to her new “normal” we had no idea what lay ahead. The week before Mom was set to head home (after Thanksgiving) our lives were nearly changed in 24-hour period when Mom was unexpectedly rushed to the local hospital and then on to the University of Kentucky in critical condition. There is no doubt that the Lord protected me during that time as Matt and I rushed to Lexington (not knowing what we were heading into). The first 48 hours are those that I will never erase from my mind and those that I never want to experience again. However, after Mom made it through those first 2-3 days, slowly, slowly, the picture began to brighten. While Mom remained ill her diagnosis and prognosis evolved and became less daunting than we were originally told. Today Mom is living with and managing her diagnosis with CLL (Chronic Leukemia). While this is typically a leukemia that is considered more of a frustration that anything else, Mom has had some peaks and valleys due to additional complications. We were told that this is a Leukemia that you die with….not of. However, to say that this diagnosis has changed our lives is an understatement. Mom’s lifestyle and focus have changed. Quite frankly it was until a doctor made it abundantly clear, Mom now knows just how sick she was!
Nearly a year later, however, we have SO much to be thankful for. Mom and Abby are fighters. They are warriors. They are also advocates for research, answers and pioneers in disease modification for MS and CLL. So you ask, where Alli do fit in all of this? More importantly you are also asking (I am certain), why am I receiving this liturgy from Alli? If you know me well enough, you know that I am person a faith and a girl that loves her family! Does anyone else think that it is crazy that my internship in college was with the MS Society and that when Matt and I trained for the Chicago Marathon in 2003, it was with Team in Training? Crazy? No. God’s plan? Yes. And that my friends is my role. I am SO proud to say that together Abby and I are participating in the Nike half-Marathon in San Francisco in honor of our Mom. I could write a book alone on the woman that is our Mom. She is selfless, loving, caring, tender, spunky, opinionated, smart, committed and above all else the best mother that 3 girls could ask for. She is an unbelievable cook, wife, volunteer, teacher and grandmother. She is a loyal friend and one that has no bounds. So this, this small, small gift is for her. This race, however, represents so much more. This is Abby, Anne and I celebrating and honoring our Mother’s health, this is me beaming with pride at Abby’s perseverance, this is sisterhood, this is family, and this is love. This is also a commitment to battling blood cancers. Team in training is such a wonderful, wonderful organization that puts its mission first. The Nike marathon itself is also a race solely dedicated to Leukemia and Lymphoma. While I know we are all bombarded with requests for donations and support, I hope you know that I send with the truest intentions. I support my Mom. I support my sister. I support good research. I ask you to join in this event by donating what you can. Anything and everything is welcome. Every dollar counts. Once I reach my minimum 100% of my fundraising efforts go directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. Please know that prayers, a running buddy, cheerleaders and positive reinforcement are all forms of support. I thank you in advance for your support. I will keep those of you interested updated. And I guarantee you that Abby and I will cross that line together in October with our Mom in mind. There are others that I will honor during this race. I have been touched and changed by survivors that surround me in my life. Their attitudes, fervor and zest for life are what make me move during my runs! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Love Alli