Thursday, September 07, 2006

Second of Three and Sad News

Rock on ‘BoomerNation!

I hope all of your late season events are going well for you. Let me begin with sending good wishes to my tri-buddy, Tom Falukner, and blogin' sistahs, Sara and IronWil as they race in their first Ironman, IM Wisconsin, this weekend. Guys, breathe deep, relax, and focus on the hill in front of you. You're gonna kick butt!

This weekend I’ll race in the Big Kahuna Half Ironman Triathlon in Santa Cruz, California. This race is the second of the three races I’m racing this year in support of the fight against blood cancers. Thank you to all who have supported, and continue to support, me through your generous sponsorships and encouraging comments and emails.

Fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society continues. Last week my total donations have crossed the $20,000 mark. That’s good but still short of my $30,000 goal.

So, collecting donations may be going fine but the fight against the diseases rages and there’s sad news to report. Stephanie Elaine Henkel, wife and mother of two young children, and one of the Honored Heroes whom I’m racing for lost her battle with lymphoma this week. Here’s a part of the letter her husband wrote,

On Monday, September 4th Stephanie’s battle with Lymphoma came to an end; she has gone with the Lord where she is no longer in pain. I can hardly get through this but I will try.

So much happened in the days since I last posted. Further complications emerged as a product of the Lymphoma coming back, culminating in a decision by her family and me to respect her directive to the physician and not prolong the suffering. For ten months Stephanie put up an amazing fight against what several doctors have called the most aggressive form of Lymphoma they’d ever seen. Perhaps someday I delve into the detail but I can’t do that right now.
The medical staff at the Blood & Marrow Transplant Unit through all of this was nothing short of remarkable. I cannot thank them enough for pouring their heart and soul into taking care of Stephanie, they truly cared for her…after all she had been there for roughly 200 nights plus some 50+ days for clinic visits.

Going forward, I will dedicate my life to making Stephanie proud by raising our children and doing all I can in her honor and memory. Fortunately I am not alone and I will lean on friends and family. I also believe that she is with me and is watching the kids and me each and every day. Perhaps that is my motivation now, as is trying to provide comfort for our kids.

God, this hurts so much!

Without question Stephanie is the best person to have ever come in my life and I miss her immensely. Words cannot describe the emptiness I feel and the reality that she is gone is so painful. I know she is in heaven and survives in our hearts but the loss of my best friend and the best part of me is so hard to handle. I’d give anything for her to walk into her home, healthy and vibrant as I remember her. I’d give anything to hold her and to be able to grow old together. For the last 10+ years she has touched me so deeply and given me the inspiration to become a better man. By making her my wife 9 years ago this week I made my life so much richer. I had the best woman a man could ask for, so much more than I deserved.

Please pray for me, Johnathan & Lauren, Stephanie’s family and mine. We have come closer because of this and will need each other and prayers to get through each day.

It is for Stephanie, her family, and all of those suffering that I race. My own words wither beside her husband's in why I need to complete these events.

70.3 miles of swimming, biking, and running is a long way. This I know well. But the pain and suffering I’ll go through is little compared to those battling leukemia and lymphoma. My desire and my resolve remain in tact and my will does not break in the storm.

Stay tuned…

57 days to my first Ironman


Running Rabbit said...

Good Luck this weekend! You'll be fabulous! Why? Because you have a 6-pack that's why!! Let me know how it turns out. :-)

susan said...

I'm very sorry about the sad news Tri. Even though you haven't met your goal, 20k is still very impressive!
Only 50 days now.