March, 2011 browsing by month


The Growth Factor’s Kickin’ it Off!!!

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Surprisingly, I’m relatively awake for 1:13 AM, especially for someone working with one unit less of blood!  That’s right…I had my second therapeutic phlebotomy tonight!  Maybe that was bad blood or something…it must have been holding me back because any other night, I would be exhausted by now…I feel like I’ve had a transfusion…that’s how much energy I have at 1:15 AM (yes, it’s taken me 2 minutes to write these last couple of sentences :) ).

I’m pretty sure though that it doesn’t have anything to do with the blood and it’s just pure adrenalin.  You see, today is kick-off day for my Man & Woman of the Year campaign!!!!!  From now until June 11th, The Growth Factor (my team name) will be working hard to meet our goal of $50,000!  The past few hours, I’ve been busy putting the finishing touches on e-mails, figuring out how to do mail merge on the Mac, printing up address labels, fixing a printer (why do these things always break right when we’re in the thick of things? :) ) and social networking my little heart out.  And it is all for ONE. IMPORTANT. CAUSE…

“to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families” (the mission of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society).

From blood transfusions to phelbotomies…from fatigue to energy…from diagnosis to newfound health…these past six years have seen many transformations, and this campaign is my ultimate gesture of gratitude to an organization that makes second…and third chances possible.

Happy kick-off Day to everyone!!  If you find me whining at all over the stress of the campaign the next ten weeks, kindly remind me of this post and how far I’ve come.  It is an honor to be able to help others.  I think Calvin Coolidge put it a little more eloquently:

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”

And here’s a little motivational photo to get everyone in the fundraising-kick-butt-state-of-mind:

You’re ready to help me kick some butt now, right?!!  Woohoo!!!!!!  Here’s to ten weeks of fantastic,  fascinating fundraising festivities!



For more info, visit my Man & Woman of the Year campaign page.

My Hilltop Hour

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Wow…I just don’t know where to begin!  I think I’ll save the best for last.  Wait…don’t scroll to the bottom just yet because all the news is good!!!  You don’t want to miss out on anything.  :)

Think on this for a moment or two:  “The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome.  The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.” ~Helen Keller

My hilltop hour has arrived!  Well, I guess that’s not completely true.  The past six years have brought with them several dark valleys, but many more hilltop hours:  remission, marathons, birthdays.  I consider this next adventure the culmination of all things leukemia.  It is indeed a wonderful honor to announce my candidacy for Woman of the Year in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Man & Woman of the Year campaign (MWOY)!

Ryan Darby
Ryan Darby

I participate on behalf of a Boy & Girl of the Year for the National Capital Area, Ryan Darby (age 7) and Molly Farrell (age 5).  Ryan is undergoing treatment for precursor B acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and Molly is receiving treatment for pre-B lymphoblastic lymphoma.  From what I have learned, the treatment for children is typically a much longer process.  Ryan’s official end of treatment will be February, 2013, and he was diagnosed in December, 2009.

I have also learned, however, that the five-year survival rate for children with ALL is now 89%, up from 3% in the 1960s!   Much of this is due to LLS and the incredible amount of research they have supported since its beginnings in 1949.  When Rudolph and Antoinette de Viliers founded the Robert Roesler de Villiers Foundation in New York City, leukemia was considered 100% fatal:  “most leukemia patients, especially children, died within three months” (LLS website, “Hope Rises from Loss”).  Their own son, after whom the foundation was originally named, died at age 16.

The Robert Roesler de Villiers Foundation, now known as LLS, has invested upwards of $750 million in leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma research.  Sometimes I let my mind wander, imagining the “what ifs”:  What if the de Villiers family never took the time to start a fundraising and education organization?  What if no one supported them?  What if doctors and scientists didn’t believe in the possibilities of new research?  What if I lived in a different era?  How would my outcome have differed even ten years ago?

Molly Farrell

Molly Farrell

I’m not one to dwell on statistics, but it’s impossible not to be impressed by the numerical achievements.  What is important is to remember that they’re not simply numbers.  They represent patients.  This is where I feel my personal story will help others to realize how important LLS is.  I am fortunate that I do not have to explain how wonderful the organization is, how honorably they handle themselves and their financials.  It is very well-respected which makes my hilltop hour all the more enjoyable.

This blog post has some conflicting statements.  I am doing this in honor of Ryan and Molly and so other patients may enjoy the health that I do, but I call it my hilltop hour…kind of selfish, huh?  Well, here’s how I look at it:  as a leukemia survivor, I cannot help but feel great pride simply because I am alive.  And I’m not even responsible for my health!  I owe that to my doctors (especially Dr. Kales! :) ), nurses, Laura and the many, many scientists who have studied cancer and pathology.  Still, whether or not I had anything to do with it, I’m proud to go out there and say, “I’m still here.”  Maybe on some subconscious level, I feel like it’s my gift to all those who’ve toiled on my behalf or an inspiration for patients who feel like they will never again have the life that they once did.  I know I am lucky because not everyone survives and not everyone thrives.  Pride probably shouldn’t have anything to do with it, but it does.  Thus, I consider this campaign my hilltop hour.

I will go out onto that stage for the final gala June 11th proud and grateful to be part of such an incredible experience.  There’s something about fancy dresses that make any girl feel special.  :)  It’s the best time for me to say “Look at me, leukemia!!  I kicked your a@$ and I’m beautiful and healthy now!”  You know what else is cool?  I get to pick an at-bat song, and I chose something very meaningful…I’m not going to give it away, but if you’ve been reading my blog regularly, you’ll know what I chose!

It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be nominated, and I am incredibly grateful to Brian for thinking of me.  He is a fellow leukemia survivor and transplant patient (his brother was a perfect match, and he received his transplant the same year I got mine!) and he was a candidate for Man of the Year last year.  Thank you, Brian!!

The campaign kicks off March 31st!!  Lori, Katie and I have been hard at work getting some planning down the past few months.  They too are an important part of my hilltop hour because they are my campaign managers.  We plan on utilizing technology to the utmost, so check in to keep updated on campaign progress:

My Man & Woman of the Year Fundraising page:

Facebook:  Julie’s Woman of the Year campaign



Lucy Jean!!!

Lucy Jean!!!

And NOW for the best, most wonderful news…drum roll, please!!!  I am now an aunt!!!!!!!!!!!  Lucy Jean Tiso was born Tuesday, March 8th, 8 pounds, 20 inches.  She and Laura are both doing well, and Tiso made it home just in time!  Little Lucy is just perfect.  I am looking forward to spoiling her rotten!  I mean, look at that face!!  Wouldn’t you do the same?

OK, it’s a gettin’ late, so I’m headed to bed.  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend…spring is almost here!!!

Lots of love,

Aunt Julie