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First, let me start this out with “Gabriel’s doing awesome.”  We have truly been so blessed with his health and progress.

We are two weeks away from him getting his central line/Broviac out.  This my friends is worthy of five exclamation points!!!!!  For those of you who have not experienced a Broviac line, this is a huge step forward in his treatment.  For us it means a lot.  First, no more weekly blood draws.  Second, no more weekly dressing changes.  Third, no more daily flushes.  Fourth, no more almost guaranteed hospitalizations if he gets a fever, even if for some reason his counts are low, because the fear of a blood infection isn’t there due to the absence of the central line.

Yes, there are some downsides.  We won’t be doing weekly blood draws, we’ll do monthly, which means we’re going to be in the dark about where his counts are at – and we’ve gotten pretty accustomed to knowing that information.  And, Gabe’s going to be getting pokes, real pokes, for every Chemo treatment and every blood draw.

However, the upsides are just too much, besides all the stuff just related to the maintenance of the line, Gabriel will be able to go swimming, take baths, get in our hot tub, and do all sorts of things like that, things he hasn’t been able to do for the past year and half.  It’s amazing how little things can mean so much.

Outside of that, there hasn’t been a whole lot of news to report.  We’ve been hunkered down for the past few weeks.  Gabe’s been having fun doing his Cub Scouts activities.  Chet’s a running fool.  And, slowly, ever so slowly life is beginning to feel a bit more normal and there are moments where you almost forget that you’re still living with cancer.

If you haven’t seen this video yet, it’s awesome.  It makes me just cry, tears of understanding, compassion, pain, joy, empathy, sorrow, all in a single moment.  But, again, it is just awesome.

You know, cancer makes you stronger.  Whether you’re the one actually dealing with the physical disease, or whether you’re the loved one sharing the journey.

Today, Chet and I found out a dear friend has just been diagnosed with cancer.  It’s a cousin to leukemia, and man it just hurts deep in the gut.  The pain is just too deep to describe and there’s no way to express the emotions associated with knowing another person you know and love has to deal with such a crazy disease.

We shared with Gabriel our friend’s diagnosis.  Man, the kid is absolutely astonishing, empathetic, and incredible.  He started crying.  Today he got a stress relief squeezer thing.  Gabe was so frustrated that through gritted teeth he asks me for the squeezer.  I dig it out of his bag and hand it to him.  He starts squeezing it as hard and he can, and then throws it across the room in anger.

He is such an amazing person.  I hope he never looses that empathy, compassion and just real nature.  It makes him into an absolutely awesome soul to be around.

We’re all stronger from this experience.  Our most fervent prayers go out to our friend and we ask that you pray for his health and prognosis too.

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Well, it’s time to catch, those who are interested, up on Chet’s running on Western States 100 this year.  Chet was selected as part of the Silver State Striders lottery spot, which gave him the opportunity to have a second running of the event.  Chet really wanted to run the race again because last year was a snow route and he wanted to run the original course.

Unfortunately, it was once again a snow route due to the incredible winter we had this year.  Chet was mighty disappointed and, honestly, had it not been for getting the Silver State Striders lottery spot, he probably would have bailed on the event just because of all the other stuff going on in our life and his desire to do the original course.

Having the commitment to do it though was great.  And, all things being said and done, he really did enjoy the race again this year.

Pre-race meeting at Squaw Valley.

Chet visiting with Jose San Gabriel after the pre-race meeting.

Chet doing his annual modeling of the schwag from the event – Moben sleeves, leg warmers and a head do-hickie-thing-a-majiggie.

The runners nervous energy in advance of the event.

How quickly it clears out about 10 minutes before race start.

Chet hanging out before the race.

Right before the race start – like 30 seconds.  Looking good and chilled.

And he’s off. 

Due to the snow course this year, crew wasn’t able to meet up with the runners until mile 55 at the Michigan Bluff Aid Station.  Chet wanted food, and he was hungry for the real deal.  He put away a foot long Subway sandwich.  I enjoyed just hanging out with Jenny Dicus and experiencing Michigan Bluff with half as many people as usual.

Chet chowing on his foot long.

Heading back out onto to the trail on his way to the Forest Hill Aid Station.

See you in a few miles.

Chet rolled into the Forest hill Aid Station looking great and ready to pick up Scott, who was pacing him this year.

Getting weighed-in at Forest Hill Aid Station.

Looking good and all smiles.

Lots of conversation with George and I.

Scott and Chet are off for the last 38 miles of the race.

While I made my way down to Green Gate, the next reasonable spot to meet Chet; however, I forgot to take my camera and of course didn’t get a picture.  But, it was dark, dusty and not really all that interesting.  After meeting Chet and Scott at Green Gate, I caught a quick 40 minute nap before taking the shuttle to the Highway 49 crossing Aid Station.

Chet and Scott arriving at Highway 49.

Chet, still all smiles with 7 miles to go.

Scott with some witty comment I suppose.  I don’t really remember much from that time of the day/night/whatever.

Chet coming in for a strong finish.

Yah, the first 100 of the year is done and in the books.

And, even after Chet finished sprinting in his 100 miles, he was excited to our friend Bill and ran in along the track at Auburn High School cheering Bill to the finish.

 

Enjoying a well deserved beer after a great 100 miler.

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Through the Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation, Gabriel got the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a Reno Aces game.  The Reno Aces are the Minor League MLB team and affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

We didn’t know whether Gabriel’s counts would be high enough to do it, but by the grace of God, his counts were good enough and it was an amazing evening.  There really is no way for Chet and I to express our gratitude to the Reno Aces franchise for giving Gabriel the opportunity.

Gabriel got to go down during batting practice and meet all the different players.  While Gabriel was off schmoozing with the baseball players, Chet and I got a personalized grand tour of the ballpark and learned different things about the park we didn’t know.  It was a truly amazing experience. After a while, Gabriel was reunited with us and after finishing the tour together, we all headed out onto the ballfield for the festivities.

The National Anthem

Gabriel was ALL warmed up for the first pitch, and he threw out an AMAZING first pitch.  It was awesome, a great throw, and right on target.

After the pitch, Gabriel was able to take the line-up sheet out to the umpires with the Ace’s Manager, Brett Buttler.

And, of course, he got an amazing photo opportunity with Brett Buttler, an amazing man and cancer survivor himself.

All in all it was a terrific time, an amazing time.  A truly memorable opportunity.

Adding to the awesomeness of the experience was the support of my parents and many of our friends here locally who came out for the game and to watch Gabriel throw out that first pitch.  Mom, Dad, Jen, Dave, Julia, Sam, Melanie, Eric, Aiden, Chloe, Kathie, Al, George and Ronda all came out and showed their support for Gabriel.  That was amazing and really touched our hearts in a way we can’t even begin to express.

This final photo I think really sums up Gabe’s experience.  He still talks about the ball players.

Special thanks to Rick Parr, the General Manager for the Reno Aces for the photo’s too.  His pictures are MUCH better than mine. 

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Despite Gabriel’s cancer diagnosis and treatment, certain elements of our lives have had to stay normal, and a major component of our lives for the past decade has been Chet’s ultra running.  Not only has it been a healthy outlet for Chet, but it has brought us into contact with some of the most amazing people and through those contacts, we’ve made incredible friends.  As you may or may not know, Chet’s transitioned from running primarily 50k and/or 50 mile events during the first 5 years of his ultra running life to primarily 100 mile events.

Last year, Chet ran the Western States 100 and he again was selected, through our local running club’s lottery, to run the race.  Chet found out of course before Gabriel was diagnosed at the end of December.  After Gabe’s diagnosis, Chet and I had a bit of soul searching to do regarding his running for the next year.  However, running is such an important component to our lives, and ultimately, it really was a no brainer – of course Chet would be running.

While we were all dedicated to supporting Chet as he trained, this year his training took a new tone and style.  Meaning, Chet basically got his training completed on the weekends.  But, he has been training and running.

One of our “standard” events every year is the Silver State 50/50.  I run the Ranch Creek aid station and Chet runs the event.  This year, Brynda, our neighbor helped me out at the aid station, and I have to say it was a jolly good time.  Brynda definitely kept things interesting!

We have one of the most beautiful locations on the course to set up our aid station, and oooh, yah, there’s a little story behind that.  With all the distraction I’ve had this year, I didn’t give a single thought to where my aid station was until after I was driving up there.  Clearly my brain cells were totally malfunctioning, because I started setting up at the wrong aid station.  My gut kept telling me I was at the wrong location, but I didn’t trust my gut.  Fortunately, we were alerted (thanks Lon) with plenty of time to break down, relocate and set up again.  Thanks to Brynda for indulging my brainless self that day.  Haha.

Brynda was an incredible volunteer and so helpful to me and the different runners.

Chet ran the 50 mile event and looked amazing!

Overall, it was an awesome day.  Not only did Chet and I enjoy having a bit of our normal existence, but Gabriel’s counts were high enough that he was able to go to the pre-race event and hang out at the finish line waiting for Chet.  It was a blessed and beautiful day.

The rest of May and June didn’t involve too much excitement for us.  We transitioned from the interim maintenance phase of Gabriel’s treatment to delayed intensification.  But, fortunately, Gabriel’s little body tolerated the methotrexate he was given that we had the opportunity to have one very special event, and it involved the Reno Aces.  Stay tuned, part 3 of A Whole Lot of Catch Up will be filled with amazement and excitement, I promise!

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At least that is how the last three months have felt to Chet and I, and admittedly, more for Chet.  We’ve been working on finishing 10 years of remodeling projects in the last three months, and finally, we are seeing the light at the end of this very long tunnel.

I should be posting pictures of all our hard work, but we’ve been very absent with the camera throughout this process, which now seems rather tragic.  For those who have been to our home, you wouldn’t even believe what our house looks like anymore.  This beautiful 1934 bungalow is just charming.  Granted, it has always been a charming home, but it’s just finally come together – just in time for us to sell it.

Why is it that we, as people, generally have a list of home improvements we want to accomplish and then only rush to do them right before we sell a place?  I mean, it would have been really nice to enjoy all the work we’ve (well, mostly Chet) put in over these past several months.  Oh well, the house is beautiful and it is my sincere dream that who ever buys this home will fall in love with it just as we have.

I do promise pictures soon of the work we have done.  Maybe, some time in the future when I unpack the old pictures of the house we took over the last decade I can post “then” and “now’s.”  I make no promises however.

I really owe Chet enormous gratitude for all his hard work and sacrifices.  I mean, he’s spent practically every single day since the middle of November working his butt off on this house, and for the last month, it’s been at the expense of his training.  But, if all goes as planned, the house will be ready to list on the first of next month and he can hit the trail running. ;o)

As for running, it’s going to be an awesome year.  He’s only planning on doing local 100’s this year, which will be a welcome relief for our travel budget.  But, aside from saving some money not traveling all over the western U.S., it’s going to be a really fun year.  Our good friends, Jim and Leslie are coming to the States from New Zealand.  They’re going to spend several months here in the U.S. running, visiting friends and hopefully spending some time with us.

Equally exciting is the planned Griswold Family Vacation by the Olgolvies who are planning on coming out.  Taylor is signed up to run the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 Miler this year.  So, the whole family is going to make a trip and we’re just thrilled.

So, over Tahoe weekend this year, we’ll have the pleasant company of Jim and Leslie – Jim’s running the TRT 100 and Leslie’s running the 50 miler.  That makes 3 great friends coming from out of town to run the various events.

And, God willing, we’ll have our house sold and be in a new home and have more than enough room for all our visitors to spend time with us!

Here it is, nearly 1 a.m. and Chet and I are finally taking a couple moments to unwind from the day with a couple of beers.  Pictures later.  For now, it’s time to take a deep breath, enjoy another beer and get myself ready to finish painting the interior of this house tomorrow.

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