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Keith Blake

Keith Blake

07/24/2019
On April 24th, 2007, I was headed to a local happy hour with some friends. I ended up taking a cab the few blocks to the bar where we were meeting because I hadn’t been feeling myself for a while and didn’t feel up to the walk. But, I wasn’t that worried as my girlfriend had finally convinced me to see the doctor about it, which I had done only hours earlier; he sent a blood sample to the lab, told me he expected the results by next week and prescribed some massages in the meantime. (Doctor-ordered massages? Nice.) After only a drink or two, followed by turning in extra early, I awoke the next morning to voicemail from my doctor, who, in a hushed tone, informed me that something wasn’t right and he had made an appointment for me at the cancer institute later that afternoon but that I should call immediately and move it up. Which I did, and promptly found myself sitting in a private room at the Swedish Cancer Center, in Seattle, WA, absorbing what my new oncologist was telling me, and trying to figure out how I was going to tell my girlfriend that, since my white blood cell count was 10x the norm and 99% cancerous thus crowding out the few good white blood cells (responsible for fighting infection, disease and a whole host of other good things), there was zero doubt that what had been plaguing me recently was Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia and that a bed was already been prepped for me in the cancer ward and I needed to begin treatment immediately. Following many tears, a somber call to my parents in Cleveland, and a brief outline of what was to come, there remained only one option: fight. And, fight we did. After a better than expected response to chemotherapy and significant progress, I was leaving the hospital after 20 days; a full week early. A day later, on May 14th, we got the results: 100% full remission. A grueling 6 month continuing chemotherapy regiment and a subsequent 12-18 month “maintenance”/draw down to ensure it wouldn’t return ended just after I was finally able to propose to my angel who never left my side on May 14th, 2008 and we were married on May 2, 2009. This year, on May 14th, 2019, I’ll reach my 12-year mark cancer free. But, unfortunately, I was lucky. I was in prime form to take on such a battle; I was 27, young, strong and healthy, had a top notch medical team who would stop at nothing to ensure my best chance, was surrounded by a gigantic love and support system spread across the country and had a special angel who stuck by my side every step of the way. I knew exactly what I was fighting for. The sad truth is that these cancers disproportionately strike children. The thought of a child having to go through what I did, and potentially without the support structure I was fortunate enough to have in place, brings me, a self-considered tough guy/man’s man/no-I-don’t-want-sissy-sprinkles-on-my-ice-cream-but-please-read-between-the-lines-and-give-them-to-me-anyways, to tears. Streaming-down-your-face tears. The fact is that I am here today because of those that came before me. As well as those that came before you, and donated whatever, volunteered however, and spread the word as much as they could. My life was saved because people I’ve never met, nor will ever know support the research and treatment efforts of LLS and organizations like them. The reasons why we’re out here asking for your support, the reason why VeloSano and groups like them all around the country train, run and ride. The reason why I’m writing this right now, isn’t for donations. It’s for lives. Cancer sucks. Help us end it. CCKMA, Keith

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