Columbia Tower... we made it to the top.. Whew!

Columbia Tower… we made it to the top.. Whew!

My son, Guy, and my wife, Willie, joined me this year.

My son, Guy, and my wife, Willie, joined me this year.

Well, I don’t usually write on the weekends but a new reader/follower, Richard Swift, sent a comment asking if I was still writing since I hadn’t done so for some time. His ‘Kick-in-the-buns’ got me going again and I was inspired to write a new post today:

This last March 20, 2016 I did the Big Climb in Seattle. I was joined by my son, who did it with me last year, and by my wife who was doing it for her first time.

We climbed the emergency stairwell of the Columbia Center Building. It is the tallest building in Seattle and the second tallest west of the Mississippi. We climbed 69 floors – 1,311 steps – to help raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. That’s 788 feet straight up! The view at the top is amazing.

Over 6,000 people participated earning around $3,ooo,ooo dollars.

As you climb the stairs there are posters on the wall at each flight. Some are showing sponsored survivors, some are remembrances of those who’ve passed on. Some climbers on their way up touch the posters.

Complete strangers give each other high fives as they pass by on the way up. Six thousand participants and hundreds of volunteer coordinators, all strangers united for one cause… well, it is a great experience.

If any of you want to participate in next years 2017 Climb, registration will begin in October of this year. You can check out the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Big Climb page, call (206) 628-0777, or email bigclimbseattle@lls.org. You can watch a video about the climb here.

This was the civilian climb. I say that because there is also a firefighter climb for the same cause two weeks prior. I’ll be writing more in-depth about that one soon.

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One of the goals of my blog is to show that we can keep Leuk from robbing the time we have. That we can live a normal, though somewhat different, life. Many will beat him and live long lives, others may check out early, but either way, we must push through our worries about the future.

What ever time we are given belongs to us. We are not the leukemia. When we catch a cold we don’t let it define us, we just say ‘I have a cold’. The cold virus is not who we are. Well it’s the same with Leuk… although he’s one hell of a nasty cold bug.

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When I received the news that Leuk had come into my life, I was hesitant to introduce him to anyone. I felt that if I told my friends I had leukemia they would treat me differently. I even thought I would lose some.

But my attempts to keep it a secret made it difficult for my wife. She needed to be able to talk about it to others. I realized I was being selfish in not admitting I had CLL (see my first blog post, Coming Out).

This doesn’t mean I felt compelled to announce it to everyone I met. But my closest friends needed to know.

So what happened? Was I treated differently? Did I lose contact with friends?

Well, in a way, yes.

But it wasn’t my friends. It was mostly me. I became more reserved, more reclusive. I’ve never been a social butterfly. I’m more of an introvert. My circle of friends has always been smaller than most because I choose my friends carefully.

But my natural introverted nature feed my desire to hide. I’m not saying I became a hermit. My wife would never put up with that. But I found myself spending less time with friends.

It turns out my friends did treat me differently. Not for the reasons I had anticipated, but because of my own reactions to Leuk. Sure, some had difficulty talking about it with me, but mostly I was the one with hangups.

When Leuk intrudes in your life, it is important to do two things: (1) acknowledge him, admit that he is real, that he will cause changes in your life, and (2) determine to not let those changes and the threats Leuk makes effect who you are as a person. Your friends need to see you are still you. This can only happen when you see yourself for who you really are.

You have leukemia. But you are not the disease. You are more.

The road to beating Leuk begins with choosing one of two paths. On the one path Leuk is your master and he makes you into his image. On the other, Leuk is invasive but you are the strong, valiant fighter and your first battle will be to reclaim who you are.

There will be times when you feel you are out of control, that Leuk has the upper hand. But deep inside there is a place he can’t touch unless you let him. He has no power to go there unless you open the door.

It is your moral and emotional nature. It is your sense of identity. It is your soul.

Build a safe wall around your soul by staying in contact with your friends and family –  smiling, laughing, singing, and crying with them. Loving them and reassuring them. Staying active. These are the things that feed a healthy soul.

Your body may be sick. You may be having a difficult struggle with Leuk. But that secret place inside of you can be kept healthy. That part of you, the most important part, can stay strong and alive. It all depends on the path you choose.

Choose wisely.

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Went sailing over the 4th of July weekend. Beautiful sail to Sucia; bright sky and smooth water. The trip back, however, involved navigating 3 to 5 foot waves.

But the island was like a sanctuary. Somehow the saltwater lowers my stress and all my worries are left on the beach. I was raised near the water and it’s just a part of me.

Not long after I was married, I nearly got a job in Idaho. No offense Idahoans, but I am soooo glad I didn’t get the job. I know you have some beautiful lakes, but fresh water just doesn’t cut it for me.

I’ll take the San Juan Islands, and the Salish Sea. God may visit other states, but this is where He lives.

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Remember the Big Climb I attempted last March? Well, I made it! Here’s some pics:

Tee Shirt from Big Climb for leukemia

Logo on my tee shirt

Headed for the startling line

Headed for the startling line

posters on wall in stairwell

Posters of friends and loved ones were on the walls between floors

Lots of rests stops, but still going!

Lots of rests stops, but still going!

Floor 64 for and STILL more to go!

Floor 64 for and STILL more to go!

Made it to the top!

Made it to the top!

My son Guy was very patient when I had to stop and rest every 10 floors or so. But here we are at the top triumphant!

My son Guy was very patient when I had to stop and rest every 10 floors or so. But here we are at the top triumphant!

View from the top... That's the Space Needle way down there in the background.

View from the top… That’s the Space Needle way down there in the background.

Ta-dahh!

Ta-dahh!

Columbia Tower in Seattle

The Columbia Tower… Whew!

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