Today, we're sharing a story from Gary Thompson, a past Man of the Year winner in our Central Texas chapter and Team In Training participant, and how he was inspired by Kethan, a young boy with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).
When I first became involved with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) in 2008 as a Man of the Year candidate in Central Texas, I was moved by the fact that leukemia is the leading cause of cancer in children. I accepted the Man of the Year nomination as a personal way to fight back against cancer since my wife, Maureen, has battled breast cancer. Knowing that young children are going through the same chemotherapy as she has made me realize this was the place for me to contribute my own time, talent and treasure in the race to find cures.
Kethan Kumar, soon to be a 3rd grader with my daughter, Kyla, was diagnosed with ALL in June 2006 when he was four-years-old. After just three months of his three-year treatment protocol, he went into remission. Because of his family’s appreciation for LLS’s support during his treatment, they were happy to let him serve as our 2009 Boy Honoree for the Man & Woman of the Year campaign. Unfortunately, this past February Kethan began to experience stomach pains, and they soon discovered that his cancer had returned. So far though, Kethan has responded well to his second round of treatment and everyone is optimistic about his future.
I “adopted” Kethan as my personal hero for my first Team In Training event this past June at America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride in Lake Tahoe. Getting through the rough spots of training was made easier every time I thought of Kethan because I realized no amount of wind in my face or steep climbs on hills compared to the strength he exhibits every day. As the ride got closer, I decided to contribute not just my legs to the Team In Training ride but to contribute a bald head as well. I've committed to Kethan that I will remain bald until his hair starts coming back.
For me, cancer is not about the disease. It is about children like Kethan and our hope for his future.
Your support makes a difference. For more information about LLS’s vital work, visit www.LLS.org.