You are currently browsing the blog archives for September, 2008.



Cartwheels and Happy Dances

By Leesa Gabel

I’ve been withholding information for a few days. Now I feel that I can share. I had blood and bone marrow samples taken last week. I found out Friday that my blood came back cancer-free. I was waiting for the bone marrow results to get very excited — that came back cancer-free as well !!

Time to do those cartwheels and happy dances!!!

I go back to the doctor on Oct. 11 to repeat the same tests. I pray that I’ll remain cancer-free because if I do, I’ll be able to use the words ‘in remission’ by year’s end!!

My sister-in-law sent me a box of hats yesterday! Now I need to go out and buy some outfits to go with them!! They’re all so very nice. She even threw in a matching hat and scarf in a rich burgundy — bring on the cold!!

I’m still feeling quite tired in the late afternoons and evenings. But the nausea has stopped and my appetite is coming back. I did make it over to the pool yesterday for a swim. It felt good to get back to some light exercising. Hopefully I’ll be up to doing 10 miles this weekend. Ten miles!! I can’t believe the high miles are already here, it still feels like we just started. That 20-mile day will be here before I know it!



Weekend Update

By Leesa Gabel

What a week I had!! I was so very glad to get to Friday!! We had a nice, quiet dinner with neighbors on Friday; even got to fit in some quality time with my two best girlfriends at Starbucks!! Saturday was a full and busy day. For the first time since Aug. 30 I didn’t do my Saturday training. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to, it’s because my doctor told me to take a break from it this weekend — I’ll post more about that tomorrow. So while Craig went out and got in his 8 miles, I cleaned the kitchen and started packing for our camping trip. That’s right — we went camping this weekend!! It was a Cub Scout family campout at Camp Naish. We packed way too much stuff for a simple over-night camp. Yikes!!

Before we headed to camp, we took Alex to a Webelos Walkabout. His first look at local Boy Scout Troops. We still have a year before he’ll cross over to Boy Scouts, but it’s time to start looking. It’s like it’s his junior year of high school and he’s shopping for a college. Afterwards, off to camp, but first a stop by Cabela’s to check if our new cots were in. Nope. Of course not. Side note: Murphy’s Law that the cots arrived today!!

Arrive at camp around 4pm. Although there is a nice breeze, it’s hot in the sun. Get camp set up and I find my spot — in my new reclining chair in the shade. I do like camping. I like being outdoors in the spring, autumn and winter (note the absence of summer). But I don’t like camping where there is not a washhouse with flushing toilets. I could see the washhouse from our tent — two port-a-potties!! Ew!!! I was afraid of this — so I made certain to grab wet-wipes. We did have a good time. I slept outside under the stars because I couldn’t get comfortable in the tent. So I earned my ‘starlight’ bead!!! The one thing I’ll take away from camping (besides my bead)…..that you can roast your own coffee beans in an ‘air-pop’ popcorn machine!!! A guy there roasts his own coffee beans and told us how, so now we’re going to try it out!!!

We left camp early (about 8:20am) because it was our church’s ‘Church Outside the Building’ day. We partner with another local church and go out in groups to help with various projects. We picked park clean up. So we headed to a park very close to our house. The kids and I picked up trash, while Craig helped mulch all the beds and trees. Again, nice temp, but very hot under the sun. By noon we were all whipped. We were home by 1, showered and naps in progress by 2!!! Craig and the kids went back to Cabela’s to get our cots. At least we’ll have them for our camping trip in October (this camp ground will have flushing toilets!!!). Had another great dinner with neighbors and then out to DQ for ice cream!! I’m in love with the Banana Cream Pie Blizzard!!! Now it’s off to bed!!!!



Continuous Mile and 8 Miles

By Craig Gabel

Continuous Mile and 8 Miles
Last night I peaked on my zero to 1 mile workout. I swam a continuous mile. It felt pretty good but I was a little slow on my time. I finished it in 26 minutes 45 seconds. It about 12-13 minutes off world record pace so no broken records today but it was a personal best since my recent return to the pool. This morning I got in 8 miles running. That was tuff. I went by myself today since Leesa was not feeling up to it and her doctor advised her not to train for a few days due to chemo knocking her down a bit. When I go out by myself I tend to run more than when Leesa and I go together so it was a tuff 8 miles. I can’t wait for her to get back into the swing of things because I need to slow down and I also really miss the company. We’re a team on this and I need the other half of my team in order for us to succeed. I tried several training methods ranging from alternating timed intervals (1 min 30 sec walking (fast pace) and then 1 min 30 sec running), to a straight mile fast paced walk and a slow paced walk. I did learn that my fastest miles were the ones were I walked the uphills and ran the downhills and flat segments. Sometimes having the GPS watch doesn’t make you faster but it is very handy to record your training and to know where you’re at in the process. At this point going forward I now know that we just need to focus on running our own race and not get too much into an interval or paced run. We may change our minds on that down the road but that is what is working for us today. Next week I start on the full Ironman 2.4 mile swim workout (that will cover the next 6 months) and we hit the 10 mile mark on our running/walking. I pray that Leesa will get her energy back soon so we can keep pushing toward our goal.




By Leesa Gabel

That word best describes how I’ve felt the last couple of days. lists one definition as being ‘to affect deeply in mind or emotion’.

Each day I seem to find myself at a loss for words. Which is very much out of the ordinary for me – I love words; written or spoken. Even now I can’t find the right ones to use — the ones that will appropriately convey the depth of my gratitude or how blessed I feel.

I know Craig and I have really opened up our lives on this website, but there really is so much more that happens that we don’t share. It’s not really because we don’t want to, we just don’t know how to turn these emotions into words.

I forward every online donation notification we receive to Craig and each one amazes us. The generosity being shown – it’s overwhelming. His co-workers have stepped up to the plate big-time. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a donation come thru from Hesse before it’s over. ;) But it’s not just them – it’s everyone. I received a donation from a woman that I went to school with from 1st to 12th grade. I hadn’t been in touch with her for years – YEARS – and then one day out-of-the-blue, I get a donation notification. Another mutual friend had told her about the site. WOW! Turns out she is very active in the St. Louis chapter of the Society and leads the Pennies for Patients fundraising campaign at our elementary school alma mater where she teaches. She’s asked me to come to their campaign kick off in the spring! How ‘small world’!!

It’s not all about the financial generosity. Without our neighbors letting our kids sleep over on Friday nights, we wouldn’t be able to attend the Saturday morning trainings so easily. That’s been an absolute God-send.

The encouraging emails I receive….the phone calls….the blog comments…..they all add to the ‘overwhelmed’ feeling.

This whole experience – having leukemia, being a part of TNT, undertaking a major fundraiser – has become much more than I ever imagined it would be.

I’ve been told that I’m ‘amazing’ and ‘an inspiration’ — really, I’m just a woman who’s out to do whatever it takes to beat leukemia.



My New ‘do’

By Leesa Gabel

Yesterday was rather surreal. After dropping off the kids Craig and I headed over to a store in OP that specializes in headgear for cancer patients. It was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays were by appointment only, so I’d have to wait until Wednesday. No way!! Right around the corner was a place called Cancer Action. Craig’s co-worker had mentioned it was a good resource, so we went in thinking they could recommend another store to visit. Boy were we wrong about that! Not only did they have their own headgear room — it was all free!!! I was able to pick out a wig, a scarf and hat — for free!!! Plus they loaded us up with an afghan made my volunteers, a neck pillow, a coloring book for Alex and a doll for Ashlee. They were so very, very helpful and so very, very kind!! I left feeling a bit overwhelmed.

After, I still needed to get my head shaved, but we figured we’d go look for the Life is Good store and get me a hat. We went over to Town Center Plaza (a high-end outdoor shopping area) – we couldn’t find the store. So we went into Dick’s Sporting Goods because we knew they had the brand there. I found the perfect hat — Life is Good on the back, a picture of a flower on the front with the word – Grow — PERFECT!!!! Craig and I laughed and laughed about that.

On the way out to the truck Craig suggested we go over to a salon across the street and see if they’d shave my head. Not just your typical cheap cuts family salon — this was Mario Tricoci. This one was all Craig…I just stood there as he told them about me and asked if they would donate a hair cut…hair shave actually. They would and we made an appointment for later in the afternoon. After a nice lunch, a quick swing by the house to pick up the camera and a call to my best friend to ask her to meet us there….off we went to get my hair shaved. My stomach was in knots. And when we walked in…..I could see the looks in everyone’s eye…they all knew why I was there….and soon the other patrons in the store would too. I was on the verge of tears the entire time. My stylists was so very nice. Craig did film the event….we’ll get it online very soon. I can’t say enough nice things about Mario Tricoci and the wonderful people there. Special thanks too to my dear friend Lauren – very glad she was there to hold me hand. In case you’re wondering….they took my hair and will send it off to be donated. Someone out there is going to love my natural copper highlights!!

Afterwards we did find the Life is Good store. Unfortunately, their knits hats aren’t in yet. But I’m told that I’m not going to need to go out shopping for hats because my sister-in-law who is a graphic designer/artist and works at an apparel company is going to hook me up! WooHoo!!

Then it was time to tell the kids. I wore a hat to pick up Alex. He didn’t even notice until we were almost home. Definitely need to work on his ‘think before you speak’ skills. But he is just 9. Ashlee didn’t like seeing me without hair. Even though she told all her friends that I’d be bald when I came back in the afternoon. I think it’s going to take her some time to get used to seeing me without hair. Heck, I still am not used to it. 

And so I begin another day. I’m going to work today. Not sure if I’m wearing the wig or a hat. Actually, I’m still not sure how I feel about the wig. It’s nice…has a good style….better style than what I had with my own hair. Perhaps I need to wear it around the house.

Just never thought I’d be having this dilemma in my life……



Hair today, Gone tomorrow

By Leesa Gabel

My hair fell out. Not all of it, but a good portion. It started yesterday. I had pulled my hair back into a ponytail after swimming and was combing it out later at home when it happened. A big chunk just came out. It wasn’t noticeable, but I knew it was there. And I cried…a lot. I thought I was ready for if hair loss happened, but I don’t think you’re ever really ready for such life-changing events. I just needed a moment. Now this morning in the shower even more came out. It’s definitely noticeable now. Craig and I are taking the day off. We’re going to go do some shopping. I found a store in OP that has headgear for cancer patients. I don’t want a wig or scarf, so I’m looking for hats. Then we’re going to hit the Life is Good store. All I hope for… that my hair doesn’t come back in all grey!!!!




By Leesa Gabel

5:00am came very early Saturday morning. That’s the time I had to wake up in order to make it to our 6:00am team training. I am not a morning person by any means, so I’m slow and need as much time as possible. It was still dark when we hit the trail, thankfully the moon was high and bright, so it provided some light. I was in awe of the others who took off running/jogging the dark trail as parts of it is rather wooded. A few had headlamps, but most didn’t. I was being extra careful where I stepped – the light and shadows played tricks on me – and there are lots of walnut trees along the trail. I’d like to say it was a beautiful sunrise, but I didn’t see it as it was behind me. I was just thankful that it came up so I could pick up my pace. Which really wasn’t much because I felt dizzy most of the way — aftereffects of the chemo pill. 

One of the things Craig and I talked about as we walked was whether I should do the half-marathon (13.1 miles) or the full (26.2 miles). I have to be realistic. I know it’s still early in training, but my times aren’t really improving that much. Times? Disney has a time limit – a minimum of a 16-minute mile. Right now I’m at a 20-minute mile. If I were on a treadmill I’d be walking at a 3 speed, I need to walk at least at a 4.2 speed. I’m going to give myself until our recommitment day in November to decide. It’s a really tough decision because I feel like if I switch to the half that I’ll be letting myself and others down.

The rest of my Saturday was basically spent in bed. The 6 miles we walked wiped me out. We did venture out in the evening for dinner and to look at some camping gear. We’ve got a scout family camp-out next weekend and then we’re taking an extended family camping trip in October. The weather will be perfect!!

Today we’re heading over to the pool for family swim time. Good way to stretch my muscles – plus spend time with the kids.

The other news of the weekend was that the article in the Olathe News came out on Saturday! We made page 6!! I think it was perfect timing because the rest of the paper had lots of articles about getting fit and healthy. It’s a bit weird reading about yourself, yet cool at the same time.



Sick Day

By Leesa Gabel

I stayed home from work today. At first is was because of my daughter, but a few hours after taking my chemo pill this morning, it turned into a day for me. The drug is in my system now and having some negative effects — mostly just nausea. I want to crawl back into bed and take a nap. I want to pull my cancer card and skip the 2 miles I’m supposed to walk today.

But I won’t.

Why? Because then the cancer wins and I’m not about to let that happen.

So how do I overcome — how do I get motivated? A good portion of the answer has to do with you reading this blog right now. The out-pouring of support and encouragement has been so overwhelming. All I need to do is read the comments left here and on our TNT donation page. Those are motivation enough. But I’ve also tried to adopt a new motto….it’s an oldie, but a goody….Failure Is Not An Option!!


Bonus points to the first person to tell me who first said that phrase and when.



Swimming Continued…

By Craig Gabel

I got in 1.2 miles tonight.  It was a bit tougher since I am up to 1000 yards straight (heading to a continuous mile). I did the same workout this past Monday as well. Monday’s first 1000 felt really good.  Then the follow up to round out the mile were a piece of cake.  After my mile swim I thought I’d get in some extra laps but stopped at the end of the lane for too long resting and all my left leg muscles cramped up like you wouldn’t believe.  WOW that was some pain coming on very quickly. I got out immediately and stretched on the deck for a while.  I was fine the rest of the day.  After Monday’s experience, I did a good amount of stretching before I got in the water so no leg cramps tonight.  :0)



Olathe News interview

By Craig Gabel