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Conquering the Hill

By Leesa Gabel

I was only in Washington DC for about 36 hours, yet it felt like much, much longer.

I arrived at Reagan International at 9:30am on Monday….caught the shuttle to my hotel and then the adventure began…..

Monday was spent in a conference put on by One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC) detailing the 5 points that were most important with regards to cancer fighting and the US budget. There were lots of facts and figures throw out….a bit overwhelming. During the breaks was the best part though….that’s when I got to hear the stories of the other attenders….hear their cancer connections. Not all were survivors…some where doctors, caregivers, family members of those who lost the fight. Every story was unique and inspirational.

I discovered during the planning portion that I was the only person representing KS. YIKES!!! I was hoping I wouldn’t be doing this alone. I knew that the ACS CAN delegate wouldn’t be there, but I was sure another organization would send someone. Nope. Just me. Me for the state with the slogan ‘bigger than you think’….

Monday evening was spent having fun….I attended the OVAC  reception and then on to dinner with the other LIVESTRONG Leaders. You know what I loved most about Crystal City?….I passed at least five coffee shops in a three-block radius.

I hit the ground running Tuesday morning….literally. My first meeting was at 9:30am. Thankfully, I went to Capitol Hill with a group because I’m not sure I would have found my way on the Metro by myself. It was raining….and my umbrella was safe and dry in Olathe. By the time I made it to Senator Jerry Moran’s office I was soaked.  Great first impression…. All-in-all, it was a good meeting. I just spoke from the heart and shared my story.

I had an hour before my next meeting with Senator Pat Roberts. I didn’t want to go back outside to the rain since Senator Robert’s office is in another building. What to do, what to do? Use the tunnels!!! There are tunnels connecting each of the three Senate buildings (the same for the House). So down to the basement I went. Guess what the first thing I see is when I get down there? A Starbucks!!! Seriously! Of course I just HAD to go buy a coffee!!

I did not meet with Senator Roberts, just his Health Legislative Aide….which is just as good because those people can be very influential. I had a special folder of information to leave at the end of each visit. I had plenty of time before my afternoon meeting with Representative Kevin Yoder so I stopped by all the other KS offices outside of my district to drop off the OVAC informational folder.

I LOVED walking the halls of Congress. I felt so empowered. I couldn’t stop smiling and every so often I’d catch myself on the verge of tears. I also enjoyed walking around outside….the buildings are just breathtakingly beautiful. I also saw democracy at work…..people holding a peaceful protest on the Capitol grounds.

I enjoyed lunch in the cafeteria under one of the House buildings. I made sure to avoid the elevator marked ‘Members Only’. During lunch, there was an alarm….I thought something was wrong….nope, it was just the signal to notify the members that it was time to go vote!!

The day just flew by….I was sad when all my meetings were over. It all just went so fast. I made my way back to Crystal City via the Metro….by myself! Then to the airport to catch my evening flight back to KC, but not before a quick stop in the gift shop….can’t return home to my kid’s empty-handed.

I hope I’ll be invited to OVAC again next year….until then I’ll continue my advocacy here at home…..



Almost there…

By Craig Gabel

Tahoe is just a little over a week away.  I am mentally and physically prepared for the challenge.  Fundraising is going well but I still need a final push to reach my personal goal of $5000.   Training is in taper mode so not too much physical stuff for the next week…I like that!  Leesa just wrapped up her trip to Washington DC on Monday and Tuesday of this week in which she participated in the One Voice Against Cancer lobby day on Capitol Hill.  As the lone representative from Kansas, she visited all the Kansas state representatives and both senators.  I am so proud of her.  She’s the real deal when it comes to being an advocate for cancer research.  She has been pretty well wiped out since she got back late Tuesday night.  This is a chemo week for her but next week she is off the juice as she calls it.  Then she just has one more two week round to complete in the latter part of June.  Then….God willing…she will be done with chemo for what we hope and pray to be a very long time.



Counting the days until Tahoe

By Craig Gabel

It’s getting close to packing up our stuff and heading west.  I absolutely loved our trip to Tahoe last year and cannot wait to get back out there.  This year the kids are coming with us.  We fly into San Francisco and will spend a couple days touring northern California’s historic cities and gold mines on our way to Tahoe.  The kids have never been past Colorado so this will be a fun time for them and us.  Not convertible Corvette this time around but we will have a convertible of some type.   Then it’s TNT weekend time.   Ya the Tour of California starts today riding most of the same route around the lake as we will ride but they don’t have our numbers.  On the first weekend in June, over 3000 cyclist from all over the country will converge on Lake Tahoe.  A vast majority of these cyclists will be Team in Training volunteers collectively raising well over 7 million dollars for cancer research.  Beat that Amgen TOC!  Okay, I being a little facetious.  The TOC rides to support cancer survivors worldwide.  It’s a great event to follow on the Versus channel if you have the time to catch it.  Stage one starting in about an hour will give you a perspective on America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride.  It a wonder all in its own but then you layer on the team mates and TNT support staff, the other cyclists, the spectators, the volunteers and most importantly the cause and it becomes a life altering event.  100 miles in the saddle…… Bring it!



The R Word

By Leesa Gabel

I’m saying the R word once again…..REMISSION!!! My treatment has been a success and there are no cancer cells in my body! The only downside is that I still have four weeks of taking the daily chemo pill, but knowing that the pills are working will make them much easier to swallow!

Treatment hasn’t been too bad. The first few days back on the pill are the hardest. Especially when I don’t have the anti-nausea meds to chase it with. Ick. But after the initial nausea subsides, the lack of energy takes over. I have to plan my day accordingly….get as much done in the morning before I crash and pray that the energy returns enough in the late afternoon (after a nap of course) to get dinner on the table and be active with my kids.

I know I’m luckier than most….and I try very hard to remember this. I also try to focus too much on the fact that remission could be fleeting, as it has been in the past. That’s the bad part of a chronic disease….you never know when it’ll come back. Which is why I’m working hard to help find a cure….I’m tired of treatment, I WANT A CURE!!!