Saturday, December 18, 2010

Volunteer of the Year

This past week, I was honored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Rhode Island. They had their annual volunteer thank you ceremony. Myself and another individual were given the volunteer of the year award. It was a bit of a surreal experience. A fairly large crowd was present at the RI state house. The speakers were up a set of stairs overlooking the audience. The presenters gave long and in depth descriptions about the recipients of the rewards and all of the things they had contributed to the society.

My award was the second from the last. I had brought my family including my two daughters, wife, mother, and and mother-in-law. My girls kept wondering when I would be going up to accept the award. When it was finally my turn, it was a bit of an out-of-body experience to hear Bill Koconis (the executive director of the LLS) read a description about me and why they were giving me this award.

I have been an active fundraiser for the LLS for 5 years now and he noted that our team had raised over $75,000 for the society during that time. In addition, I had participated in their advocacy trip to Washington, DC several years ago and thus was seen as an ambassador for the society. He also mentioned this blog which I found interesting. As I write these posts, I never quite know who reads them.

When I went up to accept the award, I didn't quite realize how big the audience really was until I looked out. I don't mind public speaking, but this felt a little different. I had not prepared anything to say. I had a flashback to the Oscars for a moment. I started talking about how much I valued the society and why I chose to work hard to raise money for this organization.

As I looked out at my family, I saw them all crying. I became emotional myself. It was a touching moment. I also realized that it was one of the only times I had discussed my diagnosis in front of a live audience. My girls did not quite understand why I was crying, nor did I.

I left the event with mixed emotions. Every time I do something for the LLS, it is a reminder of my diagnosis that I am fortunately able to forget easily. Despite this, the organization is such a worthy one, that my own discomfort is worth it to keep them functioning to help find cures for blood cancers and support patients and families affected by these diseases.

In other news, I did receive another PCR test result from Molecular MD in Oregon. The results were again quite good. Although the scores from this lab are not undetectable, they are extremely low. It is quite likely that the same reading at Dana-Farber would have been undetectable due to the sensitivity of the test. Needless to say, I am plugging along.