Why I Run
I am currently training for my first half marathon (I have already ran 5 marathons so I decided to take a break ) with the HirshbergFoundation. If you told me 5 years ago that I would have ran the LA Marathon I would have laughed at you, I HATE RUNNING!!! My sister Taylor, who is my running partner/teammate, had been bugging me for a year or so to run a marathon with her and I kept telling her no. After shooting her down a dozen times she asked me again; however, this time she just sent me a link to the Hirshberg Training Teams Website and said “we have to do this for Opie”.
Opie was what we called our grandfather, Henk Verdries. We lost him to pancreatic cancer in 2011. He was very special to my sister and I and we were still struggling with moving on with life without him. As I clicked through the Hirshberg Foundation’s website I began to cry. When my grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer his doctor told him you need to go to UCLA because they are the best at treating pancreatic cancer. Opie was living in Spain at the time but was to sick to travel. It wasn’t till this moment reading about the Hirshberg Foudationand their support of the UCLA Pancreatic Cancer Center that I knew why his doctor told him to go there. Even though I knew running a marathon was going to be hard I knew I had to run to support this amazing organization.
While training for my first marathon I began to have a pain in my lower left side. After going to a few doctors with no relief, I was sent to have a CT scan of my abdomen. The pain ended up being nothing but the scan revealed that I had a cyst on my pancreas. This triggered two years of scans, tests, biopsies, etc. I was being sent back and forth to different doctors who could not answer my questions and kept telling me just to monitor the cyst to make sure it didn’t change. A few weeks before I was to run my second marathon I had a 5th biopsy of the cyst on my pancreas. This time the results were different. When I asked my doctor what the changes meant all he could tell me was that the fluid in the cyst was changing and that he just wanted to keep monitoring it. Luckily the following week I was attending the Hirshberg Training Team dinner at Agi Hirshberg’s home. While I was at the dinner I told Agi about what was going on and how concerned I was about the changes in my latest biopsy. She told me that I had nothing to worry about that she was going to introduce me to Amy Reiss, the patient coordinator, and she would provide me with information on who to see at UCLA to get all my questions answered.
The team at UCLA was amazing. During my first appointment it was finally explained to me that the changes in my cyst just meant that now it was considered a pre-cancerous cyst and that there were two forms of treatment. I could have it removed or I could continue to monitor it. Monitoring the cyst meant I would have to biopsy it every 6 months then after so many good results every 1 year so on and so on. This cyst could have never turned into cancer but after losing my grandfather I was very uneasy with having this thing in my body. July 7th, 2015 I had the cyst removed. I dont know what I would have done without Agi, Amy and the rest of the Hirshberg team. Not only did they put me in touch with the doctors at UCLA, Amy called me after every appointment to get an update, she visited me while I was in the hospital after surgery and continues to stay in touch.
I cant even begin to explain the gratitude I have for the Hirshberg Foundation, but I can run.
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