Saturday, January 21, 2012

John's Last Run

On Friday, January 20, John passed away peacefully surrounded by Karen and family. John survived 47 months after being diagnosed with multiple lesions of glioblastoma multiforme. He ran his cancer marathon with grace, courage, and an indomitable spirit that strengthened all who had the honor of knowing him. His extended family holds him in their hearts as one of their greatest teachers, proving that life is fragile and precious, and that love conquers all.

Shine on, John! Check out all the trails where you now journey so that when our paths once again cross, you can show us all the purest streams and mountain vistas.

Great run, John! We love you and carry your Olympic torch in our hearts.

Monday, January 16, 2012

John is peaceful and still hanging on. He is surrounded by many people who love him, is visited by many others. We are taking as good of care of him as is humanly possible. Laurie, Martha, Greg, Mary Anne, Paul, Lisa and I, Justin and Ashley, Sue, Kenny and Connie are also supporting Karen in the most difficult time of her life. The nursing staff at Stormont-Vail have been wonderful in the grace and compassion they extended to his family as well as to John. We are blessed to have them care for him. Especially Nicole & Piper who have taken the time to look after our needs as well as John's. They explain what and why they are doing something, ask for any special needs he might need . They are quick to reconginze and respond to every member of the family, even before we know what we need, as we learn to let John move on. Each of them have a story about a loved one who was at one point in need of the same tender care. Those story help explain why they do this kind of nursing. We are blessed to have people dedicated to the compasion & grace at end of life of someone else, it takes a special calling. Hug someone today and let them know how much they mean to you. We will hug John and let him know how much he means to so many.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this blog post today.

John is in ICU at the hospital right now.  He is on a trachea attached to a ventilator, and has been for 27 days.  It is so sad for us to see him.  On Friday, the machines will come off for good and John will find peace.

On December 12, 2011, John had hernia surgery.  The drug he was taking as part of a clinical trial from Duke, Avastin, had taken it's toll on John.  This drug is very hard on your upper GI, and as a result, a hernia surfaced.  The surgery went well, but John aspirated in the hospital the following Thursday morning.  He was taken to ICU and has been there ever since.  He has fought every infection one can contract in this setting.  Since his body was so compromised by the cancer treatment, there is nothing left to do.

Both John and Karen have fought this battle head on together.  As I sit by helplessly and watch, I see it as a testament to marriage, in sickness and in health till death due us part.  I am honored to be part of this family.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Hi guys,

Here is a link to get your very own John's Trophy Run t-shirt! It is a keeper and you too can be part of the team!

We can even send a copy of the team picture on race day!

Love, Martha

Monday, April 18, 2011

John's Second Wind

Dear followers of John's Trophy Run,

This past week, John has been to see Dr. Vredenburgh at the Tisch Brain Tumor Center. In February, right after Greg's post, John had a series of seizures. The first one was the big one but he had many smaller ones that ended with him spending several days in the hospital. Dr.V said it sent up some red flags, and that resulted in a visit to Duke.

Greg and I have been in Chapel Hill since February.  Greg is teaching at the charter school again. This provides us with an opportunity to share wonderful times with Nathan, Danielle, and grandson Noah.
Long story short, we were also here to help John and Karen get around Durham, give them an place to stay, and provide an opportunity for them to visit with the whole NC family. I am so thankful to be able to help in this way.

Nathan and Great Uncle John cheer as Noah catches the ball! Danielle captures the moment.

John had a MRI and PET scan at the Duke facilities and a follow-up appointment with Dr. Vredenburgh. The tests results showed a small tumor, about the size of the end of a pencil eraser, had started to grow. John has not had any treatment for the cancer in about 15 months. Needless to say, we were very disappointed with the test results. Dr. V. was positive and thought we could be successful in stopping the growth with chemo and avastin. Today he will begin a daily dose of Temador, the chemo drug, and tomorrow will have a 1/2 dose of avastin, the experimental drug, Dr. V. is using in his brain cancer study. If John tolerates the avastin for two rounds, they will bump it up next month. These two drugs were successful in John getting an "in remission" diagnosis the last time. You can bet, his family is hoping and praying for the same results this time as well.

The original John's Team in 2008!  Thanks so much to all of you!
 Danielle, our daughter-in-law, is organizing another go at the Angels Among Us 5K on April 30th in Durham. This will support the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke. She has been training like crazy and even talked me into running! We have "John's Team" with her parents, Nita and Larry Glickman, Nathan, Laura, Greg and I think her brother,Seth and fiance, Ellen Walker. For everyone except Greg,Laura and me, this is the second time they have been members of "John's Team". Would you consider donating to this cause that has helped John so much? Here is a link to the website. You can donate online, and every little bit helps.

We will try to keep the blog going to keep you updated on John's progress. Please keep Karen in your thoughts and prayers too, as being his care giver is a very hard job. Any cards or emails are most appreciated, too. John and Karen's new address is 3435 SW Urish Road, Topeka, KS. 66614.

Our family thanks you for your love and support of this next part of the run!! We are hoping that John's second wind kicks in very quickly.
love, Martha

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We Celebrate Victory This Day!

Hi all,
This is Greg, John's brother-in-law.

I've been reflecting upon all that has happened in the last three years since I started this blog about John's life and the rest of our lives, too. So, I decided that it is time to resurrect it.   This blog is, after all, a celebration of life, and there is much to celebrate today!

Yes, John is stilling running; He has crossed countless finish lines, some barely standing and some triumphantly. The longer the time on the stopwatch, however, the larger his and our trophy rises into the sky.  Stage 4 multiple Glioblastoma multiforme is a formidable foe, but it didn't stop John in the middle of his trophy run.

John's Trophy Run has been an incredible journey of perseverance, courage, faith, and a considerable scientific miracle.    After three years, he is finished with his experimental treatment and is in complete remission.... That's Cancer Free, sport fans!   How about that runner!

 John has weathered the ultimate storm, but he carries on with the same integrity and character as always.  He is full of life: always touching, sensing, tasting, feeling, and experiencing life to its fullest.  He is endlessly curious, always wanting to learn something new and share his phenomenal knowledge and awareness with anyone who wants to listen.  He has always carried a plethora of obscure sports, historical, musical, and trivial facts, and that has not changed a bit!

Cancer does change some things, however. Let's look how John met his ultimate challenge!

1)  He now is a grandfather of a beautiful baby boy.  Ashley and Dan are very proud to share their joy with John.  That nasty cancer almost didn't let him get to see little Roland, but now John grins from ear to ear when he talks about holding him in his arms. 

2) John  saw his nephew Michael marry the love of his life, Gracie, and he was in the groove dancing all night while his entire family tried to keep up with him!

3) John hiked the Yellowstone Valley and the Grand Tetons with his family near.  He saw the Grizzly and looked him straight in the eye!  I'll never forget the whole family gazing through the spotting scope as the National Geographic scene unfolded before our eyes!

4) John also has reserved seats on Southwest Airlines from MCI to RDU, and his faithful partner, friend, love, and wife Karen joined him in those "Group A" seats many, many times during their journeys to visit some of the most amazing doctors on Earth.  John....? He was just proud to introduce his new friend Dr. V. to his brother and sisters at the Tisch Brain Tumor Center on the campus of Duke University.

5) The experimental drug Avastin took its toll on John's cancer, but it affected John's healthy colon, too.  He struggled through a very painful perforated appendix one year ago.  When he recovered,  we all feared that the Avastin was the cause of thinning of the intestinal wall.  The drug that saved him was now killing him, so he had to say good bye to the very experimental monoclonal antibody that gave him a second chance at life.
We worried that the cancer would return, but it didn't.  We now know that most cancers return in the early months after the treatment has ended, and John is still cancer free, one full year after his cancer regimen!

6)  Before, throughout, and after John's ordeal, he continues to care deeply for those around him.  He still volunteers at his church and visits his children, grandchild, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, and all the "out-laws" whenever he can.

I could go on and on.  But two of the things that John has reinforced in all of us in the last three years is to "never give up no matter what", and to "grab onto life while you have it" with all the strength, knowledge, faith, and gratitude that you can muster.  He has reminded all of us poignantly that living is the greatest gift of all, and that one cannot give it up without a considerable fight.   He has been a true hero of a human being for all of us to emulate.

May we all grow old with you, brother John!  There is still much ground to cover!

We celebrate victory together this day! 

Take some time to go back to the beginning and reread this incredible story.  You will be sad at times, but you'll also be amazed, joyful, and deeply touched by the story of a remarkable family.  I guarantee it! 

Consider joining John's Team for their third Tisch Center Angels Among Us 5K on April 30, in Durham, North Carolina!  I'll be there, and I'll be running!