Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dear journal,

It doesn't pay to get over-confident or neglectful.

I was flying too high after the success of the "Make It A Great Day!" Race. Organizers like Heidi, the various pledges, and all the racers were so inspirational and uplifting. By then, I was also well along in my recovery from the bladder infection. I was looking forward to a fantastic summer.

But it wasn't to be. In early July, I came down with gout, despite all my vitamins, supplements, and (relatively) clean living. I must realize it is simply an occasional by-product of this affliction. Fortunately, this cleared just before a wonderful day-trip arranged by my friend Paul and his buddies to Citifield to see the Mets pull off a wonderful comeback, extra-inning victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. I concluded that neither team, however, was nearly strong enough to make the playoffs or World Series. So much for MY judgment.

Then, on Tuesday, August 2, I began to feel pressure in my chest. I'd been there before. And so, I scheduled an immediate doctor appointment, and expressed my concern. Might another case of pneumonia be on the way? Would I be able to head it off?

I was placed on medication immediately and hunkered down, hoping that this pro-active approach would work. It didn't.

By Wednesday night, I was in the hospital, gasping for air, my temperature sky-rocketing. I was given respiratory therapy, blasted with antibiotics, and x-rayed. I spent my first-ever night in the hospital since my humble birth in 1951. I was unable to adequately breathe, or get any sleep. I did not want to be there.

Late the next day, I had marginally improved, and I begged to be sent home. The doctor agreed. But within a day, my temperature had once again spiked, and I packed my bag for a return visit to the hospital. Before leaving, however, I temporarily increased my dose of ibuprophen, and then awaited the results. Luckily, temp readings slowly began to decline, and the mad drive to the hospital was cancelled.

However, trials and tribulations were not yet ended. I was forced to "sleep" in my easy chair for the next two weeks, as I was unable to breathe while lying down without gagging. All activities were curtailed, and I slowly nursed myself back into recovery mode. It took forever. By mid-September, I was breathing normally, though quite winded and weak.

By this time, I was at least able to join in some wonderful activities. My brother and sister-in-law came into town for a week's visit. We attended and enjoyed a huge family reunion on Saturday, September 17. Then our friends from England, Lyn and Steve, arrived for a two-week stay and tour of the Great Northeast. It helped revive me to see them all. Memorable times!

Recent x-rays have shown that my pneumonia has completely disappeared. At this writing, however, I am thoroughly exhausted, unsteady, and almost unable to move. I have gained a few pounds, have failed to adequately watch my nutrition, and am not exercising or sleeping at all well.

I realize I must turn all this around. The doctors have done their part. It is now up to me. The coming weeks will be telling.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Last week I wrote about Kathy Giusti, the business executive who made a turn in life to focus her substantial talents on raising funds for the fight against the blood cancers. That so many cancer victims are still alive today is testament to her devotion and talents.

New York's Capital Region has its own version of Kathy Giusti. Last week, she used her incredible drive and skills to make her own contribution in the battle against cancer.

On Saturday, June 4, the "Make It A Great Day" Race raised over $8000 for the Capital District Cancer Resource Foundation, a fund that provides financial assistance to those locals who lack the full resources to win the fight against cancer. Some 80 or so runners took advantage of perfect weather and wonderful countryside to run a half-marathon, and seek pledges for the CDCRF. Those who prefer to stroll rather than run added to the CDCRF coffers by walking a mile. It was a phenomenal success.

Many volunteers, too many to name, contributed their efforts to this event, and have won our thanks. But one name was responsible for it all.

If there is such a thing as a cancer fund-raiser Hall of Fame, we must now add the name of Heidi Bentley Barcomb.

Heidi used her contacts, skills, drive, and devotion to organize this event and make it a success. She proved herself to be a one-woman tornado. A neophyte like me has no idea what it takes to assemble an event such as this. It never occurred to me at the start of planning that we would need a race route, timers, T-shirts, sponsors, banners, forms, charts, tables, road signs and cones, ditty bags, water stations, police coverage, an Internet presence, staff, magnets, pencils, prizes, music, microphones, local support, adverts, furniture, etc, etc, etc. I realize now that it is a monumental undertaking.

And Heidi pulled it off. It was a phenomenal success.

And so I offer my enthusiastic congratulations to her. I know she is already planning for next year's event, with ideas to make it bigger and better, if such a thing is possible. I also offer my thanks to the army of volunteers who helped to make it work. Finally, I want to express my admiration for and congratulations to the winners of the race, Peter Zimmons and Kristin Grab. You made it look too easy!

And stay tuned to Heidi's foundation, More is yet to come, if I know Heidi.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

In 1998, Kathy Giusti was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. At age 37, she was the young mother of an 18-month old daughter who now faced the tragic loss of a parent afflicted with a possibly-terminal blood cancer. A family disaster was in the offing.

Kathy reacted at first like many another young parent. Afraid that her new daughter would never know or remember her, she began to take steps to preserve her story for her child's future. As many of us would, she wanted to be able to speak to her daughter after her death.

But Kathy Giusti was not just any young mother, cringing in fear. She was, in fact, a high-flying business executive who had served as a powerful business leader, including a stint at drug-maker Searle as head of its arthritis division. As such, she quickly went to work.

Kathy created the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, an organization designed to raise money for research and contribute to efforts to find treatments for this terrible affliction. Using her name and skills, Kathy generated a stunning $165 million in funds. Later, in 2004, she created the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium, an agency designed to encourage researchers to work collectively with business in such a way that would optimize the speedy development of new treatments.

Kathy still lives today. She is in remission, and has made it possible for her children to get to know her. Through her work, she saved herself, and tens of thousands like her, including this writer.

Kathy's efforts have obviously paid off. She is directly responsible for four new drugs. What's more, she has furthered the model for clinical research and development, paving the way for dozens of other similar efforts. Genomics, data management, tissue banking, and clinical trials have all been advanced by her work.

As you can imagine, multiple myeloma sufferers all owe Kathy Giusti, and hold her in the highest regard. And the nation has honored her as well. She has been recognized for her work by the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, CNBC, the NBC Nightly News, the CBS Evening News, and Time, being named by that august publication as a member of the Time 100 for 2011. She has received the Harvard Business School Entrepreneurial Award, the Partners in Progress Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the Centennial Medal for Distinguished Public Service from the American Association for Cancer Research.

And her work is not done. Today, she serves at the Institute of Medicine on the National Cancer Policy board, having been appointed to that post by President Bush in 2003. In addition, she is a member of the Board of Directors for IMS Health, an international company that supplies the pharmaceutical industry with sales data and consulting services. And she continues to pressure the FDA to optimize the development and approval of effective new medicines.

Thus, in her effort to leave a legacy for her children, she has left one also for cancer sufferers everywhere, including me.

Readers can do their own part to continue the work of Kathy Giusti. Please contribute to the upcoming "Make It A Great Day" Race, a walk and half-marathon to be held in Center Brunswick, NY, starting at Tamarac MS/HS, on Saturday, June 4, 2011, sponsored by Your donations benefit the Capital District Cancer Resource Foundation, an organization which helps make it possible for less-advantaged denizens of New York's capital region to take advantage of the advances in cancer treatment. In so doing, you'll help give cancer patients a chance to get to know their own families.

And, in your own way, you'll mirror the efforts of Kathy Giusti, a modern-day miracle worker.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

As I compose this message, I am sitting in a motel room at the Best Western Fireside Inn along Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California. This incredible hamlet, with its maze of rustic boardwalks serving as a “cliff stroll” more beautiful even than the one in Newport, Rhode Island, plus its plethora of quaint shops lining the street, lies about half-a-dozen miles south of San Simeon and the Hearst Castle. You’re missing something if you choose not to come here.

Bride and I are here because of the new role that the notion of family now plays in our lives. It’s been a year now since my diagnosis and the commencement of my treatment, and like anyone who faces an event of that import, we’ve experienced an adjustment in our priorities and attitudes. Retirement has presented us the opportunity to reconnect with relatives and friends, and so we made a recent decision to trek to the west coast to visit with Donna’s niece, her husband, and her sons, as well as with my aunt, uncle, and cousin, all people who mean a lot to us. As they always say, life is short.

There are some perks that accompany a “relative quest.” The train ride from Albany to Chicago to Los Angeles to San Clemente was a first for us, and quite an experience. Overnight train travel can be arduous. Our first berth was, for instance, extremely claustrophobic and uncomfortable, and I wondered at first if we had made a mistake. However, the next room, acquired after a train change in Chicago, was a significant improvement, and we enjoyed the scenery out the window, especially the elk in the Rockies that were racing the train through the falling snow.

Our niece lives in a beautiful home in San Juan Capistrano, seconds from the beach. The weather was unseasonably warm and the sun ever-present, making our tour of the famed mission there quite a stunning experience. The gardens are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. We saw one swallow, and lots of history. Later we had an exquisite dinner with drinks on the Fisherman Dock (which shook with each crashing wave), toured a luxury home high on a cliff above the ocean, and spied Casa Pacifica a short distance away, the former estate of Richard Nixon.

Speaking of presidents, we toured the Nixon Library and birthplace, nestled in a residential neighborhood in nearby Yorba Linda. The visit definitely gave me a new, more sympathetic impression of the man. I was photographed at his graveside, and got to listen to the famed 18 minute gap in a Watergate tape, with its notorious 9 clicks, all part of a display in the museum there. Two days later, we visited the massive Reagan Library, high on a mountain above the Simi Valley, north of Los Angeles. The views must equal Grand Canyon in grandeur, and the entire installation is awe-inspiring. Visitors can tour the Reagan-era Air Force One, nestled on pylons in an enormous hanger there, step into an exact replica of the Oval Office, and experience, in one display, what it must have been like to have been, on that famous March 1981 day, in the center of the assassination attempt on the President. If you come, expect to be over-whelmed. And for those who accuse this monument to be typical conservative Republican bloviation, I want to point out that one of its trustees, his name one of many I noted to be carved in marble in the lobby, serves as President Obama’s top economic advisor.

Tomorrow, we will visit the renowned Hearst Castle, built by the mercurial William Randolph Hearst, the famed newspaper tycoon, having this afternoon driven many miles north along the famous Pacific Coast Highway, its reputation for spectacular natural beauty well deserved. Later in the week, I join my brother and his wife for a visit to my treasured uncle, aunt, and cousin near San Francisco, before boarding Amtrak once again for the return trip home.

I feel like I’m making full use of the new life given me. I know I’m a lucky man.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I was stunned yesterday by something unusual that occurred.

I took a few minutes during lunch to spin my radio dial, and happened upon the Rush Limbaugh Show.

I'm well aware that the arch-conservative talk radio host has a perhaps well-earned reputation as abusive, divisive, heartless, and reactionary.

Yesterday I found that there is another side to the man.

Once a year, Rush converts his entire three-hour show into a radiothon to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The fight against blood cancers is one of his greatest causes. Friday, April 15 was this year's day.

I learned for the first time that there is a lot of compassion and devotion in the man. His huge, nation-wide Excellence-in-Broadcasting (EIB) network has been raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since 1989. Last year alone, his show collected $3 million. Just to prove that he is not all talk, it's been said that he personally has donated up to $400,000-$500,000 some years. I know he can afford it, but he didn't have to. Even sadder, while his critics are very quick to find fault with Limbaugh, his work on causes like this never get mentioned.

As a result, I must admit that this is all an enormous surprise to me, and, I imagine, to almost everyone else.

Using contributions like those from EIB's "Cure-a-thon", the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has helped lead the battle in blood cancer studies. For example, research for the chemotherapy drug Velcade, introduced in 2008 and critical in my remission, was funded in part by Rush and the Leukemia Society. It's apparent I owe Mr. Limbaugh, and those like him, an awful lot.

So do many people. Half-a-million Americans are now diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 154,000 likewise have learned that they are afflicted by Hodgkin's. 70,000, like me, suffer from myeloma, cancer of the bone marrow and blood. Fifteen Americans are diagnosed with multiple myeloma every hour. Six die.

Has all this research and funding helped? You better believe it. The five-year cancer survival rate was just 13% in the 1960's. It's now 39%. In the late 1970's, the five year survival rate for leukemia was 39%. In 2011, it is 55%. During the same time, the long-term survival rate for childhood leukemia is up 89%! Prior to the introduction of Velcade, patients could expect to survive for three years. Today, because of that miracle medication, it is ten years. Of the 39 new anti-cancer drugs approved by the FDA since the year 2000, half of them were for the fight against blood cancers.

There are cynics out there who will fault Limbaugh or the Leukemia Society for not doing more to fight ALL cancers. In a way, I can't blame them. Each of us knows someone for whom we are vitally concerned and wish to see saved. But no one can spread themselves so thin as to be able to battle every one of the world's causes. What's more, the research used to fight the blood cancers has led to breakthroughs in other cancers. Five of those drugs developed since 2000 are now being used to treat non-blood cancers, and 14 others are being tested against solid-tumor cancers, four of which are breast cancer. One can never predict where such research might lead.

I will fully admit my surprise in all this. I learned that even now I can be too quick to judge and criticize. What's more, such generosity can become contagious. In the course of yesterday's show, Donald Trump went live on the air to contribute $100,000. He has earned more of my esteem as well.

Each of us can do the same, albeit in our own limited way. I encourage you to join the "Make It A Great Day" Race, the half-marathon and walk now scheduled for Saturday, June 4, 2011, to start at the Tamarac campus in Brunswick, NY. You can now enroll or make your pledge on line at These funds will be donated to the Capital District Cancer Resource Foundation, a regional charity that helps local residents lacking full resources to win the battle against their cancers.

You'd be surprising yourself, as I did, by sharing a cause with Rush and the Donald.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

In Memory of

Geraldine Ferraro

NY Congresswoman and 1984 candidate for Vice President

Multiple Myeloma patient

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Go Out and Make it a Great Day!" Race Donation Information

Dear Friends and Family,

The Dragonfly Adventure Organization now has the ability to fundraise for Ed Peck’s “Go Out and Make it a Great Day!” ½ marathon and walk through

People may donate to the main page at:

Or, you can start your own fundraising page by clicking "become a
fundraiser" at the top of that page.

Either way, Active will track the fundraising efforts, and send
confirmation emails to Heidi Bentley Barcomb (marathon organizer) and the owner of each additional page, for each donation received.

Please join us for this important fundraising event. During Ed’s Doctor visits and chemotherapy, he witnessed many patients needing financial assistance for their treatment. The money raised stays in the Capital District to help these patients.

Please join us on Saturday June 4th at Tamarac School for the race.
9:00 am – Half Marathon ($40.00 registration fee and tech race shirt)
10:00 am – Community Walk (Free race t-shirt for raising $50.00 or more)

The race website is;
(Registration form and race information)

If you are unable to attend the race/walk and wish to make a donation, please log on to my donation page at:

Thanks so much to all of you over the past year for all your kind words, support, prayers, help, and love. You are forever appreciated!

Love, Donna and Ed