Why We Run: Tim and Susan (NYC2017)
In October 2015 I ran the Chicago Marathon with my wife, my sisters and my brother-in-law. I had run a few marathons so I was not worried but the same was not true of my siblings. After finishing in 4:05 I enjoyed the complimentary beer at the end of the race and anxiously awaited everyone else’s finish. Part of the motivation for this race was to support my brother-in-law, who was running to raise funds for Jack’s Fund, an organization which supports research for and awareness of melanoma, a very challenging form of skin cancer. It was quite ironic then that after getting a physical work up later that fall I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic melanoma.
For the past 3 1/2 years I have dealt with all sorts of maladies including recurring brain tumors that first required surgery and subsequently both targeted and whole brain radiation. My lungs, which is where things started, began to clear thanks to the cycle of immunotherapies I received. About half way through the cycle of immune therapy infusions my oncologist decided we should switch to oral medications. Since that time outside of a couple of side effects and the need for sleep I have been cancer free.
My eldest son, a PHD researcher at UCLA, investigated the modern day prognosis for metastatic melanoma and feels my treatment has been in line with the research he did. He even bought me a book written by Mary Elizabeth Williams who was a pioneer in early clinical trials for melanoma. Today I am a moderately healthy individual with no known cancer symptoms and I treat my condition as a chronic rather than fatal disease. I feel blessed that I was able to share my situation with my family and friends rather than live in fear of my condition. A special thanks to my wife, Susan, who has been my guardian angel and an absolute rock throughout this experience. As she always reminds me “We’re in this together” and we are, and I love her for what she has done to support me.
Tim Griffen and Susan Griffen (Chicago/NYC/Berlin 2017)