I’m raising money for the Addario Lung Cancer Foundation in honor of my friend, Amy Paayfen Chang, who died of lung cancer this past July. Amy was not only a good friend, she was the wife of a close medical school classmate, and the daughter of a childhood friend of my father's. She is survived by her husband, three sons aged 8-16, and two sisters. As long as I can remember, Amy was always a beautiful, compassionate person who always cared more about everyone else around her and never stopped giving and helping others.
I first met Amy and (her later to be husband) Harrison in Taiwan 30 years ago, when we were all taking time off after college. We quickly became good friends, tooling around Taipei on their motor scooter. Harrison and I later went to medical school together, during which time I bore witness to their engagement, literally serenading them on my violin.
In early 2016, Amy was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer (non-small cell, EGFR-positive – a classic presentation among non-smoking Asian women of her age). Unfortunately, even the newest targeted drugs and experimental therapies could only buy her 30 months, and she succumbed to the disease earlier this year.
Some interesting things I learned about lung cancer while helping Amy in her struggle:
• Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide, and the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the US
• Lung cancer is not a disease of smoking: 15% of lung cancers are found in non-smokers. In fact, if lung cancer in non-smokers were considered a separate entity (which from a disease perspective it very much is), it would be among the top 10 fatal cancers in the US
• Of non-smokers who develop lung cancer, 2/3rds are women. Non-smoking Asian women in particular have a higher risk of lung cancer than other non-smokers
• The need for new lung cancer therapies remains high: 84% of lung cancer patients are metastatic at time of diagnosis, and their 5-year survival rate is a grim 5%
Most of you may know that I am an avid cyclist, but this will be my first attempt at a marathon – notably, at the same age as Amy was when she was first diagnosed. The Addario Lung Cancer Foundation is a Bay Area-based organization (local, for me) which has impressed me with their enthusiastic staff and unwavering commitment to supporting lung cancer research and patients. (Coincidentally, they are headquartered in San Carlos, CA – the same town in which Amy grew up.) Please join me in supporting to the Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and honoring Amy’s memory.
(If you'd prefer to donate by check or donor-advised fund, please send the check to the attention of Katie Wilcox, Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, 1100 Industrial Road #1, San Carlos, CA 94070. Include my name and "NY Marathon". Their tax ID# is 20-4417327.)
UPDATE: My Marathon Experience
Synopsis: 12 days before, I pulled a groin muscle. Instead of “tapering” my training for the marathon, I had to stop all exercise, cold turkey. The morning of the marathon, I had no idea how many miles I’d be able to run. At Mile 21, the combination of injury and muscle disuse led to massive leg cramps. I spent 20 min lying on the ground thinking I’d have to quit. But thanks to the generosity of two strangers who helped me with stretching and a bottle of water, I recovered and made it to the finish. Love the kind people of NY!
Day T-12: pulled a groin muscle doing a tempo run
Day T-9: ran 2 miles but groin muscle not feeling good
Day T-7: swam 1000 ft to try to stay in shape but muscle still not feeling right
Days T-6 to T-1: rested – what else could I do?
Day T-3: caught my flight from San Francisco to the East Coast. Not sure if I'd be able to run, but having raised $4300+ from friends and family, I have to try
Day 0: not having run in 9 days nor done any exercise in a week. I thought I would get through the first 2 miles, but it was anyone's guess if I'd be able to run any further
Mile 2: Verrazano bridge complete, groin muscle feeling tolerable
Mile 6 (Brooklyn): walked a little to preemptively give that muscle a rest. But wow it was tough to start running again
Mile 8: switched to a steady pace that worked for the muscle (sorry Maria, I couldn’t continue to match your pace!)
Mile 13.1: half-way there! Groin muscle no longer hurting because all the other leg muscles are starting to complain. More interspersed walking as I crossed the Pulaski bridge.
Mile 16: crossing the Queensboro bridge. Stopped for photos – might as well since I was walking as I approached the first vista point
Mile 17: hello to Steve, cheering us on!
Mile 21: while walking around the turn from 138th St in the Bronx onto 3rd Ave, I was brought down by massive leg cramps. I lay on the ground, but every time I tried to stretch one muscle, a different muscle cramped up. It was over – there was no way I could continue. But a good Samaritan bought me a bottle of water, and another helped me stretch. 20 minutes later, I slowly rise back up on my feet (cue Also Sprach Zarathrustra, a la Wall-E). I’m back on my feet and walking. Thank you kind people of NY!
Mile marker 21: 5.2 miles more to go. If I kept on walking, it would take 2 more hours! So I switched to a jog -- and fortunately the legs didn't cramp
Mile 22: across the Madison Ave bridge and “down” 5th Ave. Except it was really all uphill. Tough on the weary legs.
Mile 24: crossing over into Central Park, still holding the cramps at bay. I knew then that I would finish this thing, even if I had to crawl to the finish
Mile marker 25: home stretch – 1.2 miles to go. Picked up the pace with what little I had left
Mile marker 26; entered a full on “sprint” to get to the finish (ha! if you could call it that)
Many thanks to my wonderful wife Ellen for supporting this endeavor (escapade?) and my journey across the country to run in this race; Maria, my long-distance running partner who inspired me to choose the NY Marathon and served as my pace setter; Angie and Dan, who housed me on Staten Island and got us to the start; Chin-Chin and Campbell, who got me to Staten Island from the Marathon Expo; my sister and her husband, for housing me before and after the race; the runners of SJAC and MVARC for their company on training runs; the Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, for providing me with a spot to run in the marathon; and of course all my donors who contributed to the Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and gave me reason not to give up.
Donations are still being accepted and appreciated, so long as this page is up. Thanks for your support.