Sunday, June 28, 2009

Post Conquer Cancer Ride Summary – June 09

From Rona, Gavin's Sister

Hi to all the great supporters of our ride which took place June 13-14.
Wheezin 4 A Reason ( Rona Williams, Heather Williams-crew, Ed McMahon, Tamara Welbourn, Leanne Welbourn) would like to thank you for donating to our team because with a goal of $25,000.00 we raised more than $34,000.00!!! WHEREVER GAVIN IS, HE MUST BE AMAZED, he set the initial goal that we surpassed.

We rode proudly for him and with others in mind, Kyle McMillan, Tom Lawrence, Leanne’s friend John and also Joanne Stacey, last Saturday and Sunday coming into Niagara Falls without incident, just some sore body parts.

Starting at the Princess Gates in Toronto left us with mixed feelings of sorrow, happiness, reflection, pride and concern (are we gonna make it??? It’s HOW far? 220kms!).

Riding into the first pit stop we made a run for the portable toilets first and then to our crew member Heather, to say HI and refuel. Onward we went, passing many a roadside supporter with signs and cheers until we came into Burlington encountering more family support!

After many more kms back of Waterdown, through Dundas, down Sydenham Rd. which apparently has a reputation because “everyone knows Sydenham Rd”, except ME, but a thrilling downhill ride, until of course, and my theory proves right, “wherever there’s a DOWNHILL, there’s an UPHILL”. We make our way up to Mohawk College to have the BEST shower and the WORST sleep of the year in our little blue NOT soundproof tents. And yet, I wouldn’t have missed this experience for anything!

Then wake-up at 5:30 am, pancakes for breakfast and back on the road which, for the most part is flat and faster than day one. Then, we hit the second, more difficult (to some of us) HILL which we walked up with the other 90% of riders. Leanne, the youngest member and the MASTER of the mountains from training in Italy, burned up that Hamilton HILL (yes, I admit it, it’s NOT a mountain).

A beautiful ride across the escarpment looking east at the CN tower reminded us of how far we’d come. A couple more pit stops later, some “a535” and oreo cookies we finished in Niagara Falls, welcomed by countless people cheering as we crossed the finish line. It was truly overwhelming. And then the beer flowed.

If not for you and your generosity, helping us by donating so wonderfully, we reached the required minimum we needed to ride, and we couldn’t have done this without your help. I am quite emotional as I thank you and my teammates who, some of which are new at cycling (Tamara and Ed), who did a phenomenal job of riding THAT far! So please accept my heartfelt thanks and enjoy the pics.


Friday, June 26, 2009

June 22, 2007

June 22 was the two year anniversary of Tom's diagnosis. I really don't like using the word "anniversary" in this context. I know we have the anniversary of D Day and of 9-11 but I prefer "anniversary" to be a day of celebration like the anniversary of a birth or marriage. But for lack of a more complete vocabulary I am going with "anniversary".

Two years and several days ago Tom started complaining about not feeling right. He could not focus, he was having trouble typing and an email that should have taken 30 seconds to type was taking 10 minutes. We wrote it off to stress, or not sleeping well but finally Tom decided to go and see his primary physician about it. Dr. Reuben performed a few manual tests and determined Tom had "drifting." That is when one of your hands or arms moves on its own accord when you are not directly paying attention to it. So for example, you hold your coffee while reading the newspaper...and suddenly your hand has turned upside down and you are spilling. This is a sign of brain trouble.

Dr. Reuben sent Tom to Dr. Jones, a neurologist who did an MRI and within hours we knew Tom had a large tumor. It took days for us to figure out it was cancer and it was only after the surgery we knew it was GBM.

But two years ago on June 22 I got a call from Tom at work saying he had a golf ball sized tumor in his left parietal lobe and everything changed.

On June 22, 2009 I felt this was one of many chances I had to celebrate the life of Tom. After a yoga class Joanne, Donna, Hugh, and I spent a few minutes toasting Tom with a bottle of champagne. We shared a few memories of him and mostly wished he was with us.

I look at Tom's pictures every day, every hour. I celebrate his life and the way he approached the transition to his next life. And I am working really hard to get through each day. But I'll be darned if I don't keep forgetting he is dead and think it is his step in the hall or his car door slamming or him on the other end of the phone ringing.

It is not of course but the memory is strong and I remain so grateful for the years we had together.

Monday, June 15, 2009

GBM Cause and Effect?

During several summers during his college years, Tom worked on a crew at Arlington Stadium. This picture comes from a photo album published by the stadium in the "high school year book style". He is the one with the really long legs at a "jaunty" angle. Be sure and check out the 1975 outfits and hair cuts!

One day Tom fell out of the back of a slow moving truck landing on the back left side of his head. This resulted in a mild concussion and in a way I do not understand, ended up with Tom losing his sense of smell. He was back at work the next day, probably wearing even cleaner white pants and a wide belt.

The reason this is interesting is that there is a growing school of thought that believes many types of cancer, in particular brain cancer, is the result of direct impact or "location-specific assault". There are several small studies linking this cause and effect.

Tom's GBM first presented in a golf ball-sized tumor in the back left side of his brain.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Found Bookmark

A few days ago, on the four month anniversary of Tom's death to be exact, the following comment was posted to this blog from Aaron:
um...well I'm not really sure how to say this but, I checked out a book (technically a graphic novel) from the Austin Public Library yesterday. The book in question is the third volume of Buddha by Osamu Tezuka. As I was reading I found a bookmark that was left in the book. On one side is a photo of man on a plain or desert somewhere with mountains in the distance. On the far right it says 'In Remembrance of "Big Tom" Thomas James Lawrence October 10, 1956 - Eternity'. On the other side are several pictures of, i assume, Thomas along with what seems to be a Journal entry reading '6:00 AM The Idea that Keith Richards could survive me in death is so ironic to me - A bit twisted yes - but so sublime in the perfection of it all - humor me with this one - it's really funny -' and is cut off. One of the photos looks like the one you have with you at the thumb. I tried Googling Thomas name and a search for Big Tom actually got me to the page. Thought I'd leave this comment here and see if you knew about the missing bookmark.

Aaron and I have communicated back and forth and I am so amazed by Tom's reach -- now into a managa in the Austin Public Library. If you lost your bookmark or want to provide your comments on the book in question feel free.
Love Theresa