One More Day … and Dealing with Nerves!

Blogs can be informative, blogs can be educational and blogs can also be good for the soul.

But tonight for me, this blog is my solution for insomnia and an avenue to calm some nerves!!!

Tomorrow am I leave St Louis to meet Parker.  I am extremely excited – but also nervous – about meeting Parker for the first time. Not sure why….little P-Man is all of five-years-old!! I get facing a few nerves about an interview or a first date…but a five-year-old!!!

Perhaps I’m a bit intimidated by his dating prowess, envious of his mad skilz with his crayolas or fear of the strides he’s making with his running – 1.75 miles in two days during his last hospital visit. (Detailed in Mike’s blog post: Celebrating the Good and Fearing the Unknown.)

All valid reasons to be nervous, but most likely, it’s just that I hope he likes me.

I think he will, but just in case, I have a secret back up plan. I am prepared. I am bringing toys.Yes, TOYS! In my mind, the best way to a five-year-old’s heart is through toys, specifically as I have learned from Mike and Erica … LEGOS! I will also be wearing my PARKER shirt.  I will also have gifts for Harrison and Madeleine that I think they will like.

It’s hard to believe that this whole project started just two months ago. It’s incredible how connected you can become in such a short period of time. I am also amazed at how closer I am to some people who have joined us on this race and how many new friends I have met through sharing Parker’s story and running /blogging on his behalf.

While writing this blog, I received a message from Erica a few minutes ago. She wrote to me on Facebook:

“When I told him (Parker) it was time for bed tonight he started to cry. He said he didn’t want to go to bed cuz he was gonna miss you! I told him u were coming in the morning. He said “Oh, I thought he was coming tonight!”

So maybe he is as excited to meet me as I am to meet him.

Nerves suddenly seem to have diminished, replaced by more anticipation. I do know that I’ll text Mike when I land in Detroit, Mike will pick me up ~9:30am and we will be eating lunch at Parker’s favorite pizza place.

Oh, and I know tomorrow will go well and can’t wait to share it with everyone!!

And I think I can sleep now.

(Thanks “52.4 in 48” blog page … I appreciate you being there tonight!!!)



Merry Christmas and The Wish List

It’s Christmas Day – a day in which many wishes and dreams have some true. This is a blog about wishes – some that have come true; others that will very soon…..

One of my Christmas wishes was to meet Parker – which will come true on Thursday, Dec 29th!  Last week I booked a flight from St. Louis, where I am spending part of my Christmas to Detroit where Parker and his family live. I will spend most of the day with them as I land at 9:15am and depart at 5:30. Parker’s dad, my cousin Mike, has vacation that day which will allow us to spend the day together. Mike and I agreed it would be best to do it now, prior to Parker’s next round of Chemo treatments that start on January 4th. (Details of Parker’s progress click here)

For Christmas, Parker wished for some Batman clothes, which he received and has spent the entire day in his Batman PJs!!! For Christmas, niece #1, Sydney, wished for a camera and niece #2, Kylie, wished for a trumpet. For better or worse, 🙂 both wishes came true! Sydney has been taking photos of everything in sight and Kylie is trumpeting “The Christmas March” as I type..for the third time (she knows two Christmas songs)!!!


In early November as part of the “52.4 in 48” project, I talked to Mike about the wishes (and needs) for Parker and his family. I felt it was important to understand everyone’s wishes .. including Parker’s older brother and sister, Harrison and Madeleine. As you can imagine coming up with a specific list of wishes is not easy to do, especially for Mike and Erica, who are both incredibly humble and don’t want to ask for much. Mike finally pulled everyone together for a family meeting, shared the project with them and asked everyone to come up with a few things they wished for.

Parker’s wishes are typical of any regular five-year-old! Harrison and Madeleine’s Wish List’s were mostly made up of ways to spend TIME with their mom, dad and friends. Mike and Erica shared items that would alleviate some stress and pressure, especially as Erica has stopped working to care for Parker as he battles Leukemia

This is a recap of their “Wish List”:

– Lego Sets
– Nintendo DS Games (great for long days at the clinic)
– Trip to Disneyland or Legoland

– Time spent doing things with just Mom and Dad
– Time at a Lions Football game with just Dad
– Go to Zap Zone in Taylor, Michigan (Laser Tag party with his friends). Mike told me Harrison said, “Being with my friends helps me when I feel lonely”.

– Time Clothing Shopping day out with just Mom (She likes Aeropostale & Justice)
– Go to a Tigers game with just Mom and Dad
– iTunes gift cards
– Have a manicure party with her friends

Erica and Mike–                                                                                                                 – Help financially with medical expenses for Parker
– Provide a cushion for unexpected expenses that arise from supporting a family with a single family income.
– Snow Removal – (something that “keeps Mike up at night” and would free up time and worry)
– Date night with Erica (they don’t have these much anymore due to finances and time)
Madeleine’s Summer Camp
Erica and sister go out for a day at a spa (Erica’s sister, Amanda, watched Harrison and Madeleine for weeks when Parker was initially diagnosed)
– Kids orthodontic braces


I have been AMAZED by (and totally appreciative of) everyone’s generosity and support for Parker and the Shanton’s. I am excited to match 1:1 the donations that were pledged/mile of my races. In addition to meeting Parker, Harrison and Madeleine, I will be presenting Mike and Erica with the final donation amount that WE ALL HAVE MADE POSSIBLE!!!  🙂

I just wish EVERYONE of you could be there with me!!!

It has been a very special day – an early morning unwrapping every present under the tree by 10:00 am, a light afternoon run (in shorts and short sleeved shirt nonetheless!) followed by an amazing dinner and pumpkin pie for desert. There’s a fire in the fireplace and The Grinch is on in the background. The two dogs are starting to slow down and the Outlaw Clan are all reading and relaxing. It’s been a perfect day…as Kylie plays yet another round of “Jingle Bells” on her new trumpet.

A very good Christmas indeed.

My First “Virtual” 10K Race

Yesterday was a great day. I booked a flight for next Thursday, Dec. 29th, to Detroit to meet Parker!!  I cannot wait and will blog more about it next week.  I also ran in my first “Virtual” Holiday 10K with over 250 people I don’t know and with one person I do know who Finished Strong with me today, completing 23 consecutive days of running and logging ~149 Miles!!

Ashley Rudolph Diamond and I worked together at P&G. She lives in NY now and is an accomplished blogger ( and avid runner. She helped create the Virtual 10k.

As she said in her recent blog post, Home for the Holidays Virtual 10K:

“Now that 2011 is about to close and we are rushing home or to friends and families for the holidays, we wanted one last chance to enjoy that Runner’s High before we said our official goodbye to 2011.  I don’t know about you, but in our areas there were not many options for races this weekend.  People are BUSY!  It is Christmas and Hanukkah this week, so we get it.  That is why all the holiday races were previous weeks.  But we wanted MORE!!”  Plus, what better way to burn off some holiday stressors and a few of those extra cookies than kicking out a 10K with some of your closest friends and bloggers!!

After a few Twitter messages, she met some new friends and together created the “Home for the Holidays” Virtual 10k. Its a simple concept: instead of actually going to a designated area to an official race, you get to do it on your own time (within a certain deadline) and at your own place.  Ashley and her friends organized it all and all we had to do was just to run a 10K race and report back – tell them how it went, send in funny stories, pictures, whatever.  You can get friends to do it with you in person or just rock it on your treadmill. Whatever works, anything goes!  Holidays are stressful and crazy.  This is supposed to be fun, healthy, and enjoyable!!! As of yesterday over 250 people has “registered” to race sometime from Friday to Monday.

Megan Folkerth and I joined the virtual 10K and were among the first to race by meeting up this morning. Megan is fast, having set a Personal Record in the Indianapolis Marathon and qualified for Boston, and she is also crazy (in a good way). She joined a small group of runners doing the “Running Advent”. You start on December 1st and run every day until December 23rd.  You add 1 mile each day until you reach 12 miles on December 12th then work your way back down to 1 mile! When all is said and done, it works out to 144 miles in 23 days. Today was a big deal for her. This would be the last day and last mile of her month-long run!! See all the details here on her blog:

We took off from Awakenings Coffee Shop on Hyde Park Square and before we knew it, we had run one mile. Megan had completed her running Advent!!!!








We “celebrated” her victory with a few photos and a high five, then continued our race.  The balance of the 5.2 miles went really fast – perhaps because we talked the entire time!!!! Before we knew it we were Finishing Strong for Parker in the last half mile.

As luck would have it, we ran into Santa Claus earlier at the coffee shop, and he invited us to sit on his sleigh and get some photos after our race outside the retail Hyde Park footwear shop, Head over Heels.






Megan and I had our Parker shirts and an extra for the Holiday tin man prop I brought from my house.  It was a perfect way to end our “Home for the Holidays 10k” and close out Megan’s Running Advent!





Tisha Way was going to join us but did not feel well in the morning. So in the spirit of our virtual race, this is where she would have been, virtually, if she has been with us! Even Santa missed you….Get well Tisha!!!

It will be fun to follow the other runners over the next three days on Ashley’s blog as they race their 10k.

I returned to Awakenings and met with a friend for coffee. I even ordered a few extra cookies, with not one bit of guilt!!  Happy Christmas Eve!!!

Celebrating the Good and Fearing the Unknown


Those were the first two words Parker shouted after he was disconnected from his port on Monday afternoon.  At 1:00 pm his blood level reached the targeted level and he was allowed to go home!! It had been a good treatment phase.

I thought this would be a good place to give a snapshot of where Parker is in his ALL Leukemia treatment schedule as we understand it. *** We know it’s about 3.5 years but doctors seem to keep it all a bit vague, perhaps to allow for setbacks along the way or not setting up false hope. It is not a strict schedule as there are so many conditions and factors that can influence his treatments.

As of this week, we do know that Parker just finished up his 3rd phase of an eight phase treatment process.  The entire eight phases will take ~3.5 years to complete and we are currently in month six. This third phase, which we have been able to share with you through this blog, consisted of two spinal taps (where chemo is injected into his spine to destroy any cancer around the brain) and four hospital admissions to receive the 24 hour chemo treatment through the port in his chest.  We would then wait for it to clear from his system (it usually took five days after each admission).  Finally, this phase also included 56 days of another chemo administered by mouth.

Apparently 7 laps and 3 sprints = 1.02 miles (as measured by Google Earth)

On a very positive note, the third phase of 24 hour chemos did not affect him as they did in the previous two phases. This was a great answer to prayer because during this 3rd phase he was very active and his hair even started to grow back. It was very evident how he has felt based on his “running of laps” around the unit during the 4th and final 24hr treatment.  Tracey may have done “52.4 in 48”, but Parker ran is own back-to-back “In Hospital Marathon”. One day he “ran” 3/4 of a mile. But he wanted to “do more” so the next day he proceeded to do laps totaling over a mile!!

After Parker completed his mile, I couldn’t help but think of a picture I took of him during one of his initial admissions.  21 days after Parker was diagnosed, he had just completed a surgery to remove a port that had been put in four days earlier. The port didn’t work; it became infected under his skin and hurt him terribly, so they had to remove it.  After the surgery to remove it, the nurses encouraged us to get him up and walk….This is what he looked like… he cried and barely walked the whole way (about 50 ft).

21 days after diagnosis – Parker just finished having an infected port removed from his chest and he could barely walk due to the pain.

In early January, we will be moving into the fourth phase.  Based on what we know, it will probably not be as “easy” on him as the third phase.  It is scheduled to start on January 4th and he will be receiving multiple chemos that he has already had separately during the first and second phases.  During these two phases, the associated chemos destroyed the rapidly developing cells which caused his hair to fall out and his stomach to be constantly upset. During a two week period in phase two, he threw up about 20 times.  So we are not expecting him to feel good during phase four.  There is another piece of stage four that will be a little different than the others.  At the same time he gets his chemo, he will also be getting steroids to boost the function of his organs which will be stressed more than ever before.

So as of right now, it’s all up in the air and there are lots of unknowns.  Will stage four be like the difficult stage two or easier like stage three? What will the steroids do?  Will he stay “on schedule”?   We don’t know…..

So instead of focusing on what we don’t know, we will try to focus on what we do know. We know we will have strength through prayer. We know we will be comforted from so many people we know and many more we don’t know who are now “in our corner”. Thank you !!  We know we will be able to spend Christmas together as a family. And we know we have a very amazing five-year-old who will embrace this as he has the previous stages with strength and a positive attitude. And Parker knows “Pup” and Henry the dalmatian, and all of us, will be right there with him.

God Bless.

Mike and Erica.

Road ID and Another Important Lesson Learned

“Expect the best, Prepare for the worst”.

Well, I experienced the worst first-hand and, unfortunately, was not prepared. After reading this, you will be!

In April, a group of us from Cincinnati traveled to Nashville to run in the Rock and Roll Marathon. Our group consisted of Dan O’Keeffe, Tammy Riddle, Mick Flynn, John and Sarah Koch, Tim Burke  and yours truly.  Ashley Davis, Katie Wetzel, Christine Mamone and their moms also made the trip. We were all looking forward to a great run and the party to follow in Nashville!

I had been in Phoenix for meetings the week leading up to the race, running lightly but in hot dry conditions. I had not slept great either – typical for being in a hotel for four days in a row. I  flew into Nashville Friday afternoon for the Sat am race.

I ran with Heather Lueke and although It was more humid  and hotter than expected, I felt fine until about mile 15. The water stops were positioned in an inconsistent manner – leaving about five miles at one point between stops. I thought I had been taking in enough liquids, but started to feel thirsty and a bit weak. Heather was strong and ran ahead. By mile 18 I felt chills but continued on, fighting through it, taking walk breaks and getting as much water into my system as possible. For those who have done distance running or any athletic sport requiring endurance, you know by the time you feel like you NEED water, it’s too late.  Your body is already compensating for the loss. Dehydration and the dramatic change in weather temps, altitude traveling, lack of sleep, contributed to what happened next as I pressed on.

I remember seeing the mile 23 marker, then nothing;  I had completely blacked out!  The next thing I could remember was sitting on a bench, surrounded by people putting bags of ice on me, trying to cool my body temperature.  I thought I had been hit by a car.  I was confused. I couldn’t remember where I was or what I had been doing.  I do remember moving my toes and fingers and being thankful I was not paralyzed, but mentally, I knew something was very, very wrong. My thoughts were racing, but I couldn’t put two words together.  After an ambulance ride to the Nashville General Hospital, I was admitted into the ER and immediately given the first of five bags of IV fluids. The nurses needed a contact number to let family/friends  know where I was. For two hours I couldn’t remember anyone’s last names much less phone numbers.  I couldn’t even remember the numbers “3617” in my address. I finally remembered Katie’s last name and the hotel we were in so the nurses were able to reach out to them, letting them know where I was.  At some point, a nurse explained that it was not a car accident but severe dehydration. I have never been more releived to know that I would bounce back and resigned myself to spend the night being monitored in the ICU as a precaution. There would be no live country music or post-race celebration for me!

I rested, recovered and have never been more grateful for the outcome being far less tragic than I had initially feared. In the week after the race, I chose to get a complete EKG and was happy to receive a clean bill of health!!

(Note I chose to share this story AFTER my back-to-back Marathons!!) YOU ARE WELCOME!!!  🙂

The point of sharing this story is that I was lucky and much of the concern could have been alleviated had I been better prepared. The best solutions: Listen to your body and get a Road ID.

If you are a runner, cyclist, triathlete or just a person who doesn’t sit on the couch all day, Road ID is for you. This awesome piece of gear that could save your life. In the event of an accident, if you can’t speak for yourself, your Road ID will. It’s available in six different styles. I saw Lisa Zangara had one on in a photo I posted of her in yesterday’s, See Who was Inspired by PARKER Today. Did you notice it?

One month after my Nashville disaster, I ran the Deadwood, South Dakota Trail Marathon.  I has VERY happy to have Tim Burke take this photo of me AFTER the race sitting ON the City of Deadwood Ambulance instead of riding IN it!!!A few lessons learned:

  • Listen to your body. I had all the signs that this was just not my race. It would have been fine to stop. There will always be another race, another day.
  • I have some pretty amazing friends! Everyone in our group came to the hospital to check on me and keep me company.
  • FIll out Emergency Information. In a race, the entry bib numbers have a space for emergency contacts on the back. It takes a minute to fill out… so “Just Do IT!”
  • Get a Road ID: It’s easy and inexpensive investment in peace of mind…for you and family and friends. Whether a marathon or just a fun run, bike ride, or any physical activity, this is a great way to be prepared.

The owners of Road ID have been gracious to also provide a special coupon code in Parker’s name just in time for Christmas!! Go to the website here Choose your ID, customize it, check out with your Promo ID: RID9407943PARKER  (Promo code good $1.00 off through January 1). THAT’S IT! You can find more information from Road ID on their website @ Road ID or “friend” them on Facebook @

May it be the best Christmas gift you or a loved one never have to use.

See who was Inspired by PARKER Today

Lisa Zangara continues to race …. and keep her word.  I blogged about Lisa in my post, Thanksgiving 10k – The Power of One and of Many. She dedicates every race to someone, mostly to her father who battled Leukemia and Lymphoma. In November after being introduced to Parker and his story through the blog, she dedicated her Thanksgiving race and the remaining races through December to him.

This morning she ran the Peachtree Corners Christmas 10K. When I saw her Facebook photo posing in her race outfit with Santa, I wasn’t surprised. Then I noticed her Parker T-shirt!  Then I noticed a photo with “PARKER” scrolled across her hand.


Then I remembered when she said she would run for Parker.  It was more than just words of encouragement and inspiration.

On November 12th, I first heard from Lisa with her following post: “Thanks for accepting my friend request. I was reading Mary’s post about your back-to-back Marathons. You are an fast and run hard for that little boy!:

No, Lisa, thank YOU for continuing to run fast and hard for that little boy!  You don’t just talk the talk, you run the run!!


I met Laura Lindauer and her boyfriend Matt Kuether, both from Wisconsin. while at the Deadwood, ND Trail Marathon.earlier this year,  As with Lisa, Laura has been following Parker’s story. She bought a shirt to support Parker.   But it was Parker who supported her today.

As she wrote: “Just wanted to let you know I wore my Parker T-shirt to my first spin class! The class was kicking my butt and and at one point I put my head down and looked at my shirt, thought of Parker and was like, “Really Laura, you CAN go faster and FINISH STRONG”!”  And she did.


Caroline Keating and I went to a spin class this am at 8:00 a full hour earlier than my regular class. So after a fun – and late – Friday night with friends dressed in their “Best” Ugliest Christmas Sweaters and very little sleep, I found myself glancing down at my Road ID throughout the ride – especially the last line. Caroline and I closed the class with a mad sprint – and ended with a quiet nod and smile that we had done it!


Today was a good day for Parker and his treatments.  As Mike posted on Facebook, Parker had a ton of energy this am.  He wrestled with his stuffed animals (taking down both “Pup” AND Henry the dalmatian), then wanted to go for a “walk”. Mike posted the picture below with the following description “If you’re wondering why the pic is blurry, it’s because he was going so fast thru the hallways. We did six laps around the 6th floor today. He was way ahead me making sound effects like he was driving while I was trying to keep up behind him with his I V pole in tow.”

Whether running in Georgia, spinning in Wisconsin and Ohio or doing laps around a Michigan hospital, lots of great people FINISHED STRONG today.

Tomorrow’s Blog: A Scary Story and the BEST Christmas Gift you will hopefully never use nor need.


No Room in The Inn

Waiting this morning in the clinic for his blood level results.

Today was supposed to be the start of Parker’s final 24hr chemo infusion for this phase, but some things don’t always go as planned.

The day started off normal.   Erica brought Parker into the clinic around 11AM.  They drew his blood to check to see if it was at the target level for him to be admitted.  As they waited for the results, Erica read and Parker played Nintendo DS and watched a movie.  The results finally came back and they were positive.  His blood levels were great and now they just needed to get him a bed on the Oncology floor….

The nurse came back in after checking and said “Uh oh!!!  There are no beds available” So Erica and Parker were directed to go home and they will call us when a bed opens up.

It is now 7:15pm and we’re relaxing with Parker and waiting until there IS room in the Inn.  (It could be anytime…  We told them we would go in as soon as one is available)

No Room in the "Inn"

ANOTHER 52.4 Miles in the Books!

One week ago today I completed my “52.4 Miles in 48 hours”. Today another 52.4 Miles were completed, but they were not mine. Starting last Friday Skip Svetanics decided to run his own 52.4 Miles race but in 240 hours. Every day he ran 5.24 miles – for 10 consecutive days!

Some days he ran early in the morning; others at night or at lunch. Some days in the rain; some in freezing temps.  Some days he ran alone, others with friends. Sometimes the location was in Blue Ash, OH, sometimes in Newport, KY, and many times around his home in Loveland, OH.  Regardless, he ran exactly 5.24 miles every day.

Yesterday and today I ran with Skip.

You can get to know someone well through running – one of the many things I love about it.  During our runs, we talked about his mom JoAnn, battling a form of Leukemia, and Parker. We talked about my cousin, Mike, his wife, Erica and their other two children, Harrison and Madeleine. We talked about his family and mine. We talked about his new subdivision, trail running and our connections with Japan. We talked about the Bob Roncker’s Running Group. We even talked about why I talk so much when I run (…guilty!).  Skip would give me live updates of what song was playing on his iPod. (one ear bud in for the music; one open to hear me blab!)

Heading out on Skip’s last 5.24!

Today it was freezing cold as I drove out to Loveland and met him at 7:30 am for Peets coffee before our run (a habit I am bound and determined to help him break so seized the opportunity to load him up with Millstone coupons).

We ran from his subdivision to the Loveland Trail.  On the way, we ran down a big hill on Adams Rd. We stopped at the bottom and ran back up it for Parker. Half way up,  I understood why he called it “Redemption Hill”.  Completely out of breath, we jogged back down, turned right on the flat Loveland trail for about a mile and looped back.   Next thing I knew we were back to the bottom of The Hill!  This time we dedicated the run back up for JoAnn. We both blitzed up the hill.

This was only appropriate as he called his “52.4 in 240 Hours”, the “J&P Workout”,  for JoAnn, his mother and Parker.


But Skip runs for many people. In October, he ran his first marathon in St. Louis.  He dedicated each mile to a specific person who was important to him:  Mile 1 for his late father Milton, Mile 7 for his mom, JoAnn, Mile 11 for cousin Jen, Mile 18 for a friend’s father and Mile 26+2 for the Bob Roncker’s Running Group.

But I am glad that he also runs for his family and himself, perhaps the greatest gift of all.

You see, I discovered another thing about Skip on our runs. He has been in a lifelong battle with his weight. Just two years ago, Skip weighed 304 pounds. To date, he has lost 107 pounds, He credits many tools including lap band surgery, running, support from friends and family, but mostly his faith in God for giving him the tools. As he shared, ” Whether with weight loss, overcoming addictions, even through a tough run, (God gives us) tools at our disposal. It is our job to recognize and use them to achieve success. Then when we learn how to use the tools ourselves, we can help others.”

Nothing in the world is a miracle cure. It takes a change of mindset, a change of heart.  Skip keeps a photo in his car of him from years ago in NY to remind him of what he used to look and feel like. The photo is also next to a ceramic tile he designed. It has a road leading into a beautiful blue and red sky with clouds. In the center where a setting sun would be, he painted the Kanji characters: 継続 – (keizoku) -meaning “continue on/never quit”.



Skip Finishing Strong – 52.4 Miles in 240 Hours!!


I sprinted ahead so I could take a photo of Skip FINISHING STRONG as he hit the last tenth of a mile of his 52.4 mile race!!



After we finished, his wife, Ko, took some awesome photos of us with the P.A.R.K.E.R. GINORMOUS SMILEY FACE. We had both Finished Strong, smiling all the way!

FINISHING STRONG at the end of Skip’s 52.4 Mile “J&P” RUN (for JoAnn and Parker)

I then met their three children, Rita, Hal and little son Nico in his PJs, who was the first to greet us at the door. Like me, he had lots to say and chose an interesting mix of English and Japanese to have me completely confused. While there, he did add one important new word to his vocabulary, which he was clearly able to pronounce: “Parker.

We all said goodbye for now, and as I drove out of his subdivision, I remember him telling me that his dad always urged him to, “shine your light on the world.” He said if we can find a way to do that, we can affect change in the world.  We can then truly have an impact on others and others on us.

This sounds like LOVE to me. And I couldn’t help but smile as I approached the road sign in front of me. It read,  “Welcome to Loveland, (Ohio)”.

Skip says Parker and I inspire him. I say Skip inspires all of us.


Coming up later this week:

Parker update as he enters a new round of treatments, The Perfect Christmas Present from Road ID and The Best Videos EVER!