Why 21 Miles of Hope?
How I met Lori and Life up to Diagnosis
I was playing music in a club at a happening nightspot, when one of my very best friends named, Debbie, brought out a group of friends to see me. They were all my friends but there was someone in the group I had never met. That was Lori. Lori and Debbie were also best friends. We all hung out after my playing job.
The next morning, when I woke, I popped my head up (thinking about Lori) and walked right to the phone. I called Debbie and asked her to call Lori and see if it would be OK to have her phone number. She told Debbie I could have her number and we went out that night to meet a few of our mutual friends.
Life was so amazing with Lori. We laughed together, enjoyed a lot of things together and most importantly, we enjoyed each other. Lori left a career to raise our children. We were living the perfect family life. So much love, so many laughs, and there was nothing more important to her than taking care of all of us. Our children were so happy, involved in all sorts of activities. I, as well as Lori, was happier than I had ever been, until the day I took her to the doctor for the results of her biopsy.
How Lori’s Life Inspired me to Swim the English Channel
Lori inspired me by the way she inspired others. Upon diagnosis, although we cried together, she was so strong. She was never afraid of her cancer. Rather than say, “why me,” she would say, “why not me? The cancer just wants to survive, too.” She was also never afraid of any medical procedures or surgeries.
Once, she asked me to videotape a procedure that others were afraid of so that they can see the video and make them feel better. She fell asleep during the procedure. Rather than focus on negative thoughts, she focused on finding silver linings and things to celebrate because of her cancer.
Just prior to her diagnosis, Lori took a job as an assistant secretary in the office of an elementary school. She was the smiling face that greeted students and parents each day. Although she was only there four years, her impact on the teachers, students, and community was so profound that the elementary school dedicated the entire front of the south side of the school as the ”Lori B. Whiting Bird Sanctuary,” and placed a memorial in her name just outside the school library.
Her strength and attitude are the inspiration for my swim. She could not control the fact that she had cancer and she stayed strong and positive through her entire journey. The thought of swimming across the English Channel is very scary. And I do have a choice. My choice is to use Lori’s inspiration to get me across, the same way she handled her cancer journey.
What I would Like to Achieve by Accomplishing this Feat
When Lori was diagnosed, and during the entire time of her treatment, we found very little (if any) information on cholangiocarcinoma. We were informed by the doctor that there is a 15% chance she would live five years. With the best treatments made available to her at Siteman Cancer Center at the National Institutes of Health, Lori made it almost four years.
There are currently no treatments available, and the only course of action is surgery. In addition, detection usually occurs when it is too late. More people are being diagnosed now as well as many younger people. Therefore, what I want to achieve by my swim is to raise enough money and awareness about cholangiocarcinoma to make a difference for others that are diagnosed currently, and in the future, and for early detection of this diagnosis.
My Wish for Every Cholangiocarcinoma Patient of Behalf of Lori
My wish for all patients is to embrace Lori’s inspiration as they work through their treatment and try to find silver linings to help them get through each day. I believe in prayer. But I also believe that if patients stay strong and positive, their chances of success are greater.