End of year report for 2016 for Walking with Jane

A year of ups and downs

2016 was a busy year, both for Walking with Jane and for me personally. As an organization, we made significant progress on a number of fronts, but lagged behind where I would like us to be in other areas. As an individual, I continued to struggle with my personal demons. Again, there were moments of significant progress—and moments of stagnation and regression. Grief continues to hammer at my heart, but the blows are softer and less frequent.

…a future with less hurt and more hope in it

As many of you know, Dana-Farber asked me to get involved with a fundraising campaign aimed at NET cancer in late August of 2015. We launched that campaign December 9 of last year with a presentation in Boston. I now officially chair that campaign–3-in-3: The Campaign to Cure NET Cancer. Our goal is to raise $3 million over three years for NET cancer research. As this year drew to a close, we were closing in on our first $1 million. That work has taken me to Boston on a regular basis to meet with doctors and researchers and professional fundraisers to help plan and execute that effort. It’s been a positive learning experience.

NETwalkers and #cureNETcancernow

Part of that effort involved, as always, our NETwalkers Alliance Jimmy Fund Walk team. For the first time since I took over as captain, I was not the top fundraiser on the team. That honor falls this year to Jenaleigh Landers, who has been there from the start. Her golf tournament in memory of her father has always put her in the second spot in recent years. The tournament was even more successful this year. Total, our relatively small team raised just over $39,200.

…closing in on our first $1 million.

In addition, we helped launch the first disease-specific Walk group, #cureNETcancernow. The group had four teams and raised just short of $160,000 for NET cancer research. We had nearly 200 NET cancer walkers join in that effort. Only the Dana-Farber employees group had more team members or raised more money—and most of the other groups were run by major companies like State Street Bank.

Ups and downs of a start-up effort

The result of those efforts—and those of a number of people riding for NET cancer research in the Pan-Mass Challenge–is Dana-Farber adding a new gastrointestinal research lab whose primary focus is NET cancer. We were also listed among the funders for a paper on NET cancer co-authored by Dr. Jennifer Chan, who was Jane’s oncologist at Dana-Farber.

…we helped launch the first disease-specific Walk group…

But tasks connected to the 3-in-3 Campaign forced me to cut back on some of the other things Walking with Jane has done over the last five years. Normally, I do two mailings a year for that, neither of which happened. I went three months without posting anything new on our website. Other things slid as well. Start-ups always take more energy than I anticipate, but I hope to get back to a more regular schedule on these other things soon.

Personal successes and losses

Not all of that had to do with the Dana-Farber campaign, though. On the good side, I spent six weeks again this summer teaching journalism fundamentals to high school students in a summer program at BU. The commute is a killer, but working with young people reminds me there is more to life than cancer.

Start-ups always take more energy than I anticipate…

And I needed that reminder especially this year. Two good friends were diagnosed with cancer this spring. Both are in treatment and doing well, by all accounts. But I also lost two NET cancer patients over the summer I had become close to. Their deaths underlined again for me why what I am doing matters—and why I need to keep doing it.

Keeping myself sane

I continued my ongoing landscaping and other house projects. The yard still looks like it’s under construction–because it is–but I finished the patio project, the back half of Jane’s memorial garden and the garden, back, front, and side pathways. I also got a good start on installing a small orchard and another pair of garden beds, while repairing the sinkholes that developed just after Jane died. I’m doing it all by hand, one shovelful at a time, which keeps me in shape and gives me a break from all the mental exercise my other projects force on me.

…why I need to keep doing it.

Indoors, I redid the dining room and bedroom and have a clear vision of what the finished study will look like. I took Jane’s chair in last week to be re-upholstered for that room. Two-thirds of the basement is cleared out and, in the next month or so, I hope to have the electrician in to do some wiring down there.

A year of rediscovery

I’ve also done a ton of reading, some of it related to cancer, but much more of it just for fun. I’ve rediscovered photography, done some writing, done some walking, lost 30 pounds, put 15 back on—bloody post-Marathon issues continue—and tried to build a life that makes sense again. Life feels both more and less empty.

…one shovelful at a time…

The sixth anniversary of Jane’s death was December 10—and it was awful. But I put up the tree for the seventh time without her and I felt good afterward. Somehow something lifted off of me and I felt like a human being again. Maybe Year 7 will finally see me healed enough to think about a future with less hurt and more hope in it.

I hope this finds you and yours in good health and spirits and that the year ahead will prosper you in ways great and small—and in ways you don’t see coming. Go have an adventure. I hope to have several.

Pax et lux,

Harry

Money we raised this year was instrumental in creating a new lab at Dana-Farber that will have NET cancer as its main focus. The lab will do other types of gastrointestinal cancer research as well.

Money we raised this year was instrumental in creating a new lab at Dana-Farber that will have NET cancer as its main focus. The lab will do other types of gastrointestinal cancer research as well.

Posted by walking with jane on January 2, 2017

6 responses to “End of year report for 2016 for Walking with Jane”

  1. Ronny Allan says:

    Good luck for the million Harry

  2. Bill says:

    My wife had a pnet, glucagonoma. Diagnosed and resected six years ago.
    She dealt with lots of side effects over the years
    Had her best year in 2015. Looked great and was getting out more
    Then, a new scan revealed recurrence and metastasis in the liver
    At first did well. Lanreotide injections appeared to work
    Then not so good
    Follow up scan showed growth and new cell activity
    Started Sutent
    Major liver failure ensued lots of fluid removed 6 to 7 liters per week
    It was awful
    Final blow was massive abdominal hemorrhaging
    Hung on for three weeks
    Died in my arms on Christmas Eve at home
    Her poor body was worn out

    Even through all that I can’t believe she is gone
    The hole in my heart is huge my mind is numb

    We had greatDoctors but in the end the damage was too great

    Good luck to,all of you dealing with this horrible disease

    Our main care came from EVMS in Norfolk
    I will be setting up some funding to support Dr Vinik’s work