|Steve Prefontaine and Coach Bill Bowerman|
What kept him going thru the seclusion of this time was the desire to run again. After completing the initial rounds of chemo, in May he began the Maintenance form of his chemo which he will finish in January 2013. It involves monthly IV chemo, daily and weekly oral chemo, lumbar punctures (including intrathecal chemo) every 3 months and bone marrow biopsies every 6 month. It may sound like a lot, but compared to what he went thru during the first 8 months (chemo up to 4 times a week), this is almost easy…or at least Dan seems to make it look that way!
It doesn’t come easy though. He has to work as hard or harder than everyone else just to stay the same or see a minimal improvement in his times. He misses practices because of chemo treatments although he has been known to hurry back to school after a lumbar puncture and/or bone marrow biopsy and run the same day! He has worked thru the pain of the devastating lumbar puncture headaches. They are similar to a migraine…he says it is like you had the worst stiff neck of your life that doesn’t go away. The only thing that makes it feel better is laying down flat - helped a bit by some caffiene. In January of this year, while suffering from an LP headache, Dan went to track practice…he wasn’t required to…his coaches are very cautious of his condition! They were running repeats and the pain was excruciating. The coaches told him he didn’t have to do it…that he should just stop but Dan wanted to continue. He continued to push thru the pain! He would finish each rep and immediately lie flat on the ground until the next rep…then he would get up and do it all over again. I’m sure it was inspiring to the other athletes to see what he was going through just to be able to run like everyone else! He runs thru the pain and the disappointment of (to him) inferior times because he loves it…because it is who he is…a runner! He refuses to let cancer take that away from him.
So this Saturday, in the back of his mind as he steps up to the start line, is the hope and promise of next year… being able to stand at that line (God willing), still in remission from the Leukemia and free of the poisonous chemo that now runs thru his veins. You probably won’t see his name on the leader board…he won’t be setting any record times (maybe a PR) or getting interviews from the local press but if you take a poll of the athletes with the most courage, determination and heart, he would definitely be right there at the top! He is the epitome of courage and determination and continues to test the limits of his heart every time he steps on the track. I am so proud of all he has accomplished with such humility! I’m sure Bill Bowerman is up in heaven, smiling down on Dan as he watches him run!
Here’s wishing Dan and all the other athletes good luck this weekend at the Sioux City Relays and wishing you all “the best of times”!