When You Call Instead of Text: Telling your friends that you have cancer

When You Call Instead of Text: Telling your friends that you have cancer

I can count on one hand the number of friends I actually talk to on the phone. Usually, this is a scheduled call or facetime- a ‘catch up’ to fill in the blanks of what we may miss in our day to day texts. So, in 2014 when I was 26 years old, I wasn’t quite sure how to break the news to my long distance friends that I had breast cancer. Telling family had been one thing. They knew about my ultrasounds, mammograms, and biopsies. Friends were a totally different ball game.

A text was not appropriate, and a random call felt really ominous. A text saying “Hey do you have a few minutes today? It’s really important.” felt even worse. But then again, this was really important. It was a cancer diagnosis.

I opted for a combination of the random call and the pre-scheduled, awkward text option. Sometimes I had to leave a voicemail (something I never do). It was awkward and there was no way to be truly prepared. Here’s an outline of how these conversations went:

  • Awkward Greeting – There were a lot of confused hellos. Lots of question marks. Usually, the person on the other end of the phone knew that something bad was coming but had no idea what. Another thought I called to tell her I was engaged. What came next could not be further from an engagement.
  • Rip off the band-aid I decided to go the route of “Ok, I’m going to tell you something, and then I can tell you the details after.” No small talk, no back story of how I found out until after I told them the news.
  • Remind them you will be okThis may sound weird, but I felt responsible for my friends’ well-being. I reminded them that I would be ok, that I had a long process ahead of me and that I’d be fine.
  • Explain what’s happening Cancer was a disease that grandparents or maybe even a parent got. Not one of us. I made sure to explain what I knew at the time and what I was waiting to find out.
  • Tell them how you’ll keep them in the loopI let them know that I would keep up communications. At that point in time, I hadn’t made my diagnosis public on social media, so I let everyone know my ground rules. While it was not a secret; I just wasn’t ready to let the whole world know.
  • Ask for the favorTelling friends was emotionally draining. For some, I asked them to pass the news along to others. It was one less awkward phone call to make. This route isn’t for everyone, but it worked for me. I wanted to keep things personal but also needed to take care of my own mental well-being in the process.
  • Crack a jokeI didn’t want everything to be all doom and gloom! So, true to character, I probably cracked a mildly inappropriate joke here. Plus that first laugh after crying always feels pretty great.

I wasn’t necessarily afraid of telling my friends I had cancer but was afraid that they would ask the same questions I had. The questions I was too scared to say out loud. These questions put me in a vulnerable place that I didn’t want to go to. Ultimately, telling my friends was challenging, but the fear of telling them was far worse. It was worth it to let my friends in so that they could provide support, comfort, and laughter when I needed it.

 

The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults

AYA Patient Navigator, MedStar Health Cancer Network

 

By |September 14th, 2018|Personal Stories|0 Comments

The Experience of a Lifetime – With Emma Sanning, 2018 Team Baltimore

I was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer a week after my 19th birthday at the end of my first semester of college. My freshman year, I opted-out of spring break plans with my friends to go home to have a foot and a half of my colon removed. Thankfully, I am now cancer free. I still have MRIs very frequently and meet often about my health but am thankful for clear scans and positive check-ups. 

When I was diagnosed, cancer seemed to be a threat to my “normal” college student life. I really struggled to tell my friends. Even when I told my closest friends, I would say that I was “just having a small surgery” or “the doctors found something they didn’t like- but they are fixing it” or “just a clean-up surgery!”. I was really afraid of what people would say, but ultimately, I was afraid to admit that this really was a BIG deal. This wasn’t something that normal college students dealt with. Normal college students did not have to go to countless doctors, they did not have their own oncologist, and they did not spend their breaks at home having what felt like a million scans. I really did not know how to talk about cancer or how to lean on others for support. What I know now, is that it is really important to talk about it. To be open to others, to lean on support networks, to let others lift you. But more than that, I really believe that it is important to take the things in life, for me it is my experience with cancer, to be vulnerable with others so that they do not have to face it alone. That is what 4k means to me. 

4k has motivated me to get back on my feet. I frequently think about how weak I felt after my surgeries, how I could barely lift myself out of bed, and about how running a tenth of a mile left me breathless and sore. Every day when I train for 4k, I am thankful for a body that can still run and for a cause that keeps me running.

Experience what 4K means next summer! Ride or run summer 2019. 

 

– Emma Sanning

4K for Cancer, 2018 Team Baltimore

Follow Emma and the other 4K teams this summer as they make their way across the country! Vist 4kforcancer.org and view our “2018 Trips”

The meaning behind the music – an interview with Kathy and Buddy Oliver

Kathy and Buddy Oliver met in the fall of 1987 at Lebanon Valley College where Kathy was majoring in social work and Buddy was majoring in Music. Their son, Bo, was born in 1996 followed by their daughter, Rachel, in 1998. After Bo’s cancer diagnosis in March of 2012, the Olivers began their relationship with The Ulman Cancer Fund; first as recipients of support and then as ardent supporters themselves, committed to improving the lives of young adults faced with cancer.

 

Tell us a little bit about Bo’s cancer journey and how Ulman fit into it.

Our son Bo was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare pediatric bone cancer, in March of 2012, while a sophomore in high school. Bo’s initial course of treatment included 7 months of intense chemotherapy, radiation and then a stem cell transplant, to which his body’s response was very positive. In March, 2014, the cancer returned once again. This time, a donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) was recommended. In May of 2015, we were told by our doctors that they had no further options to help Bo. Regardless, we were able to extend his life through the use of multiple holistic treatments and therapies. On June 1, 2016, Bo lost the toughest battle of his life. He faced the disease with a resilience, strength, and faith that was awe-inspiring. We initially heard about Ulman through our social worker, Allie Gubin.  Bo was fortunate to have been a recipient of a scholarship through Ulman. We also received help through Helping Others Fight.

How did your own community rally around you while you?

We have been so blessed by our community.  They have held many fundraisers for us, made us countless number of meals, visited Bo in the hospital and at home, went along on appointments, cut our grass, cleaned our house, offered emotional support, organized and attended prayer vigils, and always loved on our family.

Buddy, in what ways has music impacted your life and how did you pass down your love of music to Bo?

Music has been the single largest influence in my life. I started listening to music as a small child as my father was a stereophile. I started playing music in third grade and never stopped. The summer after my high school graduation, I was privileged to play with a Jazz group at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland which was a milestone event in my life. Music has even been an expression of my faith as I was a worship leader for almost 20 years.

For these reasons, Bo didn’t have a chance. We have a photo of him at probably 2 years old sitting behind a drum set of an old bandmate of mine. Our kids always were encouraged to do their own thing, he just always came back to music. I believe certain talents are part of a person’s DNA, Bo’s DNA was a music staff full of notes. He was truly gifted from birth and by the time he was in high school he was rivaling my 30 years of experience. As a Junior in High School, he auditioned for, and was accepted to, one of the most prestigious music schools in the world, Berklee College of Music in Boston –  which has produced almost 300 grammy winners.

Besides his love of music, Bo was also known for his quick wit, incredible sense of humor, and his love of ‘Merica. He had a definite sense of right and wrong and loved his family and fiance with all that he had. His faith was an integral part of who he was. He had a presence that filled up a room when he entered it. He had the gift of being able to engage with people of all ages, backgrounds, and ideologies.

Kathy, you recently went on UCF’s Key to Keys Experience. What was that like?

I went into the Key to Keys ride thinking the biggest challenge was the physical part, the ride. I had no idea how emotional the week would be. I was in a group of people that actually got how cancer impacted my life. I was given the gift of being able to talk about Bo, tell his story and talk about the BoStrong Foundation. I was also given the precious gift of being able to listen to other people’s stories. I have been blessed with being a part of another community of amazing people.  

What is the BoStrong Foundation?

We established the BoStrong Foundation in 2017 with the mission of supporting holistic wellness for young adults fighting cancer and their loved ones through education, enrichment, engagement, and experience. Our daughter Rachel and Bo’s fiance, Bailey Jones, serve as co-vice-presidents. They represent the organization and help with fundraisers and other organizational activities. BoStrong’s current focus includes:

  • Teaming with Ulman Cancer Fund to provide a music healing space and supporting programming in the Ulman House.
  • Educating young adult cancer patients and their caregivers about holistic treatment options and therapies.
  • Instilling confidence in those on the cancer journey that it’s “OK” to take control of their treatment, ask questions and explore options.
  • Connecting patients with available resources to support them in their cancer battle.

At this point, Bo’s passion for music is pretty apparent, but why did you decide to create the music room in the Ulman House?
Bo’s own words describe the power of music best…

What I really needed was something that would relax me. Something that would pass the time and ease the horrible and terrifying battle that I had with Cancer. I knew it! My guitar. Every second I was on the inpatient floor I was playing my guitar. I truly believe that the guitar made me feel better. Music has such a way of relaxing you. I know for me, I get sucked into my playing. I’m in a different world. Whether I’m on stage with my band or in a dinky hospital bed with my amp plugged in next to me playing for my family and the nurses. Along with anyone else that wanted to hear. Music is a medicine that did more for me than Chemo ever would. Chemo wasn’t there to take away the stress of having Cancer. And it certainly didn’t make my time in the hospital enjoyable. Music made that experience bearable.
Bo Oliver

 

We don’t just believe music will help the ‘experience’ of treatment. We believe it IS treatment and Johns Hopkins along with NIH and many other medical learning institutions agree. There are countless papers and studies validating the healing power of music, particularly in cancer patients. We believe that the music room can be part of a holistic and complementary treatment regimen. Through trained music therapists that will be available, we can work with young adults on music therapy, drum circles, singing bowls, education on curating playlists geared toward pain management, depression, anxiety, etc. These lists can be used in the ‘sanctuary’ of the dedicated music room as well as while in therapy.

How can the Ulman community help with the process of completing the room and/or carrying out your goals for patients staying at the House?

The Ulman community can help primarily through exposure and highlighting our foundation. They can join with us on events, lending weight and credibility to our cause. We still need to raise considerable resources to build out and outfit the room. Any connection with and exposure to donors is helpful. After the room is completed, we will rely heavily on the Ulman House staff to promote the room and its programming to the residents. We will need help coordinating and scheduling programming with therapists. We will also be organizing ‘Jam Sessions’ for residents who are musicians by bringing in local ‘on call’ semi-professional volunteer musicians. We will also collect feedback on the state of the room, any suggestions for improvements, maintenance needs, training, etc.

If you would like more information about the BoStrong Foundation or would like to contribute to the building out or operating of the music room, please email Kathy and Buddy at: partners@bostrong.us.

 

 

A community of support – A word from Sophia, Volunteer Coordinator, Ulman House

When I first heard about the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, I was in college and looking for an adventure.

I found the 4K for Cancer and immediately was struck by the power of the mission. I remember searching UCF online and getting caught on the mention of community.  The word “community” was the first thing that caught my attention. “A community of support” was at the center of my own personal mission and I knew I wanted to be a part of an organization that was utilizing this to support young adults with cancer. Fast forward two years to when I signed up for the 4K to fundraise $4,500 and bike 4,000 miles across the country. I wasn’t sure I was cut out for that kind of experience and was about two clicks away from rejecting the offer until I read about the dedication circles that started every ride. The idea of motivating with the mission every morning was my first inclination that this would be something life-changing. I completed the 4K for Cancer ride in August of 2017 and less than a month later moved down to Baltimore to start an AmeriCorps year serving at UCF as the Volunteer Coordinator.

Throughout my service year as the Volunteer Coordinator, I have been able to expand my ideas of what volunteerism is, what it can be and why our volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization. Our organization is unique because of the diversity of our programs and the varied use of volunteers. Volunteering for UCF can mean cooking and delivering a home cooked meal to a patient, helping run registration at one of our many events, serving food to our 4K for Cancer Riders and their families at send-off or even planning an activity hour for guests staying at the Ulman House. Coordinating the Volunteer program has allowed me to observe how powerful a small act can be to a patient who is going through so much. I have watched as some of our incredible volunteers have changed lives with simple acts of service, and that is pretty special.

When I came onto the team in August, I saw that our supporter and volunteer network was large and long-standing. The individuals who have supported UCF often come back and support again and again and again. The commitment of the volunteers is one of the reasons we are able to put the idea of a free housing opportunity for Young Adult patients into reality. As we prepare for the Ulman House to open, there is an incredible opportunity for volunteers to hop on board and be a part of the (literally) groundbreaking project.

Volunteers write letters to patients in treatment

Volunteers at the Ulman House could help with…

  • Check-in desk duties
  • Setting up an activity hour for our young adult guests and their caregivers.
  • Preparing meals
  • Keeping the house clean and comfortable for our visitors

with more opportunities to come!

My favorite moment of my service year has been our Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service we had in January. Unsure of how the turnout would be we were thrilled that over 50 people donated their days off and came ready to help out. There was an overwhelming sense of purpose in the room as the volunteers packaged chemo care bags, wrote cards to patients and nurses, and helped clean up the neighborhood in East Baltimore where the Ulman House will soon be opened. It was a wonderful day full of connections, laughs and an important reminder of what we can accomplish when we come together.

Volunteers pick up trash and clean up the community around the UCF house

 

Sophia Garber

Volunteer Coordinator, Ulman HouseSign up to Volunteer

Your Voice Matters – A word from Brock, President & CEO

 

Giving remarks at 2001 Columbia’s Cure

The month of April marks the beginning of spring.  For so many of us, this time of the year represents transformation.  As we transition from winter’s cold and darkness to summer’s warmth and light, spring gives us a chance to reflect, renew, and celebrate.  For these reasons and many more – the beginning of baseball, hockey playoffs, spring break, family BBQ’s, late nights playing ball in the yard with my kids – April also represents an important milestone in my life and the life of the Ulman Cancer Fund.  

Seventeen years ago this month, I was fortunate to be hired as the first full-time Executive Director of this incredible organization.  At the time, we had very little to show in regards to programs and impact, but we were a community strong and united, ready to drive change.  They still tell me to this day there were other candidates vying for the job and I was selected from the crowd, but I’m fairly certain I was the only one who applied.  At any rate, I landed the job and got to work.

I was young, naïve, and clueless but I had one of the most powerful assets you can have when you start something new – a burning desire to succeed; a story to tell; and a commitment to helping others who have experienced the pain I endured – losing a mom to cancer.  This April is particularly unique because it also marks the 20th year anniversary for the Ulman Cancer Fund.  As I reflect on the transformation and development of both Ulman and myself, I’m reminded and humbled by the incredible people I’ve met along the way who have helped us get to this point together.

Testifying in Annapolis in February 2018 with cancer survivors sharing their voice

We’ve accomplished so many great things over the past two decades – way too long of a list to include in this blog.  One special milestone that has been unfolding over the past couple of months is the result of many year’s worth of hard work and countless, brave cancer survivors sharing their stories.  

On May 8th, our team will travel to Annapolis, MD to join Maryland Governor Larry Hogan for a ceremony where he will sign a piece of legislation into law that will preserve parenthood for thousands of cancer patients indefinitely.

When the law becomes effective on January 1, it will mandate insurance companies to pay for a patient ’s fertility preservation prior to them starting their cancer treatment, which can render them infertile. This will make Maryland the 3rd State in the country to offer this important benefit, providing momentum for others states to follow suit.

After two year’s worth of meetings and hearings with legislators educating them on the importance of this bill, I am reminded of a powerful lesson I’ve learned during my time at Ulman – Your Voice Matters! Meeting after meeting, hearing after hearing, I watched as brave young men and women opened their hearts to share stories of pain, anger, perseverance, and conviction.  The tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces took me back to a place I haven’t been in many years. It took me back to the day I was alone in an office as the first and only employee at Ulman. Although I was fueled by a different experience then, I recognize so many of the same emotions that motivate these survivors now. After my mom passed away, I found my voice immediately, and I feel lucky I was able to harness it through my life’s work at Ulman.  

And so as I celebrate my 17th year at Ulman and our 20th year as an organization this April, I’m continually reminded of the power of having a voice.

Sometimes you need to advocate for those unable, or not comfortable sharing, and many times you need to do it for yourself.  

We still have so much work to do, but I’m encouraged by the progress we’ve made thanks to thousands of young adults and families who have chosen to share their stories as vehicles for hope, inspiration, and change.

 

Giving remarks at 2018 Blue Jeans & Bowties Ball

Giving remarks at 2018 Fight Night Baltimore

Cancer changes lives… SO DO WE!

 

 

 

Brock Yetso
President & CEO
The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults

 

“A Dash of Destiny” – an interview with Adam Van Bavel

Name: Adam Van Bavel

Age: 38

Occupation: New Business Development Manager

Give us a little background on your life and who you are (hobbies, professional life, etc.)  

I was born and raised in Baltimore. My wife and I just celebrated our 5 year anniversary. We’re parents of one (soon to be two) little boys. As a Baltimore native, when people ask where I went to school I always respond Calvert Hall despite the fact I went to the University of Maryland and love my Terps!

I was raised in Baltimore County where I now reside, but bought my first home in Baltimore City. There aren’t many cities in the US that rival the history, urban landscape and amenities, and culture of Baltimore. I’m an advocate for our City and the opportunity that exists for improvement.

During my 38 years of life, I’ve worked in nonprofit and for profit always with a focus on social good. I’m currently the New Business Development Manager for ONeil Interactive where I work with home builders across the country to improve their digital efforts. I also manage BmoreEvents promoting social good events and causes as well as nonprofits resources.

My favorite activities revolve around spending time with my family enjoying the outdoors and working towards our goal of visiting every National Park.

 

How has cancer impacted your life?

 

My senior year of high school was 1997. This also coincides with the inception of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. I was an active guy who played sports and lifeguarded at Beaver Dam. During the excitement of summer my senior year, I had several medical issues arise that changed my college experience.

The long and short of it was after going to the ER and a gastroenterologist I was diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus and Ulcerative Colitis. I had polyps in both instances and the Colitis polyps were villous adenomas. It’s not often that boys in high school are diagnosed with these issues, but more often men ranging from 40-60. Of my 38 years of life, I’ve spent 20 of them having countless procedures, medications, and other treatments. I’m extremely fortunate that the polyps weren’t cancerous when they were found and my symptoms have gotten better over time which isn’t common.

I’ve escaped cancer for now, but several of my friends and colleagues haven’t. I’m committed to becoming better educated and helping to share that knowledge and the experience of cancer in young adults. I also want to make the lives of those (and their families) enduring cancer at a young age better in some way by supporting the great work of the Ulman Cancer Fund.

 

How did you get involved with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults?

 

I first heard about UCF several years ago participating in Mustaches for Kids – a month long charitable initiative that tied in facial hair. M4K occured for a time during November along with several other beard/mustache related organizations. I wanted to give exposure to them all. I was able to do so locally after reconnecting with Averil Christens-Barry. My first UCF experience was via this No Shave November blog post. That post and promoting many of Ulman’s ensuing events led to my involvement in the inaugural Game Changers class.

 

What have you gotten out of the GameChangers program?

 

Participating in the Game Changers program was an amazing opportunity. I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the work being done at UCF and serve first hand. I listened to personal stories, met patients/survivors, and experienced meaningful impact.

 

How are you blending your personal and professional life?

 

Working in the home building industry and being focused on social good has allowed me several opportunities to blend my personal and professional life. While I was at the International Builders Show I was able to meet one of the founders of Iowa Skilled Trades. The work they’re doing to address the skilled trades gap recently garnered the involvement of Baltimorean, Mike Rowe.  

 

It’s also been incredible to be involved with the completion of the UCF House!

 

Tell us about your work with the UCF House

 

It was an exciting coincidence (with a dash of destiny) that after being nominated/accepted to be a GameChanger, I found out about the UCF House. As part of my career I’m active with the Maryland Building Industry Association and their Future Industry Leaders Council. This natural alignment and the dedication of key MBIA staff and members facilitated the donation of cabinets, appliances, and their installation. A fantastic outcome from a most unexpected opportunity!

 

What do you find most exciting about the UCF House opening?

 

The UCF House not only fills the need of providing housing for young adult cancer patients and their families, but also provides a supportive communal environment just blocks from Johns Hopkins Hospital.

 

What do you want your legacy to be?

 

My hope is that the work I’m passionate about and participate in creates positive impact and inspires others. Ultimately, my goal is to raise my children with opportunities to contribute meaningfully to society. It would bring me the greatest joy to have them experience the incredible sense of progress and fulfillment that comes with service and stewardship while valuing their time doing so.

Cancer survivor’s son receives scholarship for reflective essay

The University Daily Kansan wrote a piece on one of The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults’ 2013 scholarship winners, Adam Reeves.

“The news came a couple of days after Christmas that the lump Adam Reeves’s mom had removed after having her last child was Stage II triple-negative breast cancer.

After the shock wore off, Reeves, a freshman from Pleasant Hill, Mo., realized he would have to step up to fill in for Angel, a stay-at-home mom who he said “basically runs our entire lives.”

“Mom’s kind of the glue that holds everything together, so knowing that she would be incapacitated or possibly we might lose her . . . it was a little unhinging,” he said.

It didn’t make things easier when his brother, the only other sibling who could drive, tore three tendons in one of his legs. The brunt of the responsibility fell on Reeves to take care of the family”

By Emma LeGault

– See more at: http://kansan.com/news/2013/07/08/cancer-survivors-son-receives-scholarship-for-reflective-essay/#sthash.uEomqAOb.dpuf

scholarships

A Half Full Proposal

I’m Loren Bazualdo, and I raced in the Rev3 Half Full 70.0 triathlon benefiting the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults the weekend of, October 7th2012.  It was an incredible journey leading up to, during, and especially after the race.  And this is my story, about my Half Full experience!

Loren & Dan

Loren & Dan

About 6 months ago I began my journey towards my first Half Ironman distance race, and I decided to race the Half Full 70.0. I wanted to race Half Full in memory of my dear brother, Jimmy A. Camacho.  He passed away 15 years ago in a tragic car accident.  The day was March 14, 1997.  He was 21 years old.  It was the saddest moment for my family, friends and me.

I have many stories about him that have inspired me but there is one in particular that is special.

Ever since I was a little girl I would always tag along his side. We would do many things together but we enjoyed playing sports the most.  He was an athletic person and loved soccer.  I preferred to play soccer than to run but he would always challenge me.  On this one day we went running and he of course took me on hillier roads.  I recall it was the hardest run for me and I really wanted to quit!  But he didn’t let me and he would say,“Come on Loren, it’s only a few more feet!”, “You can do it!”, and “We’re almost there!”  I tear to this day when I remember him say that.  A tough workout turned out to be the best memories with my brother.  He left me knowing he would be by my side no matter what.  And throughout my training, especially on those hard days, I do feel like he was there with me, pushing me to continue.

Fast forward 6 months, my training was finished, and it was time to race.   It was a cold, soggy morning, but that was not going to dampen my spirits.  I kept reminding myself that this was my race and most important it was in memory of my dear brother Jimmy!  Looking around, I could see the weather was not dampening the spirits of the many cancer survivors or people racing in memory or honor of people battling cancer!  It was truly an inspiration to see them all out there.

As the swim start neared, I was actually very calm and relaxed.  My parents, my cousin Veronica and most importantly Dan Hallenbeck (my boyfriend) came to watch me and their presence meant a lot! When my wave was called, I began walking down towards the water, ready to start the swim.   I quickly said a little prayer, and before I was out of sight, I heard Dan say “Kick Butt!!”  It was all I needed to hear to have a good start.  He was with me all the way!

We entered the water in a time trial start, which was a first for me.  The great thing about the time trial start was not having a clustered group of swimmers, and I avoided having a panic attack because of it. The swim, my strongest leg of the race, was fairly uneventful.  The only hiccup was towards the end when I experienced a little current trying to pull me out more.  I finished the swim strong, and now my time of 29:31 is the time to beat next year!

Coming out of the water I began to realize how cold it was. I jogged the small path up to transition, and as I approached I could see Dan cheering me on.  I realized because of the weather conditions I needed to dry up as much as possible.  It was cold and the bike was going to be colder, so I took my time to ensure I was as dry as warm as possible.

By the time I started my bike ride it was raining.  This is my concern because it is my weakest leg of the race. Complicating the ride was the rainy weather, and I had to worry about staying safe in slick conditions. Additionally, there was the mental challenge of having to do two loops.  However, all I remembered was to Kick butt just as all the cancer survivors were doing!!  The best part of the bike ride was the chance to talk to Lance Armstrong as I began my second loop and he finished his.  He was very nice and took a couple seconds to slow down and say “Good Morning!”  After this I really wanted to finish!  I went out and began my second loop, and shortly after the rain had stopped.  I finished my second loop, and rode back in to transition, ready to run!

Starting the run, the hills were tough but the constant support of the awesome volunteers gave me strength to continue throughout the rest of the race.  As I ended my first loop, I saw the finish; this was the hardest of all because the finish line was so close yet far away.  It was here that I saw my family and Dan cheer me on and they gave me energy to keep going!  I dug in deep and kept running.

As I finished the second loop and approached the finish line, I was excited and emotional.

Loren & Dan

The thought of my brother came to mind and I was thrilled to complete my first half ironman.  My eyes were starting to water.  Suddenly I recognized Dan at the finish line with my finisher’s medal!  I was thrilled to see him!!  He placed the medal over my head and I began to tear even more.   As I started to turn slightly to find my parents, Dan turned me back towards him. I was confused at first, but FINALLY I REALIZED what he was doing.  He got on his knees and showed me the ring!!!  I COULD NOT BELIEVE THIS WAS HAPPENING!!!  By now tears were rolling down and I was speechless.  He proposed at my race!  I was so shocked I realized I had not responded yet.  I finally nodded yes as I still had not caught my breath.

I will never forget this race!  It is in the books!!  My story of how Dan Hallenbeck proposed

Loren & Dan

She said YES!