Sunday, October 17, 2010

I need your help in the fight against Lymphoma

Hello Friends

Its that time of year again when I ask all of you to help me with my family’s crusade to put an end to Leukemia Lymphoma and other types of blood cancers. In the past 5 years, I have sent email updating you on the progress we have made in the fight against cancer. I have told you about how the money collected gets spent and how every dollar you contribute to my family's fund raising campaign goes directly to those who need the help most. The people affected by cancer, the patients, the drug trials, and the support that goes along with the horrible news that people get every day.

This year, instead of doing all that, I am going to just tell you about a memory I have. This will should help you to understand why Me, Tim and April spend so much time trying to raise our goal before the end of October every year. As you may or may not know, We lost our family member Bobby Jewell to lymphoma on March 02, 2005. It was a long fight which included chemotherapy. During all that, there are some vivid memories that stand out. Here is one that I cherish.

While Bob was fighting cancer, I lived in Tampa, Fl with Bob, my sister April and our friend Jeremy and Bobs dog, Tucker. Tucker is a Black Lab/Sharpei mix with a very unattractive overbite, but he has a heart of gold and is very lovable. We had lots of fun together. Every day was an adventure. During Bobs fight with cancer, he would often miss the holidays because he was getting Chemotherapy and it required a three week stay at the hospital. April, Jeremy and I would go to see Bob daily at the hospital. We would bring him magazines, vitamins, Dairy Queen Blizzards, whatever he wanted. Bob would try and be happy when we were there, but most of the time he was just unconformable because he didn’t have the strength to get out of bed. He was always very athletic, played softball and basketball for years and was one of the smartest guys we ever met. He loved to watch old TV shows. We had lots of sofas at our place because we all loved to watch TV together and it takes a lot of couch space to seat the four of us and a black lab. Anyway, during one of Bobs lengthy hospital visits for chemotherapy, we went to see him. In his hospital room, I felt like we were losing him. He was just out of it. He could not find the energy to even smile. He was getting the chemotherapy pumped into his blood and it just kills everything in you, It kills the cancer cells and the good cells. Its terrible, Well we all sat there for a while and then went home. Once we got home, we talked about how to make Bob feel like he had to fight harder. We wanted to show him that we missed him at home and we wanted to bring our home to him. We came up with a plan. We were going to take Tucker to the hospital and sneak him up to Bob’s room for a visit. And, if that wasn’t enough, we grabbed season 1 of Wonder Woman, the TV Series to watch on the TV in the room. We just had to figure out how to do it.

The next night, Me, April, Jeremy and Tucker the dog piled into the jeep. We drove to the hospital Bob was at and parked the car. It was 10:30pm. We know the halls of the hospital were quiet at this time, so this was when we had the best chance of getting Tucker into the room to see Bob. We had the whole thing worked out. Jeremy stayed in the car with Tucker while April and I headed for the hospital doors. As we got to the back entrance, April stayed at the entrance door to keep watch for the security guard and the desk person. I continued on toward the elevator, pressed the button and waited until the elevators doors opened and the empty elevator car was in front of me. I used my foot to stop the doors from closing. There was nobody else around.. I could see April at the front entrance and she could see Jeremy and tucker by the jeep. We waited for a few minutes and then the opportunity presented itself. April signaled to me and Jeremy that the front desk person got up to use the rest room. She waived Tucker and Jeremy on. Jeremy and Tucker met April at the front entrance, and the three of them headed right for me. We entered the elevator, pressed the number 4 for the fourth floor and up we went. We knew that this particular elevator opened on the fourth floor far enough away from the nurses station to be an issue and it was only two doors from Bob’s room.

The elevator ride seemed like an hour. My heart was racing. We were so proud of ourselves for getting Tucker this far into the hospital but now I was scared to death. What if someone was waiting to get in the elevator when we got to the fourth floor. Or even worse, what if a doctor calls for the elevator on the 2nd floor and gets in and had to go to the 4th floor with us. What would we even say? “Um, hi doc, heard any good stories about the crazies in the mental illness ward lately?” I had not planned for anything like that and I didn’t think far enough ahead to bring mop buckets or construction cones with me to put in front of this elevator on the 2nd and 3rd floor. Ok, mental note to self. Read up more before attempting to break hospital rules in the future. My heart was racing and I felt like It was 120 degrees in the elevator.

The elevator doors opened on the forth floor. Nobody was there. I could hear the nurses talking at the nurses stating about 100 feet away. Luckily, they were in the opposite direction of where we were going. We left the elevator and headed down the hall to Bobs room. So far so good. I was really feeling great at this point. I looked at April and Jeremy and we all smiled at each other, as if to say “Pffft, this sneaking around stuff is simple, we should do this more often”. We got to Bobs door and I looked around. Nobody was near the door. This was perfect. Without even hesitating, I cracked Bobs door open, and April, Jeremy and tucker darted inside. I looked one more time up and down the hall of the 4th floor and nobody had seem them dart into the room. I slid into Bobs room as the last of our group and closed the door behind me. I stopped in my tracks, my mouth dropped and my heart started racing again. Jeremy and April were frozen in place and Tucker was sitting at attention. Ok, its times like this when I really need to re-think these crazy ideas. Standing around Bob were 3 doctors and a nurse. They were all staring at us. We were all staring them. Nobody moved or said anything until Bob turned his head to see what the doctors were looking at and saw us. He looked at all of us and in this very week voice that got stronger as he went on, he said “That’s my dog!” That’s my Tucker”.

Tucker pulled on his leash to go toward the bed and Jeremy let him go. Ok, another mental note, if you are sneaking a dog into a hospital room, don’t let go of the leash. Tucker jumped from the floor into the very skinny hospital bed and right on top of Bob, with all his IV’s and other important medical looking stuff on him. Tucker laid his head down and Bob found the strength and the energy to put his arms around Tucker and hold him tight. From the time we entered the room to the time Bob was holding tucker on the bed, no more than 30 seconds had gone by but it seemed to last an hour. Now that Bob had Tucker with him, the doctors backed way from the bed and headed for the door. One of them turned to us and said “We didn’t see anything, but just keep It down in here. Please.” And that was it. They left. We all were so relived. We kissed Bob and Tucker and Bob seemed to get stronger by the minute. It was amazing. If you have never owned a dog before, you can possibly know how loyal they are to their owners so let me just tell you that they want nothing more in the world to be center of their owners attention. That relationship with Tucker made Bob stronger and soon he was his old self We popped Wonder Woman in the dvr and watched some tube. As were were sitting there, we got hungry so I had the bright idea to order Dominoes Pizza. Thirty minutes or less later, the pizza guy knocks on the hospital door. Tucker, doing what dogs do when someone knocks on the door, started barking. We all froze. TUCKER!! I yelled almost in a whisper. He backed down, and Jeremy jumped up and raced for the door to deal with the pizza guy. Luckily, nobody heard a dog bark in our hospital room. We all ate pizza and watched TV for a few hours until Bob started to doze off for the night. When it was time to leave, we just opened the door and walked out of the hospital with Tucker on his leash.

We lost Bob a few months later just after his 38th Birthday. Tucker lives with me here in Phoenix, AZ and is now 10 years old. While I have learned to live with the loss of Bob, I have not been able to think about it any less. I often think about the days when we all lived together and how we had fun with everything that we did. We had no idea all of that would change or that one of us would not be around. You just never know who is going to be affected by cancer. It could be you, me, any one of us. The odds are just crazy. Please, take a few minutes to visit my family's ‘Light the Night” fund raising page link at the bottom of this email and make a donation to help us end blood cancers for all future friends and family members. I could give you many reason to make a donation to help stop cancer, but I think this year, I want to show you just what my family lost in this fight. You already know what it will cost you to make a donation, but for me, I’m still paying the price, every day. I have attached a photo to this post of the night we snuck Tucker into Bobs Hospital room. I hope you enjoyed the story, and the memory.

Here is the link to donate to my family’s “Light the Night Walk” fundraising page. Thanks very much for supporting me for the last 5 years in this effort.


Joseph Spinelli
April Spinelli
Tim Troxel

Team: Forever Jewell
Light the Night Walk, Glendale AZ Chapter.

October 17, 2010.

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