Thank You to Tim McDonnell

Tim McDonnellThe Meso Foundation would like to thank Tim McDonnell for his participation in the HITS Triathlon Series in Naples, Florida to raise funds for the Meso Foundation. Tim annually hosts fundraising events for the foundation, and his dedication to our mission is greatly appreciated. Below, read the article written about Tim’s participation in the triathlon from Naples Daily News.

NAPLES, Fla. – He had just swam 1,500 meters, biked about 25 miles, and ran close to a quarter marathon, but Timothy McDonnell still kept a brisk pace to greet her.

She was standing near the finish line having earlier completed a triathlon of her own, but still looked radiant in a bright yellow athletic tank top with short blonde hair. McDonnell hobbled over quickly, paused for an iPad photo, before embracing her with a hug and a kiss.

McDonnell and his wife, Andrea, had come a long way for this moment.

Part of the HITS Triathlon Series held in Naples this weekend, Timothy, 52, and Andrea McDonnell, 50, completed the Olympic and Sprint distance events, respectively.

But their accomplishments were really just another leg on a longer journey, one that expands beyond the miles they trekked Sunday.

It begins, with sickness and tragedy, in Michigan.

In 2009, Timothy McDonnell’s brother-in-law died of mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer — he’d been diagnosed five years prior, right after his honeymoon.

That same year, Andrea McDonnell was living what she calls a “miserable” existence in Michigan. She, too, had been given a diagnosis — breast cancer, in 2008 — and her chemotherapy sessions were all but unbearable.

“You’re watching the nurses get into full protective gear, and they take a bag that has a bio-hazard label on it, and they’re dumping it into the vein that goes right into your heart,” Andrea McDonnell said Sunday. “They’re completely protected, but they’re dumping it into my heart.”

Andrea McDonnell, almost literally, stayed on the couch for five years.

“You sit down and you don’t move,” said McDonnell, whose chemotherapy ended in 2013. “You have no energy. You feel sick all the time. I had pain everywhere.”

Timothy McDonnell tried to keep his wife active. After Andrea was diagnosed, Timothy began participating in cancer fundraisers every year. He’s done nine breast cancer walks, five rides-for-the-cure, and scores of other events.

For the past three years, Timothy McDonnell has competed in triathlons, in part to honor his late brother-in-law and raise cancer research money.

Andrea, who gained 70 pounds during chemo, tried accompanying Timothy to his spin classes at the gym. Always in pain, she couldn’t get through the workouts without crying.

“It was so freaking hard,” Andrea said, tearing up.

But in August 2013, the family hired a trainer who got Andrea on a diet and a daily training regimen. She lost the 70 pounds she gained — plus five more pounds — and began competing in triathlons like her husband.

On Sunday, Andrea finished the Sprint distance event — a 750-meter swim, 12.4-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run — in 1 hour, 42 minutes and 47 seconds, good for ninth place in her age group.

“It’s a good means to an end,” she said about triathlons. “I’m really proud to say that I’m now able to do it. Not everybody’s able to do one.”

The McDonnells were a couple of the estimated 2,000 visitors to the city this weekend for the HITS Triathlon Series, held in Naples for the fourth year. The event brought about $1 million in revenue, according to the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau, and attracted international competition, including athletes from the United Arab Emirates and Puerto Rico.

Most of the weekend, intersections on Vanderbilt Beach Road were manned by traffic officers, allowing for participants in the triathlons’ bike portions to pedal through. But cars still were allowed on the roads, which caused some issues.

Mike Aubrey, an athlete competing in the half triathlon, said he was struck by a car while biking Saturday morning. He said he was making a turn on his route when a car pulled out in front of him, cutting off the bike lane, and sent him crashing between the car and the guardrail.

“People are clueless. Really it’s a shame,” said Aubrey, who was able to finish the race. “It was a fun race, but the drivers are just crazy.”

Timothy McDonnell didn’t have any issues with his bike portion. That part is probably his strength, he said. But he struggled during the final leg — his 6.2-mile run in the Florida sun.

“About mile four, the heat was starting to get to me,” McDonnell said. “We haven’t had this weather in Michigan in four months.”

At the finish line, McDonnell came huffing and puffing across. His run portion was more like a “walk/jog,” he would say later. He doubled over for a moment while receiving his medal, but he quickly lifted his head up to lock eyes with his wife, waiting for him several yards away.

Then he started moving again.

Chicago Conference Photos Now Available

Panel at Chicago ConferenceThe 2014 Chicago Regional Conference on Malignant Mesothelioma was held on Friday, October 10 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Illinois. The conference was a collaborative effort between the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and The University of Chicago Medicine.

Topics of discussion were presented by area experts in the field of mesothelioma and geared towards patients, caregivers, family members, and general health practitioners. These topics included imaging, genetics, surgery, chemotherapy, novel treatments, stem cells, immunotherapy, and resources for patients and families.

The conference was chaired by Mary Hesdorffer, MS, APRN-BC, the executive director of the Meso Foundation, and Hedy Lee Kindler, MD, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago and Director of the mesothelioma and Gastrointestinal Oncology Programs at the University of Chicago Medicine.

All of the Meso Foundation’s photos from the Chicago conference are now available on the Foundation’s Facebook page.

For Those Attending the Chicago Regional Conference on Friday

Chicago brochure coverWe’re so happy that you will be joining us this Friday, October 10th for the Chicago Regional Conference on Malignant Mesothelioma! In this blog post, you will find all of the information you will need to prepare for the conference.

The 2014 Chicago Regional Conference on Malignant Mesothelioma will take place on October 10, 2014 at the Palmer House Hilton at 17 E Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603. Registration will begin at 8:30AM in the Monroe Room and the conference will begin at 9:30AM.

8:30AM Registration & Breakfast Monroe Room
9:30AM First Session Begins Monroe Room
10:40AM Break Monroe Room
12:30PM Lunch Adams Room
5:00PM Cocktail Reception Adams Room

There is no dress code for this conference, and we encourage you to dress comfortably. You may want to check the weather for the day when deciding what to wear. The forecast is currently calling for a partly cloudy day with a high of 56 degrees and a low of 47 degrees.

VIEW THE FULL AGENDA

Additional conference details can be found at curemeso.org/chicago.

Author of ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ Speaks Up About Deadly Cancer

Author Lionel Shriver pledges her support for Mesothelioma Awareness Day.The Meso Foundation recently released a video of award-winning author, Lionel Shriver, in which Ms. Shriver urges viewers to observe September 26th as Mesothelioma Awareness Day. The video can be watched on the Meso Foundation’s YouTube channel, or through the player below.

“Several years ago, one of my closest friends was diagnosed with mesothelioma,” says Ms. Shriver in the video. “Her experience of living with the disease, and ultimately dying from it, moved me to write my tenth novel, ‘So Much for That.’”

“So Much for That” is a fictional novel that tackles the complicated topic of healthcare in the United States through the experience of a mesothelioma patient and her family.

In the video, viewers are urged to visit the Meso Foundation’s website at curemeso.org to learn more about Mesothelioma Awareness Day.

Ms. Shriver is best known as the author of the award-winning novel “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” and “Big Brother.”

Mesothelioma Awareness Day is a grassroots movement established in 2004 by volunteers of the Meso Foundation with the goal of bringing more attention and funding to this historically-neglected cancer.

“On behalf of the mesothelioma community, I am infinitely grateful to Ms. Shriver for her help in raising awareness,” said Mary Hesdorffer, the nurse practitioner and executive director of the Meso Foundation.

“More awareness of this disease and the consequent increased funding for research, education, support, and advocacy is exactly what is needed to help us save lives,” added Ms. Hesdorffer.

View Lione Shriver’s video below, and learn more about Mesothelioma Awareness Day at curemeso.org/awarenessday.

Get Ready for Meso Awareness Day 2014

Mesothelioma Awareness Day 2014 will be observed on September 26th.Mesothelioma Awareness Day is just around the corner on September 26th! Established by Meso Foundation volunteers in 2004, Meso Awareness Day has been the driving force behind the movement to bring more attention and funding to this cancer. In the last ten years, through various activities, the Meso Foundation and its volunteers have been able to obtain “National Mesothelioma Awareness Day” proclamations by both the U. S. Senate and the House of Representatives, have raised nearly a million dollars, have received local government proclamations in their states and localities, and have received dozens of instances of media coverage for their stories, events, and activities.

In 2014, help us continue this trend. There are a number of ways that you can get involved, such as:

GOVERNMENT: Make Mesothelioma Awareness Day an official day in the states and cities where this hasn’t yet happened.

FUNDRAISING: Organize/attend a fundraising event. Visit curemeso.org to view upcoming events or explore the many ways you can get involved and plan your own event.

MEDIA COVERAGE: Contact your local media to obtain coverage of Meso Awareness Day in your area.

GENERAL AWARENESS: Use your social media networks to bring attention to mesothelioma and to educate your friends, families, and communities about our mission to eradicate mesothelioma and end the suffering caused by this cancer.

CONFERENCE: Join the Meso Foundation at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for a regional conference with experts in the field of mesothelioma. The conference will take place on Friday, September 26 at The Hub, Cira Centre located at 2929 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

TODAY SHOW: If you are in the New York are, join Meso Foundation volunteers as they again gather at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City for the Today Show on the morning of Friday, September 26. RSVP NOW. Check out the video below from Meso Awareness Day 2012!

More information about Mesothelioma Awareness Day is available on our website at curemeso.org/awarenessday.