Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Relay For Life

I devote a lot of this blog toward talking about fun things like games, science fiction, beer, and baseball. Today I’m changing it up a little bit to take on a not-so-fun topic: cancer. I’m participating in my church’s Relay For Life team this year, and I’d like your support. Here’s the link to our team page:


You can donate directly to the team by selecting the Donate button in the middle of the page, or you can credit me by selecting my name down on the team list and hitting the Donate button there. Either way is fine with me. I’m not keeping score—I sent my own donation right to the team.

About the Relay

The Relay For Life is a fundraising event sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Team members take turns continuously walking a track or path for the duration of the event to signify that cancer doesn’t take a break—and neither should we. The Relay fundraising effort spans thousands of events in many different countries, but you’ll find me at the May 13th event at Auburn Memorial Field in Auburn, Washington. I’m participating as part of the Auburn First United Methodist Church team.

Why I’m Participating

Everybody has a cancer story—someone you know, maybe someone you care about deeply, has battled cancer. I want to tell you about three people today.

Paul Randles was a co-worker of mine at Wizards of the Coast, and a friend. We played together on the company softball team and shared plenty of after-game beers back in the day. He was one of the most positive people I’ve ever worked with—a great game designer and a man with a big, big heart. Paul was just 37 when he died from pancreatic cancer back in 2003, but his favorite saying has stuck with me in all the years since: Every day is Christmas! If you knew Paul, then you know he meant it every time he said it.

My Aunt Cathy was my mom’s older sister, and just about a second mom to me at times. She and my mom were inseparable, even if she did have that special older-sister talent for getting under my mom’s skin at times. There’s a great family story about fried oysters: When my mom and my Aunt Cathy were growing up, my grandmother sometimes served fried oysters for dinner, a meal that my mom just hated. Since my grandmother belonged to the “I’ll keep serving it until you finish it” school of thought, it always developed into a colossal row. Many years later, my Aunt Cathy admitted to my mom that she didn’t eat the oysters either. “How did you get away with it?” my mom demanded. “Easy,” said Aunt Cathy. “You always made such a fuss about the oysters that I quietly slipped them into my napkin and threw them away while everyone was paying attention to you.” Aunt Cathy was a lifelong smoker, and it finally caught up to her: lung cancer, Stage IV when it was diagnosed. She got a better hand than Paul did--almost a full lifetime before cancer took her--but I miss her.

And lastly there’s Kim, my wife. Her outcome is going to be a lot better than Paul’s or Aunt Cathy’s, thank God. But she’s fighting cancer right now. Back in November she was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer—the second time she’s had it. The first time (ten years ago) required a little bit of surgery, a few weeks of radiation, and years of taking Tamoxifen. This time around, Kim came down with a more aggressive type of cancer, so the oncologist recommended chemotherapy. In fact, I’m taking her to the hospital tomorrow for her sixth and final treatment of the “rough stuff”—the broad therapies that clobber all fast-growing cells and make someone feel sick and run-down. So, the good news is that we’re just a week or two away from Kim starting to really get her energy and health back. And she couldn’t have a better prognosis—the cancer was detected early and there are targeted therapies that’ll work on it, so we’re pretty much 100% confident that this will be a good outcome. But the reason she gets to win this fight is that smart people have directed money and resources toward R&D for early detection and effective therapies. And that’s where you come in.

Final Word

I find myself in the position of asking folks for money a lot. I’m the Finance Committee chairman at my church, and my partners and I at Sasquatch Game Studio run Kickstarter campaigns to crowdfund our game publishing. You might think that approaching people about opening up their wallets would be tough, and it is. But I put out the word anyway, because I believe I’m not just hitting up people for money: I’m making them aware of an opportunity that I think they’d want to know about. In the case of a game I’m publishing through Sasquatch, that opportunity is pretty tangible: you get a game. In the case of the Relay For Life, it’s the opportunity to be a part of the fight against cancer. So even if it’s just a few bucks, please—help us beat cancer once and for all!