On April 25th of this year, my dad, Daniel Engel, passed away, a victim of lung cancer complications. I wish I could tell that he did not suffer, but that’s unfortunately not true. His last 24 hours were relatively peaceful, but cancer, at its worst, is not kind to its victims and my dad’s quality of life for his last couple of months was anything but peaceful. Chemotherapy, surgeries and related illnesses took its toll and when he at last slipped away, my family and I were sorry for his passing but glad that he at last found relief from his suffering.
This was not my family’s first experience with terminal cancer. My wife Jennifer’s beloved step-father, Mel Jordan, was taken from us by lung cancer in 1999 and we got then an all too close look at the horrors this disease inflicts upon its victims and their families. Shortly thereafter, Jennifer’s grandmother also succumbed to the disease. Given the sheer numbers of cancer victims, it is likely that you have a friend or relative that has been similarly affected by this disease and can relate to our experiences.
I don’t know if dedicated researchers and doctors will ever find a cure for this dreadful illness, but I’d like to do what I can to contribute to their cause and I’m hoping you will assist me. On June 24th, I will be competing in Ironman Coeur d’Alene, a 140.6 mile test of physical stamina and mental toughness incorporating 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and 26.2 miles of running in and around the lakes and hills of beautiful northern Idaho. I feel certain I will not be slogging through all of those long, hard miles alone – I fully expect my dad will be there in spirit, urging me along and providing the same strength and comfort he always provided over my 43 years.
Frankly, competing in and training for an Ironman competition is a very selfish act. It requires long hours of training, particularly on the weekends, that all too often come at the expense of family and friends (thanks to Jennifer, Connor, Graham and any of you that have been inconvenienced by my training for your patience and support). Given my recent experience with my dad and prior experiences with Jennifer’s step-father and grandmother, I am determined to make my Ironman experience more meaningful by using my race to honor them and raise funds for the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Lineberger is the place where Jennifer’s step-father received outstanding care. Located at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center’s mission is to reduce cancer occurrence, death, and suffering in North Carolina and throughout the nation through treatment, research, training, and outreach. Lineberger's 12 multidisciplinary treatment programs provide an integrated team approach and access to leading-edge treatment and clinical trials. Its nine scientific programs and 23 shared resources involve 260 investigators from across the entire UNC Chapel Hill campus.
Let me close by saying that I am not comfortable soliciting friends and family for donations. Jennifer and I actively donate to charities of our choice, and I know you’re likely to have your own preferred organizations for allocating your resources. Asking others to contribute to one of our causes is not something I’ve ever done before but I feel strongly enough about this cause and this event that asking for assistance seems the right thing to do at this time. I’d ask you to carefully consider a donation (any size welcome!) by clicking on the “Donate to UNC Linberger” link on the left side of my home page. However, please do not feel any pressure to do so. Kind thoughts and prayers are free, but immensely valuable and I’d be happy to receive those as well.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and for all of your best wishes.