Those were the words yours truly wrote when composing a press release for a client, Tim Haley, owner of Haley’s Tire up in Maine. Tim had been diagnosed with colon cancer a few years earlier. Having gone through numerous surgeries and treatment, he had an NED reading on his last blood test. That means No Evidence of Disease.
While that’s a great story unto itself, it was even more impressive when you considered that Tim, as part of his therapy trained and participated in the Pan Mass Challenge. Not only did Tim complete the 200+ miles from Sturbridge to P-town, but his team, Team Headstrong, raised $75,000 for Dana Farber and the Jimmy Fund.
As the PR firm charged with enhancing the visibility of Tim’s chain of tire stores in Maine, Haley’s Tire, we thought it was a great opportunity to raise the visibility of stores and the cause. Particularly in light of Tim’s most recent NED test.
I’m the one who wrote the release and it was my idea to use the words “cancer-free”. And it worked. The Portland Press Herald wrote an article. That was in June.
Closer to the ride, Tim began to feel some discomfort. His training had aggravated scar tissue from previous surgeries. He was in the hospital on Friday, the day before the ride. It didn’t look like he was going to be able to participate. Lance Armstrong even sent a video message the morning of the ride.
Tim didn’t participate in the ride, but checked out of the hospital and drove down from Maine to root on Team Headstrong.
The rest of the story you can probably guess. The cancer returned. Within a year, Tim was gone, leaving behind a wife and four-year-old daughter. He was 44, just a few years younger than me with a daughter around my daughter’s age.
The death of someone I barely knew hit surprisingly hard.
Logically, I know writing a press release didn’t cause Tim’s relapse. The medical reasons were there. Yet as someone who subscribes to the idea of karma and Murphy’s Law, it bothered me that I pushed for him to put that into the release. It has haunted me ever since.
Every year since, I receive e-mails from Tim’s widow. Team Headstrong rides on and there are several fundraisers in Tim’s memory each year. I’ve wanted to participate in one for the longest time, but the distance, time, etc. always seem to get in the way. At least that’s what I told myself. This year is different.
I recently turned 50. While I pray to God there’s a lot more life left, this milestone birthday has made me aware of my own mortality. I have always wanted to ride in the Pan Mass Challenge. The fundraising intimidated me. The idea of training for a two-day ride didn’t thrill me either. Yet I wanted my entry into my last half century to mean something. So I signed up for the Pan Mass Challenge and began the task of raising a minimum of $3200.
Many will raise a lot more than that. I hope to be one of those. But what’s really important to me is to set my karma straight.
Tim Haley will be one of many people with me on my ride in spirit. On approaching every hill, I’ll be asking for his help to power through. I’m not sure I’ll feel a tailwind or anything. But I will remember the words that Tim had engraved on a paperweight on his desk:
“When you are going through hell, keep going.” –Winston Churchill
My life is so far from hell, it’s not funny. Tim’s wasn’t, but you would never know it by the way he conducted himself in his last years. And that’s what will push me through to not only finish the ride, but hit my goal of $3800.
If you would like to help, please go tohttp://www2.pmc.org/profile/JD0448.