Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Team Fish or Cut Bait: First Milestone!

Team Fish or Cut Bait has cleared it's first $1,000 in the fight to beat cancer! A huge thank you to those who have made contributions for your thoughtful support. An equally huge thank you to those of you who have e-mailed, called, PM'd and otherwise pledged your support for our ride.

Want to be a part of Team Fish or Cut Bait? CLICK HERE and follow the simple directions to make a pledge. No amount is too small - we just want you with us!

The Manifesto of the Lance Armstrong Foundation

We believe in life.
Your life.
We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being.
And that you must not let cancer take control of it.
We believe in energy: channeled and fierce.
We believe in focus: getting smart and living strong.
Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything.
This is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

We kick in the moment you’re diagnosed.
We help you accept the tears. Acknowledge the rage.
We believe in your right to live without pain.
We believe in information. Not pity.
And in straight, open talk about cancer.
With husbands, wives and partners. With kids, friends and neighbors. And the people you live with, work with, cry and laugh with.
This is no time to pull punches.
You’re in the fight of your life.

We’re about the hard stuff.
Like finding the nerve to ask for a second opinion.
And a third, or a fourth, if that’s what it takes.
We’re about getting smart about clinical trials.
And if it comes to it, being in control of how your life ends.
It’s your life. You will have it your way.

We’re about the practical stuff.
Planning for surviving. Banking your sperm. Preserving your fertility. Organizing your finances. Dealing with hospitals, specialists, insurance companies and employers.
It’s knowing your rights.
It’s your life.
Take no prisoners.

We’re about the fight.
We’re your champion on Capitol Hill. Your advocate with the healthcare system. Your sponsor in the research labs.
And we know the fight never ends.
Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life.
This is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Founded and inspired by one of the toughest cancer survivors on the planet.

We are Team Fish, and we believe in life. If you can support our ride, we would really appreciate it. CLICK HERE to contribute and become part of Team Fish. No amount is too small - we just want you with us!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

An Open Letter to Group Riders

Dear Sir or Madam,

You are going on a group ride. That means that you know when it is planned and that there will be other people on said ride. You know that the general format for these types of rides that includes pacelines. You know that in any given paceline there is likely to be someone in front of you and someone behind you.

Recognizing these facts, I think it would be in everyone's best interest if you followed some simple rules. First, wash your clothes and make sure the ones you are wearing are clean. Second, wash yourself - there is really no excuse for this, not even if you are French. When in Rome, do as the Romans, and when in America take a shower with soap and warm water. Third, if you can't do this, at least have the common courtesy/decency to roll on a little deodorant.

I know what you're trying to do. I know you believe there is nothing that instills the feeling of riding in Le Tour de France quite like being in a paceline behind a person who is clearly trying to emulate their favorite French rider. That being said, it is one of life's more unpleasant experiences to paceline behind someone who smells like they're rolling along with an army of elves grating onions underneath one's kit.

Please commit yourself to the aforementioned guidelines before our next club ride. Thank you in advance for your cooperation. Thank you.



Thursday, July 22, 2010

Team Fish or Cut Bait's Fourth Annual LiveSTRONG Ride

I remember asking God to make me more like Lance Armstrong (you're welcome, ladies). Four years ago, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Maybe I should have been more specific.

I went through a range of emotions when I was diagnosed: fear, confusion, depression, denial. But mostly I felt anger. Anger that this disease might take me away from my family and a full lifetime of memories with Mrs. Fish, that it might keep me from seeing my daughter graduate or get married or raise a family of her own. I vowed to fight cancer every moment, to take it out to the street and stomp it, to throw down the gloves and give it a Broad Street Bullies-style whupping. I've been in the battle ever since.

Regular readers of the Fish-Blog know my cancer story and have been instrumental in my survival. My team came together and I was incredibly blessed to have a strong family, an incredible team of doctors and nurses, and a group of friends who supported me in ways I never would have or could have imagined. You visited me, cooked for my family, cut my lawn, delivered care packages, e-mailed me, prayed for me, and supported me in my fight. I learned cancer, and more importantly, surviving cancer, is about people coming together.

Three years ago, we formed Team Fish or Cut Bait and went to the LiveSTRONG Challenge, a 100-mile bike ride in Philadelphia, to raise money to fight cancer. The first Challenge featured my brother, Patfish Hunter, and I riding through what was one of the most difficult and most amazing things I have ever done. Difficult because it was about 100 degrees with Pennsylvania's legendary humidity (if it's not hazy, hot, and humid, it's not August). Amazing because of the incredible outpouring of support I received and the people I met along the way. I was the very last person to cross the line of the 2007 LiveSTRONG Challenge. Yet, I can still hear the P-A system announcer saying: “NOW CROSSING THE LINE, NUMBER 468, ROBERT DUFFIELD. SURVIVOR!”

What started as my brother and I riding and a small, dedicated group of supporters who helped raise nearly $1,000 has evolved into a team of riders, and features nearly 100 people pledging their support to help us fight cancer and raising more than $4,000. Team Fish continues to grow because of the generous support we have received.

It's been a tough year. Last year, I dedicated a good portion of my ride to Collin Marsh, the two-year-old boy who fought so valiantly to beat a rare form of cancer. This year, I'll ride in his memory, thinking of the brave fight he put up, and how he inspired so many of us to be better people. As I was writing this, I heard from a guy I barely knew, a husband and father of two young children who is gearing up for the fight of his life. A man who helped form the foundations of my faith was diagnosed this year, and my Uncle Ted as well. We ride for all of them, for our friends and family and those dealing with the diagnosis of a mom or dad, a friend, a brother or sister, or even a child. You'll meet them throughout the course of the ramp-up to this year's event.

I am asking you to join Team Fish or Cut Bait once again. My friend Greg kicked things off in grand style, covering the ENTIRE RACE INSTALLMENT for me. My friend Bob quickly followed suit to get me started off and moving, and for their gifts, I am eternally grateful. If you'd like to join them and be part of Team Fish, we would LOVE to have you with us. I assure you no amount is too small -- all I want is to have you stand with us. It's easy: CLICK HERE to make a donation and become part of the team.

Now, who's with us?

Friday, July 16, 2010

National Stuttering Association Annual Conference: Part II

The best part of the NSA Conference is the people, and this year my family was very involved with the conference. Mrs. Fish gave a presentation for the third year on how to negotiate the Individualized Education Program to get the best services for your child. There have been a lot of changes and Mrs. Fish offered a lot of help to the parents there.

The highlight for me was the NSA All-Stars presentation. About a month ago, Li'l Fish was asked if she would like to give a 3-5 minute speech to the entire conference on a topic of her choice. She chose to speak about what it's like to be a kid who stutters, how to be an advocate for yourself, and how to stand up to bullies. After her speech, she sat with the other five panelists and answered questions. I have never been prouder.

Li'l Fish's speech:
I have to confess something before I start. When I started thinking about this speech, I really wasn’t sure what to start with or what I wanted to say. I’m just a kid who wants to advocate for myself and others who stutter. My name is [Li'l Fish](I know, it’s a long name to stutter on – it’s not my fault. I didn’t choose it). I am a twelve year-old from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and I want to talk about being a student who stutters, and how to be an advocate for yourself, especially against bullies.

Speaking in public used to scare me. I didn’t want to stand out from others. Now I know it’s good to stand out. I have been made fun of because I stutter. But, this is a place where I can be myself without worrying about other people’s criticism. People make fun of what they don’t understand. So if enough people understand stuttering, things will become easier for stutterers. Be an advocate: stand up for yourself. It took me a while to figure that out.

All of my friends know that I stutter and they’re okay with it. If people ask me what it is, then I tell them. I try to make as many people as aware as possible. If someone makes fun of me, it doesn’t matter. But, I try to tell them about stuttering, so they at least know what it is. My stuttering makes me special in my own way. And, I’m good just the way I am. Although I am very positive now, I wasn’t always this perky. It was hard for me to make friends when I switched schools this year. It may be hard for many of you to believe, but I was shy. Incredibly shy. People thought I was quiet because I didn’t like speaking, but they didn’t know why. Finally, I got tired of being ignored. It didn’t matter what people thought – I wanted to make friends. I met a girl named Mikala. I called her Kayla because saying the M-I made me stutter too much. After I opened up, we became close, and I started making many other friends. I had a friend who was pretty tall, almost 6 feet. When he heard someone making fun of me, he said he would help. Adjin had a “discussion” with the bully. The next day? No more bullying. I am glad he was there to help, but now I also know how to take care of myself.

I think all stutterers should be able to advocate for themselves without being scared. You are the only you (unless someone commits identity theft then there is two of you). But you shouldn’t let anyone bring you down.

Monday, July 12, 2010

National Stuttering Association Annual Conference: Part I

This marks the fourth year we have attended the National Stuttering Association's Annual Conference. My daughter started stuttering as soon as she started talking. Pediatricians and other specialists told us to relax, that she would grow out of it. Then they told us to lighten up, we were stressing her out. Then they told us to talk slowly (we're from Philadelphia - it's not happening). In our search for proper answers, we found the National Stuttering Association and it changed our lives, especially Li'l Fish.

This year, the conference was in Cleveland. Yes, Cleveland. I know, I thought the same thing, too. I mean, LeBron couldn't make it fun with $100 million dollars (We were in the city when he made his announcement. I thought they were going to burn the city down, but I think Clevelanders have pretty much resigned themselves to being the ones who get sooooo close they can taste excellence, only too get punched in the gut, doubled over and pounded into the mud. I think they knew LeBron was leaving before he did, because they have learned that disappoint follows Cleveland the way night follows day.) That being said, the city itself was a blast! It was far more fun than I thought it would be, and I was especially struck by the incredible friendliness of the people who live there. The restuarants where we ate were very good as well, with a big cheer for Chinato.

We did the obligatory tour of the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. I was prepared for a Hard Rock Cafe style of outlay and was completely blown away. The early years, showcasing how rock came from the blues and gospel and early country music was fascinating. Other highlights included the history of Austin City Limits; a Bruce Springsteen exhibit featuring his notebooks, interviews on his creative process and the Corvette he bought when he finally hit it big; there was a section on how different regions influenced and were influenced by the artists who played there (Liverpool in the Beatles era, Seattle and grunge, London and New York for punk). There were the costumes of Hendrix, Stevie Nicks, and of course, The King. The Pink Floyd exhibit was awesome as well, and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the 3-D U2 show...except for the conversations before the show. This really happened:
Guy 1: Oh, this is 3-D?
Guy 2: Yeah.
Guy 1: I didn't know this was going to be 3-D
Guy 2: You mean, "U2 3D" didn't give it away?
Guy 1: What?
Movie, mercifully, begins.

As a history teacher, I always thought of history in terms of conflict, with those eras and epochs determined by shifts in power, by victories and defeats. The Hall opened me to a new idea, that history could be defined and delineated by music. I like a museum that can challenge one's perceoption of how we view something, especially oof how we define ourselves. The Hall did that foor me, and such, is a must-see highlight of Cleveland. Spend a day there.

But the real highlight for me was, of course, the Conference itself.