Miss A Columnist

As a 4-year Leukemia survivor, Stacey Mertes is heavily involved in fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and the American Diabetes Association. Her 7-year-old son, Logan, is a recently diagnosed Type 1 diabetic, but keeps Stacey on her toes with his own active fundraising endeavors such as the Columbia Tower climb (for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society), WaMu stair climb (for Cystic Fibrosis), and several triathlons and other stair climbs around the city. Originally from a suburb of Chicago, Stacey has lived in many of the local neighborhoods (including spending 11 years next to the Pike Place Market), since graduating from the University of Washington. She finally settled down in the most diverse zip code in the country, Columbia City, where she enjoys walks to the many restaurants, farmers market, and art events nearby. Her favorite hobby of late is finding the most fun “free” things to do around Seattle with her son. She loves movies, plays, visiting the Pacific Science Center and other museums, and finding those geocaching adventures.

Recap: Leukemia And Lymphoma Society’s Big Climb Seattle 2013

The Columbia Tower

The Columbia Tower in downtown Seattle, host to the Big Climb (photo credit: The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society)

The Big Climb, a stair climb up Columbia Tower in downtown Seattle, was Sunday, March 24, 2013. This was my fourth year, climbing with Team Love and my team of twelve amazing friends, the sixty-nine flights (1,311 stairs) for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). I’ll tell you, it doesn’t get any easier. Halfway up, I was debating whether I’d rather be having a lumbar puncture again or continuing up this tower. Of course, the answer was the tower, but in the moment…

Six thousand people went up that tower at some time on Sunday. The pictures of survivors and those who lost the battle on every floor of the stairwell along with so many brave personal stories helped keep them going. To shuttle 6000 people through Columbia Tower is no easy feat, but the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society successfully, smoothly, and with honor and grace for those dealing with the disease, do it every year.

Approximately every four minutes one person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer.  Every ten minutes, someone in the US dies from a blood cancer. This statistic represents nearly 145 people each day, or more than six people every hour. Leukemia causes almost one-third of all cancer deaths in children and adolescents younger than fifteen years.

The great news is that between 1999 and today, the likelihood of dying from most types of leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma has decreased mostly, in part, from the fundraising efforts that allow for the breakthroughs in medical science.

Seattle's Big Climb Team Love

Me (right) with Seattle’s city editor of Miss A, Lesley Haenny (middle), and Mary Kay Andersen at the top of Columbia Tower (photo credit: Stacey Mertes)

I was diagnosed six years ago, had three years of chemotherapy, was in the hospital ninety-six days in one year, had twelve spinal taps, almost 22,000 pills, and countless chemotherapy infusions, and am thankful to be in remission and be able to just do the climb at all.

The Big Climb has raised $1.55 million dollars so far, and the goal is $1.7 million by end of fiscal year. There is still time to donate and help make their goals and help save more lives at the Big Climb offical web site.

Leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), myeloma, and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are types of cancer that can affect the bone marrow, the blood cells, the lymph nodes, and other parts of the lymphatic system. These diseases are related cancers in the sense that they probably all result from acquired mutations to the DNA of a single lymph- or blood-forming stem cell.

The mission of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services.




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