As a reminder, I’ve dedicated 2017 to running and raising money for Fred’s Team, which supports cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering. As part of my fundraising, I will occasionally share stories with you here on Jess Runs ATL. Today’s story is the first in that series. If you are moved to do so, please consider making a donation to support life saving cancer research to help me reach my goal of $10,000.
Today is a somber day. Four years ago on April 6th, Lou Balot lost his battle to cancer just a few months after being diagnosed. Lou was a close friend of the family, more specifically, my father. They knew each other much of their Navy careers. I have fond memories of spending summers at the pool on the Navy Base with Lou’s wife, Cindy, and his two daughters. There is a special bond that is shared between military families, and there are a handful of families that seem to always stay connected throughout the years. The Balots are one of those families to ours, and his passing had an impact on all of us.
Today, Lou’s wife, Cindy, is sharing the story of her and Lou:
I met Lou on December 22, 1986. We were introduced by mutual friends. Lou was in the Navy. He was stationed in Norfolk, VA and I was living in Philadelphia. We got engaged April 23, 1987 and were married April 16, 1988. Our daughter, Lauren, was born in 1990 at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, VA. Meghan was born in 1993 in Glens Falls, NY. He had many different jobs in the Navy. We were stationed in Norfolk, Saratoga Springs, and Pittsburgh over his 30 year career.
Lou was a very special person. Very kind and caring. A wonderful husband and fantastic dad. Everyone loved him. He loved cleaning and doing dishes! He didn’t cook so this was his thing. He was always very involved with his girls. He was a band parent when they were in high school. He even went on school trips to Disney even when his daughters didn’t go. He loved sports. Even though he was from Philly, he was a Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates fan. We had Penguins season tickets. He even got to meet Mario Lemieux!
Lou was diagnosed with melanoma a few days before his Navy retirement ceremony in November 2012. He had a new job that would be starting in a few months. He had a mole on his shoulder. At the beginning it was just surgical. Within a few months we were told that it had spread to his liver and lungs. It progressed quickly from there. He had chemotherapy, radiation, blood transfusions, and a few surgeries. He passed away on April 6, 2013.
Lou was never a sun person. He always wore sunscreen and a hat and shirt when outside. The doctors were never able to determine a definitive cause for his cancer. I know that he would tell everyone to stay out of the sun and always wear sunscreen and protective clothing if they are going to be outside in the sun.
Imagine a World Without Cancer
I can’t thank Cindy enough for sharing the story of Lou. Fred’s Team’s motto is “Imagine a World Without Cancer”, and I can’t help but think about what that means here. A world without cancer means that I wouldn’t be writing this post, that Cindy and her girls would still have their hero in their lives. It means that they’d be enjoying Lou’s retirement from the Navy and maybe taking fun vacations around the world.
Thinking about the Balots breaks my heart in many ways. There are so many similarities to the Balots and the Nelsons, and cancer is so common….it could very of easily been my family. Or your family. Or your neighbor’s family. Cancer takes so many forms and doesn’t discriminate age, gender, veteran status, race, etc. We must continue to push for better preventative screenings, better treatments, and ultimately, a cure. This is why I am running for Fred’s Team. I am running because I can imagine a world without cancer.Imagine a world without #cancer: Remembering Lou and fundraising for @fredsteam Click To Tweet
This weekend, I will run my 11th half marathon, and I am dedicating my race to Lou.
I will be wearing a custom made tank top (made by my mom!) and will run each mile thinking of him and his family.
Will you consider making a donation and supporting my race in honor of Lou?
A donation of $13.10 will represent $1 for each mile I will run this weekend; $65.50 will represent a $5 per mile pledge. You can click here to donate in memory of Lou.
Thank you again to Cindy for sharing Lou’s story; I know that it wasn’t easy. Thank you all for reading and for your support as I run towards this goal.