My name is Nicole Fujie. I Pineapple in memory of my mom, Nola Fujie, who lost her battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in November 2018. She was diagnosed in 2016 and even underwent a stem cell transplant at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in February 2018. This gave us 8 more months with her that I will forever treasure. However, in October her cancer was back and my mom passed peacefully at home in Hawaii with her dogs and family by her side. I Pineapple with hopes of finding a cure for blood cancer. It didn’t help my mom but it can help someone else beat cancer.
I’m McKenzie, the Campaign Manager for Pineapple. My mom, Lynette Johnson was diagnosed with incurable non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May of 2012. A date that will forever be seared in my memory, and subsequently spurred me on my own path to recovery. In the following years she has had 4 different treatments, all giving us a year to a year and a half in between. Chemo, CAR-T, radiation and most of an autologous stem cell transplant (they pulled the actual transplant at the last minute). Over the years our family started fundraising for LLS and ultimately I started working here. Pineapple gives me an outlet to help other families like my own, and hopefully give my mom a few more years with us.
On October 10, 2009, when he was 21 months old, my son Ryan was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, or AML. Being so small at the time, he had no understanding of what was happening or how rare and precarious his situation was. On October 11, 2009, his mom and dad and the rest of his family made a decision. We decided that Ryan would never look into the faces of those he loved and depended on and see fear, or pity, or sorrow. Ryan’s friends and family knew that he would learn how to deal with his diagnosis and treatment in the way he was shown by others. It was a very conscious decision that anyone who came into contact with Ryan would only display strength, love, compassion, and most of all, positive energy and hope for the future.
Ryan’s various treatment phases came and went, and ultimately he received a bone marrow transplant on Thanksgiving Day of 2010. Team Ryan gave thanks indeed! Throughout this journey, Ryan has soaked up all that strength, love, compassion and hope, and has blossomed into quite a remarkable little man. His parents attribute this in equal parts to excellent medical care, but also the spirit and support of Team Ryan, Ryan’s friends and family, who are truly the most unbelievably loving and generous group of people on this planet.
During Ryan’s first round of chemotherapy at Seattle Children’s, his dad Mark was recruited by a few members of Team Ryan, close friends, to participate in the Winter Pineapple Classic. At the time, it seemed a good way to alleviate some of the stress of the situation and to actively DO something to fight the disease invading Ryan’s little body. The event itself seemed like a great fit for Team Ryan. “Have fun, get dirty, and join the fight against blood cancers.”
Since then, seeing Ryan and other children benefit from so many of the advances funded by the LLS, supporting the fundraising efforts through the Winter Pineapple Classic have become even more important to Team Ryan. Survival rates of those sharing Ryan’s diagnosis continue to improve, miraculous treatments like the bone marrow transplant are continually refined and made safer and more successful, and patients undergoing treatment can expect a better quality of life overall as a result of the work of the LLS.
Ryan thanks you from the bottom of his full, happy heart for your involvement in this event and your support of this amazing event!
Terence "Q" Quong and I participated, donated and supported the LLS Big Climb Seattle (March 2015) as part of a personal fitness challenge. Never did we imagine the reversal of roles from that of 'donor' to 'recipient'. Following Q's Acute Myeloid Leukemia diagnosis in 2017, the LLS community rallied and proffered solace and support, and tremendously helped ease our journey.
Over the course of nearly a year, my 6’1 warrior went from paddling multitudes of miles at a robust weight of 193 -- to needing help with nearly all aspects of daily life and struggling to maintain a weight of 145. When someone you love is sick, you feel helpless. I couldn’t make lumbar punctures more comfortable, I couldn’t make the pain meds not itch, I couldn’t turn off the constant nausea, chills, fevers, vomiting. And I could not offer a cure. But, LLS offered us hope. It gave us relief, and provided us a community, and with that we received in abundance emotional and mental fortitude.
While we have been active for many years, getting out and about now serves a more meaningful purpose. I support and participate in LLS's Pineapple Run to celebrate the wins, and to honor those still fighting. I also run to remember those who have been lost to the monster that is cancer. I run not only for Q, but also for my Uncle Tan, and friends Joscelyn, Heinzbert, Brandon, Mike, Dave, Chandra, Rich... and too many others.
To be able to do what I love while also generating awareness and relief is an inexplicable joy. It will be the first of many steps towards reciprocity. Because gratitude is the best attitude. Thank you for joining me in this opportunity to give back.
Live. Love. Give.
Statement by President Obama 10/13/2015
Seven years ago, like a lot of young people, Brandon Lepow got into politics because he believed he could change his country for the better. And in his time on the campaign trail and in the White House, both as a traveling aide and as a spokesman, he was tireless in that effort hardworking, cheerful, one of the most unfailingly kind and gracious people I’ve had the honor to know. He was someone that any American could be proud to have working on their behalf.
Last night, we lost Brandon after a long battle with leukemia. It’s a testament to his dedication to others that, over the past few months, more than fifty of his White House colleagues traveled to spend time with him and support his family as he underwent treatment in Texas. We all have heavy hearts today and all of us, Michelle and I included, share our condolences and all our support with Brandon’s family, his legion of friends, and his wonderful and courageous wife, Theresa. Theirs is one of the great love stories. They, in many ways, kept the rest of us going. And Theresa will always be a part of our family.
To know Brandon Lepow was to know that he didn’t need to get into politics to change the world, after all. He made his thirty-two years count. And those of us who knew him are better for it.
Russell “Rusty” Sinnott began his journey with blood cancer when diagnosed with Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance or (MGUS). This was discovered when he went in for a check-up due to high blood pressure and his blood test showed this abnormal protein in his blood. He then met with Dr. Oliver Batson who shared that this abnormal protein can lead to myeloma cancer. Then the waiting and monitoring stage began and it lasted for several years before it was time to start treatment. In November of 2013 the blood tests and bone marrow biopsy showed that he had progressed into smoldering myeloma. More waiting with routine blood tests until the myeloma was ready to be treated. In late 2015 Rusty moved out of smoldering myeloma into full blown multiple myeloma and became a candidate for an autologous (your own) stem cell transplant. This was scheduled for January of 2016. He and his wife Carlene moved into the Pete Gross house near Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and his treatment began in earnest. He was extremely blessed by his team at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance led by Dr. Edward Libby III. His team “Violet” was top notch and very supportive throughout each step of the process. Not only to him, but to Carlene. After the transplant he went on maintenance chemo and was taking chemo pills daily. He had to be very careful with his body, as the multiple myeloma has affected his bones in many parts of his skeleton. Rusty’s family and friends began to support the Winter Pineapple Classic in 2013 when Rusty’s daughter-in-law, Trisha, wanted to do something meaningful to raise awareness for blood cancers, to raise funds to battle this disease, and to bring hope to those fighting. We will miss Rusty tremendously and carry his memory with us always.
On September 23, 2014, just four days after her wedding day, Kelly was diagnosed with one of the rarest forms of Leukemia called Atypical Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (aCML). Treatment for this disease was to go through chemotherapy in order to get her ready to receive a bone marrow transplant. On July 7th, 2015 Kelly started treatment at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. After a hard and long month and a half of receiving radiation and Chemo she was finally ready to receive her bone marrow transplant. On August, 19th 2015 Kelly received her bone marrow. After her transplant things were improving. Her energy was up, her pain seemed to be more tolerable, things were looking good. Then about 30 days after the transplant her skin started to change to a darker color and she was in horrible pain. Her body was not accepting her new marrow. She had Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) both on her skin and in her gut. With her immune system completely gone and antibiotics not working, the GVHD stated attacking Kelly’s liver. Within short week Kelly went into liver failure.
She passed away on November 15th, 2015 at he age of 27. Kelly was a beautiful and loving person whose life was taken way too soon by this horrible disease. We run in memory of Kelly Rice. We run in memory and honor of all those who have been effected by this disease in hopes we will find a cure!
My name is Rich Imperatore, just like my father. In September of 2018, dad was having some health problems and eventually went in for some tests. After almost a month with no answers, the doctors eventually determined that he had Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He was steely in his resolve this was just a “blip” and he was going to beat it. That was his attitude with everything in life, and we believed if anyone could overcome the disease, it was him.
He went through one round of chemo and showed great progress, but not enough for the blood marrow transplant he would need to win the battle. He felt strong, and was walking upwards of 5 miles a day around the hospital wing where he was staying the doctor walked in one day and nearly dropped his clipboard at the sight of my dad doing curls with dumbbells while sitting in his room. This guy didn’t seem like a typical patient especially given the results of the regular tests he was undergoing. His spirit was intact, and he was still striving for victory.
Unfortunately the second round of chemo was also unsuccessful, and my dad continued to have further complications from both the disease and the treatment. He spent his birthday (December 8) and Christmas in ICU, but bounced back enough to try a third round of chemotherapy. The devastation that this disease had on his body was too great at that point, but he never gave up in the fight, and his spirit was strong even though he was clearly suffering and coming to grips with the fate he was facing.
We lost my father on January 24, 2019 I learned the news while sitting at his kitchen table early that morning waiting for the rest of the family to get ready to ride into the City to see him. As I got the message a torrential downpour started. We rode to Sloan Kettering to say goodbye - and the rain never stopped. It wasn’t until the evening when we were all back at his home that the rain finally subsided, and the sun came out. Our family was in absolute awe at the full arc of a DOUBLE RAINBOW that was in the sky directly in front of my father’s house on Long Island. The texts and calls were pouring in from our friends and loved ones everyone saw, and everyone KNEW it was him.
My dad was my coach growing up whether it was baseball, basketball, soccer or anything else he was there to teach me how to compete with tenacity, but also respect for your opponents. The lessons I learned were easily translated into almost any task, competition, or struggle in life and I knew I had to keep going in the fight against AML, and other forms of blood cancer, through fundraising and participation with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
My first Winter Pineapple Classic was in November 2018 I’d signed up before my dad was diagnosed, and participated in the event while he was undergoing chemotherapy back in New York. We spoke on the phone daily, and he always wanted to focus the conversation on me and what I was doing, where I had been, and where I was going. Even though we lost my dad to Leukemia, I knew without any shadow of a doubt that he would have wanted me to keep the fight going in his honor the opponent had earned our respect, but we could provide the tenacity to someday overcome it.
I’m staying in the fight, along with the support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, to provide hope and support for the patients and their families whose lives are torn apart by blood cancer. I believe in the people who are working behind the scenes to make this mission a reality and I have a level of respect for everyone involved in the process that I can’t effectively express with words. I often think back to the double rainbow on the evening of my father’s passing and remembering that feeling of hope and inspiration in that devastating time keeps me motivated to stay the course and defeat the brutal adversary that is blood cancer in honor of my father’s memory, and everything he taught me.