Livestrong’ in memory

Livestrong' in memory

by Emily Schettler/Staff Writer

Marcy Puck has been running for as long as she can remember. The Carroll resident and cost management specialist at Pella participated in track and cross country in high school. She ran her first marathon eight years go. But now running has taken on a special meaning for Puck.

As she trains for her second marathon in November, she does so with a new motivation. She’s entering the New York City Marathon with Tour de France cycling legend and high-profile cancer survivor Lance Armstrong’s running team in honor of her father, Roger Klaver, who passed away from kidney cancer in January at age 64.

“I feel like this would be such a neat thing to do in remembrance of Dad,” Puck said. “I knew that if I didn’t do it this year, right after his death, I would probably never do it. It’s still so close to my heart.”

Klaver was diagnosed with cancer in January of 2007. Puck said she remembers it as though it happened yesterday. “I got a phone call from the hospital in the middle of the night.”

Puck’s mother, Yvonne, had taken her dad to the emergency room with severe back pain. An ultra-sound revealed the devastating news. Doctors told Puck that kidney cancer is usually untreatable because it is often found late.

“They said that because of the location of the kidneys, the cancer has so much time to grow before the symptoms show up,” she said. “Doctors say he probably had cancer in his body for years.”

By the time it was diagnosed, the cancer had already spread to other organs. Doctors said that life expectancy at Klaver’s stage was one year.

“You really don’t know whether to believe that or not,” Puck said. “I was with my dad when he received this news for the first time and he just broke down. It’s very hard to see your dad so visibly upset.”

The family sought opinions from doctors across the state, but none extended Klaver’s life expectancy beyond one year. Klaver underwent surgery to have a kidney re-moved, he also tried several new drugs to stop progression of the cancer.

“He truly tried everything that the doctors suggested,” Puck said. “I think this shows how much he wanted to live, to spend retirement with my mom and to be with my family.”

Puck spent a lot of time with her father during that time. She went to his doc-tor’s appointments. She brought her daughter, Emily, who will be 2 in October, to visit him several times a week.

“He always said that Emily was the sunshine of his day,” she said. “I am just sad that she won’t even re-member him or what a great Grandpa he was.”

Klaver passed away in January. “We buried him on his one year anniversary,” Puck said. “It’s so hard to say good-bye but such a relief to know he was no longer in any pain. He told us that he was ready to go.”

After he passed away, Puck felt she had to do some-thing to promote cancer re-search and treatment.

“I think cancer research is a really important cause,” she said. “It’s close to my heart, especially more so now after what I’ve gone through with my dad.”

A friend gave Puck a DVD about the Livestrong Foundation, an organization founded by champion cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. The foundation sponsors teams to participate in sporting events around the world. In return for sponsor-ship the teams raise money for the foundation, which supports cancer patients and survivors and helps invest in cancer research. A team that participated in RAGBRAI last month raised more than $315,000.

Puck is one of 138 members on the NYC Marathon team. The team has a $381,500 fundraising goal. She had to apply to be a member on the team.

“I had to write a brief essay on why I was interested in participating, so obviously that was because of my dad.”

According to Puck every-one on the team seems to have close ties to cancer. Many are cancer survivors themselves or someone close to them has battled the disease. Puck has pledged to donate $3,500. She is covering all of the transportation costs herself, and all money raised through donations will go directly to the foundation. She said her main fundraising tool has been letters to friends and family members of herself and her father.

Last month she teamed up with Carroll Broadcasting to hold the $10,000 putting challenge at the popular Par Tee Golf outing. The event raised $1,400.

“I think cancer has really touched everybody in some shape or form, whether that be a friend or a family member or personally,” Puck said. “People are usu-ally pretty supportive. Especially in this area, people are generous to support a good cause.”

Livestrong is active in five different marathons, including New York, Boston, Chicago, London and Berlin. Puck said she chose to run in New York largely because she’d never been to the city. The route for the marathon runs through all five boroughs of the city before ending in Central Park.

“I’m excited to be able to see the whole city while I’m running,” Puck said. “I think finishing in Central Park will be neat.”

The New York City Marathon is the largest in the United States. In addition to drawing 39,000 runners, it attracts millions of spectators.

“They say there are 2 mil-lion spectators for the marathon” Puck said. Puck is traveling to New York with her husband, Nate. “We’re only going to be out there four days so we hope to take in a little of the city in addition to the marathon,” she said.

It’s been rumored that Lance Armstrong will speak to the group at a reception the night before the race.

Puck said she decided to run the marathon on her own but has received a lot of support since then.

“When I heard about it, I asked my husband what he thought, and he really pushed me toward it,” she said. “Obviously my family’s been pretty supportive of it as well. They think I’m in-sane to go and run 26 miles, but they’re glued in.”

Puck is looking forward to the race, although she knows it will be an emotional day.

“I’ve found even in the training that I’ve done, if I start to think about why I’m doing it, it gets emotional, and running a marathon is hard on your body anyway,” she said. “You’re pretty drained by the time you get to the end. That on top of why I’m doing it, crossing the finish line will definitely be emotional. I just kept thinking that dad will be pushing me along, getting me to that finish line.”