Dom Update … Setbacks are part of the journey too

Posted: February 4, 2010 in Motivation

This morning I wanted to take some time away from running tips, race reports, clothing reviews and training runs to update everyone on our hero Dom.  For those of you who are new to following the blog – Dominic D’Eramo is the inspiration behind Run for Dom and the motivation for me to race in two major marathons just 13 days apart this spring.

One month ago I posted an update on Dom’s condition (click here for the January 7th update):

Dom & Dawn Christmas Eve

At the time my wife Dawn and I had just celebrated the Christmas holidays in Dom’s hometown of Pittsburgh, PA and were fortunate enough to spend some time with Dom, his wife Val, daughter Sierra and son Nico.

Dom was fighting his way back from his surgery six weeks prior, gaining strength and preparing for his next and hopefully final three rounds of chemotherapy treatments scheduled for January, February and March.  I was struggling through shin splint issues and was in the middle of a frustrating 4-week battle to continue my training while injured.

Four weeks later and how the tide has turned.  A little bit of rest, rehabilitation, stretching, icing and a slow (for me) return to running has our marathoner back at 100% and training harder each week preparing to make Dom proud on April 19th at Boston.

As positive as the news has been for me, Dom has suffered a bit of a set-back in his recuperation from last week’s chemotherapy treatment.  First the good news, Dom’s PET scan (or positron emission tomography scan) which is a unique type of imaging test that helps doctors see how organs and tissues are functioning came back clean and clear.  Great, great news as Dom’s surgery and treatment course really seems to have gone as well as could be expected.

Dom Post-Surgery

The major surgery however which included the removal of Dom’s stomach, spleen and parts of a few adjoining organs as well as a hot chemotherapy “bath” to further treat the area has made getting the daily nutrition Dom needs a huge challenge.  Dom’s ability to take in enough solid foods and liquids has been dramatically reduced.  In order to receive the 2,000 calories of daily nutrition Dom has had to remain on a feeding tube for 8 hours virtually every day since his recovery.

The hope was that an improved diet would enable Dom to build his strength to the point where last week’s 24-hour chemotherapy treatment would not knock him down so dramatically.  Unfortunately the pain and discomfort associated with eating simply did not allow for that to occur. 

It turns out that part of the reason Dom was struggling from a nutrition standpoint was the J tube (feeding tube) had become dislodged and some nutients were not being absorbed properly into Dom’s system.  To help Dom recover from his latest round of chemotherapy he was readmitted to the hospital on Tuesday (2-2) for three days to get the proper nutrition and hydration his body needs to move forward in his recovery.  Sometimes it takes a setback to make you realize just how far you’ve come.  It is all part of the journey.

I’ve mentioned to my wife on a few occasions that perhaps my injury this December was a blessing in disguise.  It made me realize that I was not Superman – (we all know I’m actually a rocket ship) – I was forced to come to grips with the fact that I was not infallible.  As an aging 42 year-old marathoner I needed to not only be physically tough to complete two major marathons in two weeks, but mentally tough as well.  I need to train hard but also train smart. Sometimes skipping a workout or taking an extra rest day is exactly what is needed to continue to improve and grow stronger.

Wednesday’s 7-mile training run took place in less than ideal conditions.  Steady rain, 43 degrees, and 10-12 mph winds – I think the description I used when I returned from my run was “craptastic” – however the rain and solitude of an early morning run was very soothing and helped me put everything in its proper perspective.  It is amazing how in just under an hour (51:01) things can become so clear.

Dom Sr., Dom Jr., Val

Dom’s readmission to the Pittsburgh Medical Center this week when looked at without the proper perspective could be seen as a significant setback.  But given where we were one-month ago, and one month before that – this is just a blip on the radar as Dom continues to move further ahead and closer to remission and recovery.

75 days remain to Boston, 88 days to Pittsburgh – it will be amazing to see how far we’ve traveled at that point and how little a quick hospital visit, a sore shin or a little bit of rain on a Wednesday morning meant in the grand scheme of things.  It’s all just part of the journey.

I wanted to thank all of our RFD supporters, mile-sponsors, friends on Twitter, Facebook, Daily Mile and Run for Dom who continue to encourage and inspire.  I appreciate all that you have done and continue to do in support of this effort and our hero Dom.

Dom – keep fighting – you are the man.

For information about how you can help please visit:

  1. onelittlejill says:

    I think what you are doing for Dom is wonderful- you are right…Dom is the man!!!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jill – thanks so much for stopping by and the note – you are so right – He is absolutely the man. It’s an honor to be able to play even a small role in making a difference for Dom and his family. Thanks so much for all your support! Best, Joe

  2. Lara says:

    Joe, I was just telling some friends about Dom and you last night. I’m glad to read the update, and see how things are progressing. It’s amazing when you realize that the path to the end-goal (remission and recovery) is never a straight shot. What looks like a set-back often is a twist in the road. I appreciate your insights more than you’ll know. This post is applicable to almost every life that I can think of; we often think we’re in the midst of a set-back but that’s only because we can’t see the road ahead.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Lara – thanks so much for the visit and the kind words. I think you really hit the nail on the head. The right perspective is such a valuable thing and is so elusive. Early on I thought that the physical side of marathoning was the challenge – as you know it turns out that it is really the mental side that is hardest to prepare for.

      In Dom’s case I think we all thought the surgery was going to be the highest hurdle – and now it is the final stages of adaptation, nutrition and again mental strength that is proving to be the challenge. I could not be more proud of the fight inside of Dom and the courage he shows everyday. It is a humbling experience to be playing even the smallest of roles in helping him.

      Thanks again Lara – looking forward to catching up soon. Best, Joe

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