A letter from Tyler Beam

I hope this finds everyone well.

Today, I'm writing to ask for your help in raising money to benefit children who are dealing with cancer in their lives by running the Papa John's 10 mile race on April 11. The donations raised will go directly to the nonprofit organization Gilda's Club Louisville (gildasclublouisville.org), which was founded by the late comedian Gilda Radner who died of ovarian cancer. There are more than 20 Gilda's Clubs across the country and I've been deeply involved with the Louisville chapter as a board member since 2004 when a standing board was all that existed. Since the red doors of Gilda's Club officially opened in October 2007, 1,100 people have become Club members, and it's the donations that keep the free-of- charge Club running effectively. The foundation of The Club was built on providing emotional support to men, women, and children, and their loved ones, who are affected by the deadly disease of cancer. I always like to say Gilda's Club is a type of cancer treatment you can't receive from an IV drip, or a type of cancer treatment you can't receive from a radiation beam.

As some of you know I've been battling brain cancer since 2003 (however, my first diagnosis and surgery occurred in 1999), and often find it hard to believe I'm a three-time cancer survivor at 32. Three surgeries performed, 33 rounds of radiation administered, and more than two years of chemo stubbornly accepted come October when these twelve months of treatment conclude. Fully understanding, and almost embracing, this terminal disease long ago, seldom has there been a shortage of important choices and difficult challenges in this journey. Incredible moments of joy have far outweighed the few moments of pain, but I see those feelings as dull compared to when my 3-year-old son, Tyler, asks what brain cancer means. Sure, it will be years until he understands the entire definition of brain cancer, but these thoughts began to surface after Michele and I visited Tyler as he celebrated his third birthday at school.

Tyler excitedly showed us around class and did something unusual when he introduced me to his teacher. Tyler said, "This is my daddy...look at his boo-boo."  (Referring to the large scars on my bald head.) Those simple words stuck and magnified my greatest fear about cancer. It's not about the parents who unexpectedly find themselves in situations like ours; it's the frightened kids, often without compass or companionship in the cancer world, I worry about most.

Imagine what you would say to your child in your own cancer conversation. I'm asking for donations to Gilda's Club because children like Tyler, or children who are living with cancer, deserve their own place to feel normal. Finding other children at Gilda's Club who are going through similar situations makes all the difference in the world. While it will be comforting to tell our children they will never lose their daddy to brain cancer, it will be far more comforting with Gilda's Club in our lives because we know we'll never lose them in our journey.

With the cold winter, and six months into my chemo, I've done little training. So while I won't be setting a finish time goal for the race, I am setting a fundraising goal of $5,000. Many of you have donated several times before, and if you are comfortable doing so again I can't thank you enough. Whether you decide to donate or not, please forward this along to anyone you know who might be interested in donating to Gilda's Club Louisville.

Michele, Ellie, T-Bone and I can't thank you enough and I'll see you at the finish line!

This link will send you directly to my page where you can donate - it only takes a minute or two, I promise.