Love people, hate cancer: Paul Lemle is riding (a bike!) to Key West
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Love people, hate cancer: Paul Lemle is riding (a bike!) to Key West
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Like most of my 42-year old peers, I spend a lot of time talking about my family (three boys under nine--yikes!) and my job.  A story that almost never crosses my lips anymore is how I was diagnosed with cancer fifteen years ago this February.

It started, as many things do in the lives of young men, with a beer.  I had a sharp pain in my lower back, just above my waist on the right side.  "My dad has the occasional kidney stone," I thought.  It went away with some tylenol, but would return repeatedly for the next several months.  I lost a couple of pounds, and didn't have my normal appetite.  The first time I went to the doctor for the back pain, he sent me home with a book of exercises and a prescription for muscle relaxers.  

At the time, I was living pretty rough.  We had no money; I was playing in a great, fun, loud, hard-drinking rock band.  We were driving hundreds of miles every week.  We slept on uncomfortable sofas and college apartment floors.  I was lifting heavy equipment into weird clubs, eating gas station food, staying up late, avoiding the sun and the fresh air (remember bars and nightclubs before all the anti-smoking laws?).  But I gradually realized there was something else going on--something very wrong.  In quick succession, I noticed a lump above my left collarbone, developed a fever and cold I couldn't shake, and the pain in my back had me hobbling around using a golf club like a cane.  The craziest thing was waking up in a sudden, full-body sweat as though I had lifted weights in a sauna, the infamous "night sweat."  It was so bad I had to shower to cool off, and it was happening a couple times every night.

So I went back to my doctor.  He did a blood test, a chest X-ray, and then started scaring the crap out of me.  He asked if I used intravenous drugs, had unprotected sex, and wondered aloud why a young person like me would have a wild infection in my lungs.  And he sent me directly to the hospital; it was all I could do to get him to let me go home and pick up some clothes.  It was a Thursday night and my future wife was leaving town for a bridal shower.  I had more tests, and the next morning a new doctor came around to "give it to me straight."  Without family or friends present, she said I had "leukemia, lymphoma, or HIV," all of which were outpatient things, so "go home--enjoy the weekend."   

Cindy didn't make that shower, mom was directly to the rescue with the magic homemade soup, and my friends rallied.  One nailed the eventual diagnosis (Hodgkin's Lymphoma) by remembering the fairly recent retirement/return of Mario Lemieux.  A fellow musician brought me more books and magazines than one person could possibly read.  A buddy from Mobile took me for the best steak of my life.  But I felt very, very alone.  I was seriously ill, and had an uncertain future.  

You probably know the rest of the story.  In February 1999, my lymph nodes were so enlarged they had crushed some of my vertebrae, leaving me barely able to walk.  I knew of no one with a similar condition, and without the support of dozens of people could never have made it through eight months of chemotherapy.  Today, I've been a husband and teacher for more than a decade, with something like 1500 former students and the aforementioned three boys keeping my mind and body active.

So, in an effort to make the world a better place, I've decided to replace a guy named Lance as the world's greatest cyclist/cancer fundraiser.  I'm riding my bike from Key Highway, Baltimore to Key West, Florida this April with the Ulman Cancer Fund.  UCF specializes in bringing cancer patients into a community--and that is exactly what we need to win the fight.

 

ABOUT Key to Keys 2014

TEAM FIGHT Key to Keys was established to give individuals an opportunity to create a community of support for those affected by cancer, while cycling down the Atlantic Coast through some of the most beautiful parts of the United States.

Below is a video of last year's ride and the experience that went along with the journey. Check it out, share it, and enjoy!

 

Supporters
Name Date Amount Comments
Arlene R. Rinaldo 04/15/2014 $100.00  
Jean LaFarree 04/13/2014 $30.00  
Pat Fellows 04/13/2014 $50.00 Kill it out there boss.
Carolyn & Kelly AuCoin 04/13/2014 $50.00 congratulations on this year's effort!
Allison Goldberg 04/12/2014 $25.00 Hooray, Lems!!! Hope you are having a wonderful trip! It is great to see your pics! Can't wait to hear all about it
Max Lenowitz 04/11/2014 $25.00 Keep it up guys!! You're all more of an inspiration than you will ever know!
Amanda Stemen 04/10/2014 $50.00  
James Walsh 04/10/2014 $100.00  
Holly Parker 04/08/2014 $25.00  
Michelle and Christina Bagley 04/08/2014 $25.00 Christina and I wish you a safe journey.
Stephanie Masters 04/07/2014 $20.00  
Kathie Hiatt 04/07/2014 $100.00 You are amazing! Have a safe ride
Pam Bresnahan 04/07/2014 $20.00 Paul - You are AWESOME!!! Thank you for all your efforts to raise funds for this worthwhile cause!
Donna Campagna 04/05/2014 $300.00 Safe ride, Paul! What a great cause!
Michael Adams 04/05/2014 $100.00 Thank you, Paul!
Newbie :) 04/05/2014 $50.00 Safe riding!
Corryn Freeman 04/05/2014 $25.00 In honor of Bowyer Gates Freeman and Barbara Chaney. Two amazing people who gave cancer a run for it's money! Thanks Mr. Lemle for doing this!
Bonnie Pettebone 04/05/2014 $25.00 Have a wonderful time on your journey.
Anonymous Friend 04/04/2014 $100.00  
Susan Denning 04/04/2014 $50.00  
Janet Bloom 04/03/2014 $50.00 Good Luck Paul - Ride Safely
Margaret Haik 04/03/2014 $50.00 Be safe & have fun, Paul! You're doing great work!
Susan Plaut 04/02/2014 $25.00 Good luck on your amazing ride!
Sybil Modispacher 04/02/2014 $25.00 Good Luck, Paul!!! You are awesome!!!
Andy Veliuona 04/01/2014 $25.00 Good luck, Paul - wish I was heading to Key West with you again this year.
Shannon Hebert 04/01/2014 $50.00 Go Paul Go! your passion and commitment are inspiring! Love, Shannon, Amy, and the kiddos, Wesley & Leo :)
Lisa Otero 04/01/2014 $100.00  
Jeff Robinson 03/31/2014 $50.00 Good Luck Paul. Keep up the good fight.
Mavis Ellis 03/31/2014 $25.00  
Dana Mendlen 03/31/2014 $100.00 Ride on, Paul. So proud of and inspired by you, as always. Please give my love to your amazing wife and boys. Can't wait to see you all soon!
Elisa Lemaire 03/31/2014 $20.00  
Tony & Debbie Fontana 03/31/2014 $25.00 Ride like the wind blows!!!
Buzz & Lauretta Kerr 03/31/2014 $100.00 Thanks for making a difference!
Maxine Salah 03/30/2014 $20.00 May God continue to bless you and the team!. Shalom!
Betty Weller 03/28/2014 $50.00  
Raymond Brown 03/27/2014 $25.00  
Wendy Royalty 03/27/2014 $25.00 Wishing you all the best!
Mark Blom 03/27/2014 $100.00  
Maleeta Kitchen 03/26/2014 $50.00 Awesome.
James Dolphin 03/26/2014 $100.00  
Chad Stemen 03/26/2014 $50.00  
Susan Poisson-Dollar 03/26/2014 $100.00 Have a great ride again this year Paul! Good cause.
Kristy Anderson 03/25/2014 $100.00  
Chris Strickland 03/25/2014 $40.00 Kick butt Paul! Safe riding!!!
Robin Wilson 03/24/2014 $100.00 Amazing Paul! Good luck on your fundraising goal and your ride!
Mary May 03/21/2014 $100.00 Thank you for riding and making a difference
Abby Ramirez 03/18/2014 $50.00 Keep kickin cancer's butt, Paul!! You are seriously the coolest!!! Have fun!!!! :)
Danika Waddell 03/18/2014 $50.00 Good luck Paul!!!
Colleen Morris 03/17/2014 $200.00  
Patricia Lemle Travis 03/17/2014 $50.00 Stay safe and enjoy our Florida weather!
David Honrath 03/15/2014 $25.00  
William Rowell 03/15/2014 $25.00  
Wanda Muir-Oliver 03/15/2014 $20.00  
Barbara Turvey 03/15/2014 $100.00 Have a great ride, Paul!
Adam Mendelson 03/14/2014 $100.00 Have a great ride!
Rachael LoBosco 03/14/2014 $100.00  
Clarence Lam 03/14/2014 $50.00 Happy to support this great cause! All the best Paul!
Geoffrey Painter 03/12/2014 $100.00  
Nayab Siddiqui 03/11/2014 $100.00 Keep up the good work for a good cause.
Alan Becknell 03/11/2014 $100.00  
Matthew Vaughn-Smith 03/09/2014 $20.97 Best of Luck to you and thank you for taking on such a worth cause!
Anonymous Friend 03/08/2014 $100.00  
Hazel Bradford 03/06/2014 $20.00  
Angel Belt (and Ariel Tann) 03/05/2014 $50.00 Dear Mr. Lemle...ride on!! We're rooting for you and a cure for Cancer!!
Sue Williamson 03/05/2014 $25.00  
Courtney Watson 03/04/2014 $50.00 Best of luck for a great ride!
Natalie Janiszewski 03/04/2014 $25.00  
Victoria Russell 03/03/2014 $100.00 Have been impressed by you as an educator, but beyond respectful of you as a person and fighter. Have a great ride!!!
Anonymous Friend 03/03/2014 $25.00  
Dana Kelley 03/02/2014 $100.00  
Vanessa Lichliter 03/02/2014 $20.00 Thank you for everything you do!
Kerri Shepet 03/02/2014 $50.00 Paul, thanks so much for leading the fight for Howard County teachers. Best of luck to you!
Anonymous Friend 03/01/2014 $10.00  
Deeba Jafri 03/01/2014 $50.00 Good Luck!
C Lewis 02/26/2014 $70.00 Matching friends' donations from V Day challenge
Charles Dennison 02/26/2014 $100.00  
Herman S. Whitter 02/26/2014 $100.00 A worthy cause!
Jenny Magliolo 02/23/2014 $100.00 Thanks for all you are doing to beat this! Vince and Jenny Magliolo
Pastor Barbara Wise 02/23/2014 $100.00 Grace and peace...we the Pastors (Pastor Linda Firman and members) of Always Abiding in God Ministry of Jessup, MD would are pleased to donate $100 to your fundraising efforts for the Ken Ulman Cancer Fund. We praise God for your healing and others to come.
Lance and Karin Landrum 02/21/2014 $150.00 Kick some butt, Paul! Ride safe.
Mike Whaley 02/21/2014 $100.00 Best wishes Paul. We really admire your courage and the battle you waged for yourself and now for others. Mike and Toni Whaley
Brian Miller 02/21/2014 $50.00 Ride on!
Lynn Birdsong 02/20/2014 $20.00 You are an inspiration and gift to so many! Thanks for sharing your story and your dedication to beat cancer and live your life in service for all!
Trent Kittleman 02/18/2014 $50.00 Paul--Thank you for sharing your story with us.
Denise Lemle 02/18/2014 $20.00 For the ride!
Natalie Mesko 02/18/2014 $100.00 Go Paul go! So proud you continue to work hard on behalf of young adults with cancer. God Bless You and your team on your journey.
Emily Goldberg 02/18/2014 $20.00 Thank you for being such an amazing person! You and your family mean so much to my sister!
Elaine Goldberg 02/18/2014 $20.00 Ride Mr. Lemle, ride!!!!
Nan Collins 02/18/2014 $100.00 Ride strong.
Clay Drewes 02/17/2014 $25.00  
Anonymous Friend 02/15/2014 $250.00  
Anna Zelenak 02/14/2014 $200.00 100 from Alex and 100 from me. Go Lemle/Walsh-Lemle family!!!
Julie Zelenak 02/14/2014 $25.00 Good luck!
RoseMarie FitzSimons 02/14/2014 $100.00 You rock Paul, and you are very inspiring! Have FUN!
Casey & Bobby Fradella 02/12/2014 $30.00 Thanks for the inspiration!
Durant Gipson 02/11/2014 $50.00  
Michael Adams 02/11/2014 $50.00 Paul, more than ever, we understand and appreciate your efforts and good deeds toward fighting this disease.
Feli Sola-Carter 02/11/2014 $25.00  
Michaela Tummings 02/11/2014 $5.00 Keep doing what you're doing, Mr. Lemle. You continue to inspire me every day.
Paul Lemle 02/11/2014 $20.00  
Jennifer Bezy 02/10/2014 $20.00  
Amy Maloney 02/10/2014 $100.00 Thanks for working so hard and for so many Paul!
Kathleen Stacy 02/10/2014 $250.00 Stay strong.
Stephen Walsh 02/10/2014 $100.00  
Janice Petrovich 02/10/2014 $25.00 What an inspiration to us all.
Bernard Berger 02/10/2014 $100.00 Good job Paul. Ben,Gloria and Leo
Jack May 02/10/2014 $30.00  
Sean Johnson 02/10/2014 $50.00 Ride, Paul... Ride!
Tony & Debbie Fontana 02/09/2014 $50.00 Good luck!!!!
Mary Jo Neville 02/09/2014 $500.00 Be careful out there, Paul! Good luck from Bill and MJ.
Kim Flyr 02/09/2014 $20.00 You are an inspiration!
David Berger 02/09/2014 $20.00 Great work!
Michael Smith 02/09/2014 $50.00 Get on your bike and ride!
Dan Chambers 02/09/2014 $50.00  
Colleen Stacy 02/09/2014 $250.00 Thank you for your support!
Jennifer Stacy 02/09/2014 $25.00 You are awesome Paul! Good luck!
Christopher Matherne 02/08/2014 $100.00 I love that you're a part of this, and am sending the link to some of my friends as well. Good luck obtaining your goal!!! Great job!
Edward Wilde 02/08/2014 $250.00  
Kathy Ariano 02/08/2014 $50.00 I am a survivor, too -- ovarian cancer. We've been blessed to go on and do more. Go for it, Paul!
Erin Mahoney 02/08/2014 $50.00 Thanks for teaching us all what it means to make a difference. You're awesome!
Susan Meier 02/08/2014 $50.00  
Holly Wytko 02/08/2014 $25.00 You are an inspiration and someone I'm proud to call my friend!
Doug Lea 02/08/2014 $100.00 From one survivor to another: THANK YOU!
Elise Swain 02/08/2014 $20.00 So excited for what you're doing! Best wishes!
Elena Kerr 02/08/2014 $50.00 Thank you for doing what you do, Lems. You're the best mentor anyone could ask for.
Sara and Chris Drewes 02/08/2014 $100.00  
Samantha Seman 02/08/2014 $25.00 Good luck :)
Bernadette Bechta 02/07/2014 $50.00 Good luck Paul on your ride.
Katherine Adams 02/07/2014 $50.00 Thanks for being such an inspiration, Mr. Lemle. Good luck!
Tom Coale 02/07/2014 $25.00  
Dan Adams 02/07/2014 $100.00 Paul, thank you for supporting Katherine and for being such an inspiration to her. Best of luck on your ride!!
Stephanie Jarvis 02/07/2014 $25.00 Wishing you all the best on your trip Mr. Lemle!
Allison Goldberg 02/07/2014 $40.00 Thanks for being such an inspiration and bringing so much goodness to the world! You are awesome, Lems! Sending all of my good vibes your way for this bike adventure!
Melissa Mann 02/07/2014 $100.00 Inspiring, as ever.
Christian Callender 02/07/2014 $25.00 Never stop fighting, brother.
C Lewis 02/06/2014 $100.00 Rock on, LPL! So proud of you.
Calvin Ball 02/06/2014 $50.00 Best of luck Paul!!
Bruce Rome 02/06/2014 $50.00 I am very honored to contribute to such a worthy cause. Best of luck!
Azita Nejaddehghan 02/06/2014 $10.00 Glad to see my favorite teacher working for a great cause! Would love to catch up sometime soon. Good luck!
Christina Corcoran 02/06/2014 $25.00 Best of luck to you Mr. Lemle. Happy to help in any way possible.
Barbra Dey 02/05/2014 $75.00  
Andrea Dickie 02/05/2014 $50.00 Thank you for your leadership and advocacy on behalf of HoCo teachers.
Linda Wilson 02/04/2014 $100.00 Your advocacy for all you do sets a great example for the rest of us! Husband heard you sing during last year's Booty. Great event as is this. Happy to support you!
Sharon Carleton 02/04/2014 $100.00  
Amber Rabo 02/04/2014 $30.00 Go Paul!!!
Jane Chung 02/04/2014 $200.00  
Jessica Fitzwater 02/04/2014 $100.00 You are amazing Paul. Thanks for sharing your story and putting your care and passion into action. Enjoy the ride!
Lloyd&Connie Lemle 02/04/2014 $300.00 We love you Paul
Jennie Hill 02/03/2014 $25.00 Paul - You ROCK!!
Teri Walsh 02/03/2014 $100.00 I hope you have a comfy bike seat1 :-)
Rich Corkran 02/03/2014 $100.00 from one cancer survivor to another !
Sarah Fauver 02/03/2014 $25.00 Mr. Lemle, this is such a great cause! Good for you!
Ramin Nejaddehghan 02/03/2014 $25.00 You're an awesome dude, Mr. Lemle. Keep it up.
Meighan Davis 02/02/2014 $100.00  
Denis Walsh 02/02/2014 $200.00  
Abbie Innes 02/02/2014 $50.00  
Cindy & Ralph LaBarge 02/02/2014 $50.00  
Sasha Rickard 02/01/2014 $25.00 Awesome cause!
Linda Firman 02/01/2014 $25.00  
Aimee Becker 12/31/2013 $10.00 It was great meeting you at Eat-a-Peach and 24 Hours of Booty! Have a fantastic ride! :)
  Total $11,170.97