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.
|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! :)|