Help Me End Lung Cancer

2006-01-07 089This is a special Matt’s Bats blog post about why I am participating in the Breathe Deep DC event for lung cancer, but if you read all the way through it, you will see that it actually has a lot to do with baseball.

My grandfather, Larry Eisner, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005, about a year after I was born. He was a very nice person, but he sadly passed away in 2008.

My G-pa was a kind of doctor called a neurologist.  In his life, he helped many people when they were sick. My grandfather, like a lot of people who get lung cancer, did not smoke or do other things that are risky for your health. One of the facts that people may not know is that about 60% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or who have quit smoking a long time ago. Compared to other types of cancer, lung cancer does not get a lot of money for research, even though it is one of the most deadly types of cancer. You can learn a lot more facts here.

My family and I miss him so much. We do not want other people to have this very bad disease. So in 2010, we started doing a walk in Washington, D.C. to help raise money for a charity called Lungevity that gives money for lung cancer research, education and treatment. The walk is called Breathe Deep DC. I am participating in it again on Sunday, November 3 to help raise money for scientists to find a cure to lung cancer.

We walk around the monuments on the National Mall with other lung cancer patients, people who are survivors, family members, and other people whose lives have been touched by lung cancer. It is fun because they have activities, they play music and show videos, and have speakers who share their stories and you get to meet people who all have been affected by lung cancer. Every year they show a slideshow of people who died from lung cancer, and my G-pa’s picture is on it.

This year, instead of raising money from just friends and family members for the walk in November, I want to see if people who read my blog and Twitter will help me raise money by donating or coming to the Breathe Deep DC walk on November 3 on the National Mall. You can click on http://events.lungevity.org/goto/mattsbats to learn more!

Baseball-Ball-iconSince this is a blog about baseball, I want to tell you how my fundraising involves baseball in another way. It is about one of my dad’s friends named Troy Gaston who got diagnosed with brain cancer in 2001. Troy is a lawyer in Greenwood, Arkansas, which is near Fort Smith and close to the Oklahoma border. Troy’s health is fine and his cancer is under control now. He is married with 2 kids, and is a big baseball fan. His favorite team is the Cardinals. I have never met Troy, but he has been a friend of my dad’s since 1998. (In fact, my dad said that on September 9,1998, he was at Troy’s house in St. Louis watching the Cardinals vs. Cubs game when Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run that broke Roger Maris’ record). This year, Troy came to DC and my dad went with him to a Nationals game.  (By the way, his son Jack is a big Ian Desmond fan and I want to try to get his Nationals hat autographed by Desi to give to him).

After my dad and Troy went to a Nationals game, Troy sent me a 1958 Stan Musial baseball card. It was a very nice gift, but the note he wrote with it explained why he chose to send me such a generous present. He wrote:1958-Topps-Stan-Musial

Musial was particularly known for going out of his way to be kind to other players. He would often cross the field to console African American players during the game after they were abused by white players. He never turned down a fan for an autograph. Musial’s character and grace reminds me of someone in your family. Your grandfather and I both had cancer at the same time. Since mine was a cancer of the brain, he had a special knowledge about my condition. There were several times that he went out of his way to contact me, comfort me and give me advice about my illness. Never once did he mention his own condition or think of himself. I am sure your mom and dad are teaching you to demonstrate similar character.

Here is a copy of the whole letter:

Gaston Letter

2005-08-21 006

This is in Central Park when I was about 1. We ate strawberries and played.

This is a very important letter for me because it reminds me about my grandfather, who died when I was only about 3 ½. I still remember him, but I was very little so most of what I know about him comes from what other people tell me about him.

I am sad that he never saw my success in school and writing my blog and that I became a pro blogger for MLB when I was 9. It is nice to know that I had a grandfather who was generous to other people and helped other people through tough times. I like hearing about how he made an impact on other peoples’ lives. It is great to read a letter from someone who isn’t a family member saying how my G-pa did little things that meant a lot to him. It is also great to hear someone make a connection back to baseball and compare my grandfather to a baseball hero like Stan Musial.

I have truly missed my grandfather and I’ll do whatever it takes to cure the disease that made him die. Now that I am older and I have a way to reach out to a lot of people, I am raising money for research and to bring awareness to lung cancer. I am going to teach people that even people who don’t smoke can get lung cancer. I am going to show people that there needs to be a cure so that good people like my G-pa don’t die from a bad disease. My G-pa was the kindest man I knew, and I miss him a lot.

It would mean very much to me if you visit the webpage set up for me for the Breathe Deep DC event (http://events.lungevity.org/goto/mattsbats). Please donate a little bit of money if you can or sign up to participate in the walk on November 3 on the National Mall. It is also important if you put a link on Facebook or RT this post on Twitter (You can just copy and paste http://wp.me/p3QhbY-kl). You can also follow Breathe Deep DC on Twitter @BreathDeepDC.

My fundraising goal is $5,000, which is a huge amount of money but it is always good to aim high. Even if you don’t donate money or come to the event, you should read these CRAZY facts about lung cancer, so at least you get a little bit of education about it.

Thanks so much for everyone who chooses to donate or to come to the Breathe Deep DC event and become a member of “Team Matt’s Bats” or even just retweet this post on Twitter!

mattsbatslogo-hires

9 Comments

Great blog Matt!

Thanks for sharing this, Matt! My grandpa also died of lung cancer when I was younger. He was the one who taught me about baseball and we used to watch all the games on TV together. I think what you’re doing is awesome and you have my support!

Dear Matt,
Do you read all of these? You and I are kind of related. My aunt Roberta and Uncle Arnie were very very close to your grandfather. I’ve heard great things about him, and about you and I LOVE this blog posting. (You’re related to Aunt Roberta- my mom was Uncle Arnie’s sister.) but enough! I am happy to pledge money to your excellent efforts to fight lung cancer. Keep up the great work, Matt. But I know you don’t need me to tell you that.
best wishes, LIsa in Brooklyn

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