Friday, November 12, 2010

Provo man fighting cancer

My friend Heidi Toth is a news reporter for the Daily Herald. She recently did a story on a Provo man who has been diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. (below) Apparently there is a Facebook fundraising page setup on behalf of Leo Teemant and his family; just do a search for his name. There is a 5k run to benefit his family starting at Kiwanis Park in Provo on Saturday November 13th. So if you love to run or just want to help, you will need to register quickly!

Running for his life: Provo man fighting cancer
Heidi Toth - Daily Herald | Posted: Sunday, November 7, 2010 12:30 am

Healing. Survival. More time.

Things 38-year-old Leo Teemant wants. Things cancer is trying to take from him.

Things nobody should be taking for granted.

Leo and Amy Teemant seem like a typical couple. They met in a BYU singles ward, the same start as hundreds of other local love stories. She was in school; he worked at Novell. He found out she was a figure skater and got tickets for them to see Michelle Kwan skate during the 2002 Olympics. They were engaged in July of that year.

He was first diagnosed with melanoma a month later, underwent immunotherapy and recovered. He knew there was a chance the melanoma could return, but the odds were in his favor. Leo and Amy got married.

Eight years later, they have three children; the oldest is 5 years, the youngest is 5 months. They saved money through the early years of their marriage so that two years ago Leo could quit his job and go back to school. He graduated in August with a bachelor's degree in math and economics, filling the time between homework assignments with baseball and soccer with his children.

A week after graduation, he went to the doctor to get some eye pain checked out. The doctor came back with the news: He had stage IV melanoma, a cancer that is fairly resistant to treatment and already advanced. He has more than 30 tumors throughout his body.

Now he spends most of his time either getting chemotherapy or recovering from it. The fatigue never goes away. Doctor appointments in Salt Lake suck up entire days. His next treatment is two days before Thanksgiving; Amy doesn't want to go to the family party without him, but he knows he won't be feeling well enough to participate.

Their lives revolve around cancer and treatment. The only books they read are about cancer. The flowers in the front yard died because they are so consumed with cancer that they forgot to water them, day after day.

The odds are no longer in his favor. His doctor gave him nine months to live. Surviving beyond that will be a victory.

Maya and Tyler, the two oldest children, know Dad has cancer and he's getting treatment.

"But we don't talk about ..." Amy trailed off.

"The death part of it," Leo finished.

For them, it's always there. Amy wonders if her husband will be at baby Levi's first birthday party and what else he will miss.

"Is he going to be around for Father's Day?" she asked, tears in her eyes. "Are our kids going to be up in church having to sing without their dad there?"

Leo, while tickling Levi and laughing at the smile on his son's face, wonders how hard it will be for his children to lose their father. The two of them don't mention life without the other.

For now, they focus mostly on the present. The family was on BYU insurance while Leo was in school, and they've extended that, but it's not exactly a Cadillac plan. They're paying quite a bit out of pocket, and since neither is working right now, the financial impact is real.

That was before about 100 friends and neighbors got together and set up a charity 5K and crafts fair, a yard sale and two accounts into which people can donate. The 5K is on Saturday, and the yard sale was a success. The goal is $50,000.

Annalee Clawson, one of the organizers of the 5K and crafts fair, said the ideas to help started small but have ballooned as others volunteered to help. More than 100 people have registered to run and many people have donated through Pledgie and Wells Fargo accounts that friends have set up.

"It was just so shocking, so sudden," she said of Leo's diagnosis. "He had no signs of it. It was just all of a sudden, boom! It hit him."

The Teemants are grateful, both said, for the financial help their friends have coordinated. But the outpouring of support has helped in a different way as well. They don't feel as if their lives are Leo and Amy vs. the cancer anymore. They have friends who can baby-sit, clean their house, mow their yard and make sure their children are fed. They're not alone, and knowing that means more than the dollar signs clicking up on the fundraising website. Their friends have come to their rescue, Leo said. It's humbling.

"We don't feel like there's any way we could repay everybody who's helped us," he said.

To participate in the run or to donate through the Pledgie account, go to Organizers for Utah County's 2011 Relay for Life also will be at the 5K; Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society's largest fundraiser throughout the year. For more information, go to

No comments: