Lincolnshire resident beats Lymphoma, 20-mile bike ride
Lincolnshire resident Kate Arnold, joined by her husband Charles, already beat Lymphoma. On Sunday, "Team Super K" completed a 20-mile race to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 3, 2012 1:35AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — Kate Arnold is intent on proving her doctors wrong.
The Lincolnshire woman, lymphoma survivor and bone-marrow transplant recipient completed a 20-mile bicycle race Sunday in Highland Park, part of a fund-raiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Her doctors, who diagnosed her in June 2008 with Follicular non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, told her that she may never be capable of strenuous physical activity again.
In completing her second 20-mile race — in an hour and 20 minutes, 40 minutes faster than her time a year ago — Arnold was committed to showing the doctors that they underestimated her.
“Being able to do 20 miles, or possibly someday 40 miles, it says to me that I’m not totally written off,” Arnold said. “Even though I can’t do what I want to do, I can still do part of it.”
Arnold and her husband Charles led their fund-raising group, Team Super K, in the Blood, Sweat & Tears Charity event, turning in $1,050 for the cause.
Charles Arnold has participated in the society’ fund-raising-as-athletics program, Team in Training, since Kate’s diagnosis. Before a previous Team in Training triathlon in Florida, Charles broke his arm in a bicycle crash during his final practice ride, but still ran the foot race with his arm in a sling.
After Kate’s bone marrow transplant two years ago, Kate is now well enough to participate in some of the events herself.
“We are so appreciative to Kate and Charles for being willing to share the experience of lymphoma,” said Pam Swenk, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s executive director.
At her diagnosis four years ago, Kate Arnold’s doctors prescribed her an aggressive and energy-draining cocktail of medications called R-CHOP for her treatment.
“It’s no picnic, that’s for sure, but I got through it very well,” Kate said.
She went into remission that Thanksgiving, but the cancer came back in the spring of 2009, and Arnold decided to follow up with a less aggressive, less debilitating treatment. Her tests later in 2009 showed mixed results, motivating the Arnolds to opt for a bone-marrow transplant, which Kate received from an anonymous donor.
The operation saved her, but left her body frail.
“I had to have a goal,” she said. “I had to have a focus.”
Fifteen months of recovery later, Kate’s lungs were back up to 35 percent of their capacity. She celebrated by entering and finishing last year’s 20-mile Blood, Sweat & Tears race. While closing in on the last half mile, her strength left her, so the 19 other members of Team Super K started singing her favorite songs.
“They literally sang me across the finish line,” Arnold said, and they crossed together in about three hours.
This year’s Team Super K was down to 10 members, she said, but included her father, Norman Fleet, who spent his 78th birthday on the ride with his daughter.
“It’s very self-affirming, that I have been able to pick myself up and gather my strength and do as much as I used to be able to do as possible,” Arnold said. “I certainly couldn’t do it without the people around me.”
Those people, of course, include the doctors who saved her, but also then told her that exercise may be too much for her future.
“I know that I’ll never be capable of doing a country ride,” Arnold said. “That’s just off my plate. But, I had to prove my doctors wrong, that I could do it.”