Training for Race Takes Mind Off Daughter’s Cancer Treatment

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URBANDALE, Iowa -- Treatment has come a long way to improve survival rates of blood cancers. Volunteer fundraisers for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society have played a big role helping save the lives of patients. One metro mom has a very special inspiration in raising funds.

Estella, 3 ½, loves playing princess, but there's a twist to the popular past time in the Backes house. Mom Cari Backes says, "She likes to play doctor. She has a little stethoscope. She even has pipe cleaners she makes into a CT machine, and she'll send her princesses into the CT machine."

Estella has ALL Leukemia. She was diagnosed one week before her second birthday. Cari says, "She was supposed to spend one week in the hospital. She ended up developing a life threatening blood condition. She spent two months in the hospital."

In the midst of giving Estella medicine and taking her to doctor’s appointments, Backes found something to take her mind off her daughter’s treatment. She joined the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. Participants raise money for research and then participate in an endurance event. Backes says, "It was something to focus on, and I really enjoyed it. It was really kind of life changing."

She raised $4,000 last year. Last summer she participated in her first half marathon in San Diego. She says, "The Team in Training color is purple. And, when people on the sidelines would see your purple, the back of my jersey said Estella and team Iowa. And, they'd yell ‘go Estella, or go Iowa,’ and so it was really encouraging."

She formed Team Tough-E this year with more members and a bigger fundraising goal. The team wants to raise $15,000. They’ll do it with the help of many fundraisers, including one that will benefit your body. Crossfit Hardstyle in Johnston will offer a workout this weekend for a free will donation. Kody Waldstein says, "It's a benefit workout designed for anyone to be able to come in. You don't have to have any experience whatsoever."

The workout is Saturday, February 14th at 9 a.m. They ask you leave a donation, which will go toward the team's goal. Waldstein says, "We're trying to raise as much money as possible. We encourage everyone to come in and support Cari."

Backes says she appreciates the support for people with blood cancers and her Estella. She says, "I see a really happy future for her doing great things."

Estella has about five months left of treatment. Cari's half marathon is in June. Click here for Team Tough-E’s Team in Training Fundraising Page.

Crossfit Hardstyle is located at 5444 NW 96th St. in Johnston.