“We are at the edge of our knowledge,” Aghaian said.
Janet Buhl, the principal at Verdugo Woodlands — where Patrick attended when he was diagnosed during his fourth-grade year — also started learning more about the research needed into blood cancers after Patrick and another student at the school, a first-grader, were diagnosed with leukemia.
Buhl wanted to find a way to show her support for the students — as well as three adults with connections to the school who are also living with similar kinds of cancer — so she decided to run the Los Angeles Marathon as part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training.
Kaia Delves, a parent and president of the school’s foundation, was diagnosed with cancer of the plasma cells eight years ago; Jim Jasper, the husband of Verdugo Woodlands teacher Liz Jasper, has been living with lymphoma for six years; and Peter Kallik, the brother of Verdugo Woodlands teacher Lynette Miketta, was diagnosed with lymphoma in November.
So on March 2, Buhl will run and walk 26.2 miles around Los Angeles in honor of these five members of the Verdugo Woodlands school community. As part of her participation with Team in Training, Buhl has also been raising money that will fund research into treatments and cures for cancer like leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
“I really, truly felt helpless in not being able to do things for the kids,” Buhl said.
By participating in this race, Buhl aims to generate awareness about these diseases, raise money for research and let the students know they haven’t been forgotten while they are away from school.
“It just seemed like a great opportunity to help in a distant way,” she said.
Buhl informed people throughout the school district about her race, and she has raised more than $5,000 for cancer research.
Jasper, Miketta and Aghaian said they are touched by Buhl’s efforts to raise money and run on their behalf.
Buhl is helping to inform people about how prevalent these types of cancer are, and how they can strike people of all ages, Miketta said.
“It’s such a gift what Janet is doing for these families,” she said.
Aghaian and his wife plan to watch the Los Angeles Marathon in person to support Buhl from the sidelines.
“I honestly feel what she is doing is so, so wonderful,” Aghaian said. “I think she needs that cheering.”