Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The PPI Perspective - Put Cancer On The Rail

By Kelly Armentrout, Team PPI

I am here at the Borgata Winter Open, as it is one of my favorite tournaments of the year. I played my first tournament here in October of 2005, and have been a Borgata fan and regular ever since. In fact, my love for Borgata extends to the online world where I am known as "BorgataGirl."

Tab and his tournament staff put on a great series, time and time again, and that is what keeps me coming back. Another reason why I love coming to Borgata is to join up with many familiar faces – in particular, my friends at PPI.

Not only is it great to see everyone, but it brings to the forefront the charitable work poker players perform. At PPI, players are pledging a percentage of their winnings at the Borgata Winter Open to various charities and causes. This is near and dear to me, as most aren’t aware of the fact that I am a 10 year cancer survivor of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

After undergoing treatment for 5 months in VA for Hodgkin's Lymphoma, things weren't going well, so I took it upon myself to seek a second opinion from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY.

After my initial consultation, the doctors felt I had been misdiagnosed and given the wrong treatment. It appeared to be Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which requires a completely different treatment regimen than Hodgkin's. It was then I decided to be under the care of the medical staff at MSKCC.

For precautionary measures, they administered a 3 week course of radiation therapy to my chest, and all was well until I relapsed 6 months later.The only course of action at this point would be a stem-cell transplant, which would consist of aggressive chemotherapy, stem cell collection, and a 6-8 week hospital stay.

Three weeks into the transplant, I suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage due to the radiation treatments, and was placed in the ICU. My prognosis was very grave and I was given less than a 5% chance of survival.

It is by the Grace of God that I am here and on a mission to raise funds and awareness for cancer research. I am blessed and fortunate to have been given a second chance at life, and I hope through my contributions I will be able to give others the same gift.

So it is with great pleasure that I can proudly say I have donated a portion of my tournament winnings at this year’s Borgata Winter Open to several charities (including St. Jude, Prevent Cancer Foundation, MSKCC, Nephcure, and relief efforts in Haiti).

As a Partner in Hope for St. Jude, my monthly donation allows me to receive a picture of a child currently receiving treatment at St. Jude. I have a stack of cards that I use as a card protector as a reminder of the battle that we continue to fight.

Funding is our greatest source in finding a cure, so please join me in my mission and together we can put cancer and other life threatening diseases on the rail!

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