For 61-year-old Bruce Watson, living with cancer has become a race against time.
The Bellevue resident was first diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2005, an incurable cancer that begins in the blood cells and later affects the bones. He has since endured a rigorous schedule of hospital visits and treatments, meant to prolong his health.
Although the diagnosis has altered his life, it has not slowed him down. An avid walker, he has participated in previous cancer walks and now plans to walk side by side with family and friends in this year’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
“When I heard about the race, I thought gosh, we’re all in this together,” Watson explained, adding that his older sister is a breast cancer survivor and his grandmother died at age 50 due to breast cancer. “It would be great to rub shoulder to shoulder with other people dealing with cancer or who have been touched by it in some way, so I’ve asked my friends and family to join me in the race,” he said.
Over the past four years, Watson has undergone three stem cell transplants to prolong his life and numerous chemotherapy and radiation treatments at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. The transplants are designed to weaken his immune system, allowing the donor immune system cells to dominate and eventually destroy his immune system and take over, with the goal of killing off the Myeloma cells.
With his wife Vicki’s support, he underwent his third transplant in February and is successfully on outpatient care and continues to visit the hospital three times a week for various treatments.
Through all the trials and triumphs, Watson continues to inspire others along the way. He records his journey using an online journal and stays active by walking Greenlake and the Botanical Gardens in Bellevue.
When he learned of the upcoming Race for the Cure he decided to take on the role of team captain and rally a group to participate in the race. Instead of wearing pink, his team will wear bright orange hats with the team name Watson’s Warriors etched across them. On May 21, Watson set a goal of gathering 100 friends and family members to join him, encouraging those hundred to bring two more people each, raising the team total to 300.
“My goal is to have the largest friends and family group march in the walk,” he explained, originally hoping to raise $3,000. His team has already raised $3,400 thanks in part to his family members sending money from all over the country.
“The money just keeps pouring in and I couldn’t be more excited,” said a very thankful Watson. “It’s such a boost for me to know people are supporting me. It’s going to be a great celebration,” he added.
Within 48 hours of sending off the first email to rally up a team, he had more than 25 people signed up and ready to race. Since then, the numbers have continued to climb. His daughter, aunt, uncle, and several cousins have joined the team and plan to wear the orange hats proudly when they walk the race today.
It helps so much to know you are out there rooting for me, Watson wrote in an online journal entry. “It’s kind of like playing football on your home field … you just play better with all your friends and family cheering you on.”
Lindsay Larin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 425-453-4602.
Watch the Race
The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure begins early today at Qwest Field with the course near and along the Seattle waterfront.