Warrior Spotlight - Randall "Ironman" Henkemeyer
Anybody who has ever met Randall Henkemeyer will tell you the man truly is amazing. He is humble. He is kind. He has a humor and authenticity about him that is easy to vibe with. He is a hard working "machine" that will inspire the hell out of anybody that watches him work. He truly is the definition of a WARRIOR.
Many times in our life, we go about our relationships with white gloves on. We don't ask about other people's stories and we try our best to hide ours. In this case, Randall's story, his "why" behind his incredible persona, is what pushes me to personally be a better coach, parent, husband, and human being.
Just talking to Randall, you would never know that his life came with a crushing blow 5 years ago - a blow that saw his wife lose her battle with Leukemia. I didn't know Randall back then, but I can imagine it changed his outlook on living life to the fullest. Please, take a couple of minutes to read Randall's story.
In his own words:
In the latter part of October 2008; my wife Cindy was feeling really fatigued all the time, and as we all do, we ignore it. She had gone in to see her general practitioner, had some simple blood work performed but nothing detected to cause the fatigue at the time. Later on while on a 4 day weekend getaway in Duluth; we’d be hiking in Grand Marais, stopped to have some lunch, got into the car and proceeded to drive back to Duluth. Along the way, Cindy became violently ill, we stopped numerous times long story short…we ended up in the Two Harbors ER thinking she was just simply dehydrated and once again fatigued. The ER team did some additional testing and blood work and was concerned about Cindy and felt it necessary for us to get back to the Twin Cities ASAP. The talk of airlifting her to the TC was brought up and Cindy refused it. Once back in town, we had a quick visit at the urgent care and were told nothing could be done there and was referred to the ER at Fairview Ridges.
Week one at Fairview was long; it was constant poking, prodding, blood samples, questions and more questions and then it got real, the oncologist came in. At first they diagnosed Cindy with an infected deer tick bite, but the onset of the symptoms couldn’t have happened so quickly, so they asked her to agree to a bone marrow biopsy. By the end of that week, we learned Cindy had leukemia. In my opinion; the worst type of leukemia, Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML).
There was no time for a second opinion, time was of the essence and they wanted Cindy at Fairview Southdale that day (Friday to be exact) to begin chemo treatments. We had just learned and within minutes, we’re supposed to go to Southdale to begin chemo….that’s how bad it was. No time to react. No time to comprehend the news. No time to think…and scared as hell! We didn’t fight the news but we did beg to go home for the night to try to wrap our heads around all of it.
We called the kids, and the following morning and for the next 4 months of life and living at Fairview Southdale hospital, Cindy went through some very strong doses of chemo. First round didn’t do it. Second round nearly took her life, but she survived through. It was tough on her and tough on me, as the caregiver, not being able to do anything but be there to support my spouse. By December 2008, Cindy was in remission. She eventually got better, eventually went back to work half days then full days and just shy of her one year remission anniversary, I got the call. The call I personally dreaded and never, ever wanted to come true, her leukemia came back and it was worse.
We took the news surprisingly, well not necessarily any easier but we had gone through so much the first time, we knew the protocol. There were obviously lots of emotions going on for her and for me. I’m going to share something personal; the day we left the house to go back to Southdale, Cindy very clearly articulated to me that she knew the next time she would come through the door to our home would be her last time.
For a year and a half, I watched as Cindy fought hard against this terrible disease with many long hospital stays, multiple rounds of chemotherapy, different cancer-fighting drug cocktails, and ultimately hospice care. I’ve made it my mission to do what we can to prevent others from having to endure this same terrible fate.
I embarked on a new life journey, dedicating myself to raising funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society. In June 2010, just a few months after Cindy passed away, I ran my first marathon (Rock ‘n Roll San Diego) in her memory. It was the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done! Since then, with Team In Training (TNT), I have run 5 marathons, completed numerous Triathlons and a century ride and raised over $15,000 to support this wonderful cause. I was a TNT participant and have evolved into coaching TNT participants as they too raise funds for LLS and compete in an endurance event. It has now been just over 5 years since my best friend and spouse, lost her courageous battle with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). Not a day goes by without me thinking of her and missing her deeply.
Randall's story is powerful and we graciously thank him for sharing this very personal story with our TFW-South Metro community.
Never go a day without hugging your kids, hugging your spouse, laughing with the ones you love, thanking all of the people that love you, and most of all - never go a day without doing something that matters to you deeply.
Randall's story is one of several in our community of people at Training for Warriors - South Metro. On Saturday, July 18th at 4:00PM, we are hosting a charity workout and party to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). There will be workout challenges, food, drinks, music, live and silent auctions, and more great stories just like Randall's.
If this story hit home, please send us a message and let us know how we can help