I have been driving in the trucking industry for over 10 years working for Stevens Transport a premier over the road refrigerated carrier based in Dallas TX. In "previous lives," I have worked as a police dispatcher while in college for Geology and Sociology, spent time in restaurant kitchens, and spent 9 years in retail electronics.
Of all my jobs, I enjoy probably enjoy driving the most, with cooking not far behind. During my time as a driver my weight went up and my health went down. In the last few years I have made the decision to start taking back my health.
RoadTestedLiving.com chronicles my story, as well as that of other drivers. It will share tips and tricks that, if they work for professional drivers with limited time, space, and equipment, they should be able to work for anyone. It also allows me to share my passion for the trucking industry, and good food with others.
Simply put, Road Tested Living is all about Learning to Live Well from Life's Lessons on the Road.
Drivers and the public in general are often presented with a variety of products that claim to improve out health and life in some manner. All manner of odd inventions are presented to us with claims that they will make us feel better, loose weight, be more attractive, win the lottery and so on.
At GATS in Dallas TX, this year was the lead off to a major event that will be taking place for driver health and wellness. Rolling Strong, along with Freightliner, and the Truckers Rolling Against Hepatits-C Campaign, had a driver wellness pavilion at GATS. At this pavilion one could have their blood pressure, weight and BMI calculated. Talk to a health coach about their fitness level, try out the FIT System, take the Big Rigger Fitness Challenge. As well as be screened to see if they had Hepatitis-C.
The first on the road event will be taking place in Carlisle, Pa at the Petro Stopping Center on U.S. 11. It will be on Sept. the 23rd, and run from 10-6. Bob Perry the Trucker Trainer will be there to encourage drivers to see how many times they can press a tire. This event and tires is being sponsored by Michelin. The winner of this Big Rigger Fitness Challenge will get a FIT System for their truck. As well as qualify for a chance to compete against Bob and other qualifiers at an event in California in December.
I tried the challenge at GATS. Lets just say I did not come close to meeting the 100+ of the winner and will be looking to redeem myself on Tuesday. Due to my schedule at GATS I was not able to do many of the screenings, so will be using this opportunity to make use of the FREE tests.
There will be workout sessions with Rolling Strongs CDL Wellness Coaches. Their Master Trainer Laura York has already threatened me with a personalized work out session. Freightliner will have a Cascadia there to show off a fully installed FIT System. Lastly and hopefully not least, there will be some cooking demonstrations to show how easy it is too cook on the truck. These demonstrations at to be done by Tom Kyrk from Road Tested Living. (Note cooking demonstration has only been scheduled for the Carlisle event)
I have been given a challenge. To bring nothing but my kitchen gadgets, (hopefully a few spices will be allowed), and a roll of duct tape. (No I am not cooking the Duct Tape.) From this I will have to go shopping inside the PETRO, and cook a meal, and snacks with just ingredients I find inside. The duct tape is to tape off an area the size I work with in the truck to show how easy it can be.
It is always a good idea to have an idea of where you stand on your overall health picture such as BP, Weight, BMI etc. Being on the road it can be a challenge to find places to have these screenings done. When you have a group of people who set up an event for drivers that is FREE it is a win-win in my opinion.
An additional screening that is being offered is the Hep-C screening. One reason this is such a concern is Hepatitis-C can not show symptoms for as long as 20-40 years. By the time symptoms show it can already have causes severe liver damage. Early detection can lead to treatments that can prevent this damage. Further more new treatments have been developed ot ensure drivers do no have to miss work. Ora-Sure Technologies have developed a test that can show if you have been exposed to Hepatitis-C with a drop of blood in about 20 minutes. AbbVie is a bio-pharmaceutical company that has worked to develop a treatment with fewer side effects than past treatments. This allows people to maintain normal activities during treatment.
The reason Hepatitis-C should concern drivers is this. Those of the baby boom generation (who make up a large part of trucking), are more likely to have Hepatitis-C. This occurs for a number of reasons. The main causes are lack of proper sterilization of needles, as well as shared ink, and blood transfusions in the past. During the 1990’s as awareness of this disease and how it was spread grew. This allowed the development of methods to prevent its spread. As a result due to test of blood, single use needles, and ink. The spread rate from these sources has been greatly reduced.
There have been some preliminary studies that show Hepatitis-C may be more prevalent in drivers than in some other populations. As a result of this OraSure, AbVie, along with the HTAA has developed the Truckers Rolling Against Hep-C campaign. Rolling Strong and its partners are working with them to provides screening at the Rolling Strong Wellness events. Those who obtain a positive result from the screening, medical personnel will be on hand to discuss options.
All in all this looks to be the start of a great driver focused health and wellness tour. Here is the current schedule of locations. All events will be from 10-6 local time.
9/23 — Carlisle, PA, Petro Stopping Centers, I-81, Exit 52/I-76, Exit 226, 1201 Harrisburg Ave, Route 11. Carlisle, PA 17013
At GATS in Dallas this year, drivers who had parked in the parking lot came out to find a pleasant surprise. The folks from Smart Truck Systems decided to hold a BBQ for drivers of the second year in a row. They came up with the idea as a way to thank drivers for what they did.
Drivers were treated to a BBQ feast which was delicious. The BBQ Brisket was fantastic, however the crowd pleaser and spotlight stealer has to be the smoked turkey breast. It ran out well before the brisket.
Entertainment was provided by the country band Empty Pockets. Brad James (interview coming in the near future) was invited on stage to sing a song and it was well received by the crowd. In a later conversation Brad told me that this was his first time singing with a live band. He did a fantastic job.
It was an unexpected treat to come out and find this prepared for drivers. Since this is Driver Appreciation week I would like to publicly express my thanks to the wonderful people at Smart Truck. Drivers often feel overlooked. To have a vendor recognizing drivers in such a meaningful way was truly appreciated. It did not matter if you used their products, were a company driver, or owner operator. Their concern was to make sure you were well fed, entertained, and knew you were appreciated.
Anytime someone goes out of their way to show drivers appreication i beleive it deserves credit. Whether it is a stranger buying a driver a cup of coffee, another driver giving a fellow driver a shower credit. Or one of the several other events that was done to thank drivers at GATS, I feel the deserve credit. it is nice being shown how you are appreciated.
My personal thanks to you for the great dinner, and all you did.
Their efforts led to 160 people being signed up for the registry. In addition Make It Happen USA was just informed that 4 matches have been found from people that have signed up. As Christina Schnese the founder of the group often states. “Each match we find not only saves a life but saves a family”
While 160 people may not sound like a large number of sign ups for an event that drew in over 40,000 people over its 3 days. It is just the beginning. Christina spent a large amount of time networking and building relationships with a variety of groups. Her and her team of tireless volunteers (ok by Saturday night they you could tell there were exhausted) have been invited to the MATS show. In addition the National Minority Truckers Assoication have graciously agreed to host them at the upcoming expos being held across the country.
Christina’s story and her drive to make a difference to those who are suffering from leukemia and other blood based diseases have sparked an interest in the trucking community. Christina was continuously amazed throughout the event by the enthusiasm that the trucking community has for her project.
Personally I feel her compelling story of survival as well as one of hope resonated through out the event. You see Christina’s bone marrow transplant did not just save her from Leukemia it also appears to have cured her Lupus. Due to the stem cell Donation that she received it appears to have cured both diseases. Researchers are now looking at bone marrow stem cell donation as a cure for various blood cancers, as well as Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, and other diseases.
The registration process is simple and painless a short questionnaire, and a quick swab of your cheeks. You are then placed on the registry and if a match is found you will be contacted. Most people will give blood stem cells which is about a 5-6 hour procedure simple as giving blood. In a few RARE cases they may still use the more traditional Bone Marrow procedure. That is typically reserved for cases when the recipient only has a short time to live.
I along with 160 others chose to give others and their families a chance at life. I hope you will choose to do so as well. For information on how to get a testing kit free of charge, become a volunteer, or to make a donation to help cover the costs of the kits. Please e-mail email@example.com
One important thing to remember is that their is no cost to the donor either for registering or for the procedures. The testing of the kits currently costs 65 per kit to register a person. Make It Happen USA does depend on and gladly accept donations for those who are able and feel it appropriate.
The Trucking Solutions Group would like to thank Randal-Reilly Publishing, and ATBS for their genrous support in making this possible
I have already helped to make it happen. How WILL YOU help Make It Happen???
This year at GATS there seems to be a heavy focus on Driver Health and Health Related Issues. The Healthy Trucker Association of America (HTAA) is rolling out their Truckers Against Hepatitis-C campaign. It will be held at booth 23113 in the Health Pavilion Area of the show.
In the U.S. approximately 5.2 million people have been exposed or are infected Hepatitis-C. Approximately 3 out of 4 people do not know they are infected or have been exposed to Hepatitis-C. Baby Boomers (born between 1945 and 1965) make up 75% of those infected. Which comes to 1-30 in this group. Truckers are 5 times more likely to have it then any other group. Continue reading Trucker’s Rolling Against Hep-C→
This is the third installment on the importance of Bone Marrow donation. Leading up to GATS bone marrow donation registry drive at the TSG booth, August 21-23, in Dallas, Tx . This week is from the perspective of Christina’s son Jon. His perspective is unique. He is the son of a survivor, as well as being a donor himself.
Hard to believe that the first truck show I ever attended was this year. I managed to make it for the first day of MATS (Mid American Truck Show). Needless to say I was hooked. Not so much on MATS which is truly a great show, but on truck shows themselves. Where else do you get such a diverse group of people interested in the same thing, trucking. Continue reading On the Road to a Truck Show→
Last week I briefly introduced Christina Schnese and her organization Make It Happen USA. While I could go on and on about her story. I think it is best if she tells her story in her own words.
My name is Christina Schnese and I am proud to say I am a leukemia survivor and blood stem cell transplant survivor. These past three years of my cancer journey have been the most challenging but also the most eye opening experience of my life. There are doctors, nurses, hospital staff, an endless list of family and friends to thank. Above all there is one person I thank. There is a beautiful 23 year old woman named Dianne, who decided to donate life when she was only 20 years old. What a miracle, a young 20 year old giving unconditional love to a stranger! You see Dianne donated her blood stem cells to me. I am grateful, I am humbled and I am forever grateful.
How does one begin to describe this process called stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant to a stranger? How does one convey to them what an amazing, yet overwhelming journey it is not only for the patient but for the donor? How do you describe the joy it brings to BOTH the donor and the recipient?
Let’s start with Dianne, her side:
Her junior year of college she was walking back from classes with her roommates. They were approached by DKMS America representatives who explained that they were on campus looking for possible matching donors to help save cancer patients. They explained the cheek swab process and also explained the two ways to donate, the surgical and the non-surgical. Dianne, being of Hispanic descent, was told there was a 3% chance that she would match. Diane and her friends all signed up that day. She tells me she didn’t really think about it after that until a month later.
ONE MONTH later she received a call about a female patient who was fighting AML and she was asked if she was available. Dianne explained to us that it took her a while to respond because she had so many thoughts racing through her mind, but she agreed to the process.
When she told her family about it, they had many concerns. Dianne was born premature so her family has always been extra sensitive about her health. They agreed to have a family discussion about it. When Dianne returned to her home later that night she found her parents on the couch waiting for her. They said they had talked to a DKMS representative. They had been told the patient was the same age as Dianne’s mom. This brought it home for all of them. Dianne said she instantly thought, “What if this was my mom?” I am told they instantly knew, as a family, that becoming my donor was their journey. She told me the following in one of her letters, “I know it’s been a few years but that incredible feeling of being able to make a difference in someone’s life is still with me always and I remember like it was yesterday.”
I was diagnosed with leukemia on June 7th, 2010 after eight months of trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I was fatigued, my energy levels were low, exercise was impossible and I was throwing up everything that went in. I was hospitalized an hour later, and given 4 bags of blood over two days because all my blood counts were so low. I started chemo on day 3. I survived 38 days of induction and two follow up chemo rounds. I went septic after that. My family was told to come in, hold me and say good- bye. The doctors did not expect me to survive the night.
Also surviving the night after that and kept on surviving. Just call me blessed! After this strain on my body, my oncologist decided not to do the 4th round of chemo. He didn’t think my body was strong to live through the final chemo phase. We had known from the start that my leukemia had the inversion that would require a transplant to save my life. Since we were not going to do the 4th chemo round we were sent to the transplant team.
When we spoke with our transplant team, we were told that there was a 1% chance of finding a Hispanic donor for me. The doctors also explained the 50/50 survival rates of unrelated transplant patients. I cried for the second time since the diagnosis.
We went home and waited and waited and waited. One night, sitting in the back yard, my husband and I were still trying to make the decision, whether to move forward or not with the transplant. So we prayed. I still remember exactly what we said… “Dear God, we have walked down this journey presented to us with faith in your will. We are placing this burden in your hands. Please guide us in making the right decision.”
The next day, we received a call, not one but two donors had been found. One was 45 years old, one was 20 years old. My doctors decided they wanted Dianne’s stem cells because she had no children and no pregnancies.
Relief, joy, fear, shock, amazement, gratitude, anxiety…all of these emotions and more hit you at the same time. Most of all, we were amazed. A donor had been found! I had a chance!
The rest of this story is the battle to survive. I figured with everything that I had to live for and with this miracle that Dianne had given me, there was only one outcome. I was going to beat this. I would survive.
Now Dianne and I are like sisters. We met for the first time in July 2013. This was a very exciting time for our family and friends. If this is not enough joy in our lives, we have been blessed again. My son was chosen to be a donor for a 31 year old domestic woman. Jonathan completed his blood stem cell donation for her in October of 2013. We are excited to hopefully meet his recipient in two years. The full circle of life continues!
Last but not least, since I survived this cancer journey, I have a new calling. I have started a non for profit called Make It Happen USA.
Our primary goal is to increase the bone marrow/ blood stem cell registry by 50,000.
Is to help cancer patients that our going through this dramatic process alone. No one should go through cancer treatment alone.
To improve the quality of life for both the cancer patients and their caregivers. It is with great pride that I take on this new challenge!
What can you do to help us achieve our goals?
The easiest and the least expensive option, please allow us to have a donor drive at your location. It does not cost you a penny. We have partnered with many churches, high schools, recreation centers and athletic events. Only 2% of the US population is on the registry. Each year, thousands of blood cancer patients die because they cannot find a match in the registry. It takes one table, two chairs and some space in your establishment. We can even bring our own table and chairs if we need to. We do cheek swabs of anyone that wishes to sign up to be a donor. It takes 3 minutes per person. To be honest, we love doing the donor drives. Since our founding in March of 2014. We have already registered 3165 people as of July 23rd, 2014.
You can volunteer your time, we have approximately 15 events per month and growing! If this option works for you, please call us. We will be happy to have you join our family. We travel extensively for some of our drives so we may be in an area near you soon!!!
The final option is money. It costs us $65.00 for every person that we swab. We pay for that, not the potential donors. We also pay for some of the care that blood cancer patients with no insurance need.
If you are interested in one or all three of these please contact.
Make It Happen USA
25761 E. Orchard Dr , Aurora, Co 80016
I have spoken with Christina several times and feel this is a worth while cause. I hope that if your attending GATS you will take the time to stop by and meet Christina and her team of volunteers, and learn about the organization. Even if you choose not to register as a donor, please take the time to get informed and spread the word to your friends. It is my hope and prayer no one at the GATS show or their friends and family will need this registry. However if they do I am glad to know that many people drivers included will have taken the time to bring some hope to a person in a very dark time.
If you will be unable to attend GATS August 21-23, and wish to learn more about this group or becoming a donor. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as the contact information above for MakeItHappenUSA. Also if you are able to sponsor, or recommend an event such as a driver appreciation day at a terminal, truck show, or any other event. I encourage you to let Christina and her team know.
This post originally came from my friend Jeff Clark a Freightliner Team Run Smart Pro. Over the last several weeks we have had some debates on the advantages and disadvantages of Toll Roads. As a company driver I am for the route that saves me the most time. Where Jeff is looking for time, as well as cost savings. While he has not totally convinced me yet. This post he did on a comparison of one of the non-toll routes verses the toll road in Indiana caused me to take a second look. Continue reading Should I Travel The Road Less Taken?→