In 2020, I was well on my way to running my first ever marathon in Boston for Dana Farber. So what happened? 5 weeks before race day, COVID-19 shut down basically everything. Life as we all knew changed on a dime....much like a cancer diagnosis.
In 2015, my daughter Teaghan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). She had just turned 2 years old. We spent 35 days as inpatient at Boston Children's Hospital and then moved to outpatient care at the Jimmy Fund at Dana Farber. She underwent two years of outpatient treatment filled with lumbar punctures, blood draws, steroids, lots and lots of chemotherapy, amongst many other medical procedures and medications.
While we were inpatient, Teaghan spent a lot of her time blowing bubbles out in the small garden area on our floor, or maniacally walking the halls. Toddlers and steroids aren't a great combination. Trust me. We also endured a bacterial infection from her PICC line. The doctors presented us with options on how to treat the infection, but couldn't say which option was the best. We had to advocate for Teaghan and make decisions without being experts. It was so hard. In the moment, I had no idea how serious the infection was, and when I look back I'm glad I didn't. I mean my child had cancer, I couldn't fathom there were other serious things to worry about. There were a lot of hard days in that room on the 6th floor. But, it was also on the 6th floor that we learned Teaghan was in remission, and we could go home and start outpatient treatment.
Outpatient had its own struggles. The first night at home, Teaghan spit out her oral chemotherapy all over my husband and I. We hadn't even taken her out of her carseat yet, and we were calling the after hours line. Most nights over her two year treatment plan, we had to wake her to give her this same oral chemotherapy. Teaghan was also part of the unlucky 20% of children who have an allergic reaction to one of the critical chemotherapy drugs. She had an anaphylactic reaction which was terrifying, and we learned the substitute for this drug, was another chemotherapy administered through a shot in her thigh twice a week for 30 weeks. These shots were painful, and they made her sick. There were numerous times she was sedated for procedures and lumbar punctures, which meant she had to be NPO (no food/drinks) until procedure time. Again, telling a steroidal toddler they can't eat when their body is telling them they are starving is not a fun time. But we made it through. One day at a time, and some days, one minute at a time. These are just snippets of our journey.
Today, Teaghan is a healthy, happy, thriving 8 year old. She's practically as tall as me, loves playing sports (and is a really great athlete - Mom brag), enjoys school, is an avid reader, a loving big sister, and loves being with her family and friends. While Teaghan pretends to be shy, she is often the center of attention making people laugh with her crazy antics. It's because of Dana Farber, I get to watch this beautiful human grow up, and for that I will be forever grateful.
I run for Teaghan. I run for the families we met along our journey. I run for my family and friends whose lives have been touched by this horrible disease. I run because I want to do my part in conquering cancer.
To all who donated to my marathon efforts in 2020, I cannot thank you enough. While I didn't get to run, together, we were able to raise an amazing amount of funds for critical cancer research. I hope you will consider donating to my fundraising efforts again.
In 2022, hundreds of Dana-Farber runners will take to the streets to participate in the 126th Boston Marathon®. The Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team runs and raises funds with thousands of special people in mind. From Hopkinton to Boston, we carry thoughts of those people every step of the way.
One hundred percent of every dollar raised by the DFMC team supports the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. These funds are fueling some of today's most promising basic cancer research.
Thank you for your support! Together, we're headed toward the ultimate finish line: a world without cancer.