In 2010, I ran my first Boston Marathon.
Following in my mother's footsteps, I basically went couch-to-marathon (I skipped over the whole 5K thing). I spent every Saturday morning of my last semester of college pounding pavement in below freezing temps with one goal in mind: cross that finish line and raise as much money as possible for Dana-Farber. When I finally finished knowing I had raised over $10,000 for Dana-Farber, I burst into tears. I was elated, relieved, shocked, proud, exhausted and grateful. And I immediately swore I would never run a marathon ever again.
In 2014, "never" became "maybe one more time." I ran again.
In the year after the bombing, I felt compelled to be on those streets again and I knew there was only one fundraising team I'd want to be on. I rolled up to the starting line feeling excited. I was ready. But around mile 10, things started to fall apart and I realized I'd caught the stomach bug that was being passed around my family. Somehow I made it across the finish line, another $10,000 raised for Dana-Farber; but this time it was a definite: absolutely never again.
But here we are. 2019 and I'm running again. Why?
When I think about all the miles, the sore legs, the freezing cold weather, it's easy to get caught up in wondering "why." But in reality, the answer is obvious.
We lost my uncle Johnny to a hard-fought battle with melanoma when he was only 42 years old. Though I was young when he was sick, I have the best memories of him - of his smile and his laughter. I love listening to his brothers and sisters swap stories of Johnny, but at the same time I can't help but feel a pang of anger. Why didn't we get more time? Why isn't my godfather still here?
Running the Boston Marathon in honor of Johnny has become somewhat of a family tradition. Over six marathons run by myself, my mom and my uncle Joe, we have raised close to $117,000 for cancer research at Dana-Farber. I'm looking forward to adding to that number in 2019.
After we lost Johnny, I watched my parents be there for several of their closest friends as they battled their own cancer. It was scary, but I thought cancer was an "adult thing." It wasn't anything I'd have to worry about until I was much older. Or, so I thought. As I got older, I watched many people my own age be diagnosed with cancer. I quickly learned that cancer does not discriminate.
In 2015, we lost Pat Padgett, the best workout buddy and friend you could imagine, after he was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of mouth and throat cancer at the age of 32. Pat was the picture of health, one of the strongest guys I'd ever known, a top-level CrossFit competitor, and he had the most alive and infectious personality. When I learned of his diagnosis, I kept thinking "How?" How could this happen to him of all people?
In the face of his daunting battle, Pat urged us all to live life to the fullest. He told us, "Go out and conquer your goals, do things that you’re a little scared of, make awesome memories that give you cool stories to tell, and love, love as much as possible." ...Well, I am a LOT scared of taking on this race again. So here goes nothing, Pat.
This marathon is for uncle Johnny. It's for Pat P. It's for everyone we've known and loved who has been affected by cancer. Every step is a step toward the ultimate goal: a world without cancer.
With love & thanks,
On April 15, hundreds of Dana-Farber runners will take to the streets to participate in the 123rd 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.