On October 4 I will be walking 26.2 miles in the “your way” Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. As I have done for the past 16 years, I will be raising funds for lung cancer research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in memory of my husband Mitch – so the method will change, but not the motive.
Several months ago I formulated my idea for this letter. I was going to include a photo of Mitch with Zach, the only grandchild Mitch lived to know and then include another photo of Zach in his cap and gown at high school graduation. I was going to write about the many years of Zach’s life that Mitch had missed. Although Zach graduated, there are no graduation photos for the class of 2020 - a perfect example of how life can change in a heartbeat.
All of this made me think about the day Mitch was diagnosed with cancer. Up until then we had a story book life. Married almost 30 years, our daughter Jess was married and had 10 month old Zach and our son Matt had just graduated from college. In the blink of an eye our lives changed.
It’s so hard to believe that it’s been almost 17 years since Mitch lost his battle with cancer. Enormous strides are being made in the treatment of lung cancer, however, the five year survival rate is still only 6% for someone like Mitch, in whom the cancer had spread by the time of diagnosis. Lung cancer continues to be the leading cancer killer in both men and women and accounts for approximately 25% of cancer deaths. And so I continue to walk.
I look forward to sharing my walk experience with you this year. Jess (my daughter) and I are working on a route that can provide us with the support (water, food and bathrooms) usually provided us by the Jimmy Fund. It will be a very different experience this year. No crowds of people walking and volunteers shouting encouragement. I’ll miss the adrenalin rush that provided.
I hope you’ll consider supporting Team Mitch by walking or contributing because although COVID 19 has stopped many things, it hasn’t stopped cancer. You can contribute on line, at http://danafarber.jimmyfund.org/goto/SherrieBarlas-2020 or by sending a check made out to Jimmy Fund Marathon Walk to me at 11 Indian Dawn, Wayland, Massachusetts 01778.
Please help me fight this horrific disease. Please do it for Mitch. Please do it for your loved ones. Please do it for yourself.
With hope and love,