I am running the Boston Marathon for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. For those of you who are unaware of the phenomenal work Dana Farber does with cancer treatment and research. I can’t describe it any better than their own mission statement:
The mission of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is to provide expert, compassionate care to children and adults with cancer while advancing the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure, and prevention of cancer and related diseases. As an affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a Comprehensive Cancer Center designated by the National Cancer Institute, the Institute also provides training for new generations of physicians and scientists, designs programs that promote public health particularly among high-risk and underserved populations, and disseminates innovative patient therapies and scientific discoveries to our target community across the United States and throughout the world.
When I sent in my application to the Dana Farber running program, I never thought they would ever accept my application. I’m a novice runner, but I guess my story and previous fundraising experience helped me. So here I am! So excited and thrilled that I am going to help an amazing organization while taking on a huge personal challenge.
So what’s my connection to cancer?
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2008. I was about to finish up my first semester of my senior year at Northeastern. It came as a shock to my entire family. There’s no history of the disease in our family. How did this happen and why did it happen to my mom at such a young age? She was only in her late forties, healthy, and a pretty active woman. As her daughter, only 21 years old, how do I deal with this? What happens if the prognosis isn’t good? So many questions were running through everyone’s minds. But my mom, one who often hates to be inconvenienced, decided her treatment and recovery would take her one year. Then, she would be done with it and move on with her life.
Seeing your mom go through cancer is so hard – the surgeries, the chemotherapy, and extended hospital stays – everything seems so surreal. My mom’s sense of humor through it all was the best. When her cap would fall off and her bald head would be revealed, I would say “Looks like you’re having a bad hair day, mom!” and she would retort, “I didn’t make fun of you when you were bald until you were three years old!” When she would complain about her wig feeling like a bird’s nest, my brother would try it on for fun, or when she stuck her head too close to the oven and some of the wig melted together. Maintaining laughter was the best part of her battle. And sometimes, the toughest part was not being able to have her multiple Diet Cokes a day. 🙂
Today, my mom is a survivor. She kept her promise. One year and she would move on with her life. Minus the crazy hair regrowing period, most of our lives are back to normal. Except for the horses. The sobering view on life made my mom realize that you should do what you love and live your life however you want it. So…she got a couple of horses. She had two as a teenager and wanted to renew her love for riding and horses. She and my dad packed up, moved across New Hampshire to a nice plot of land in the woods and now they have two new “children.” Prince and Rio. Both of these guys are survivors – rescues from unfortunate pasts. My mom, along with her two boys, are inspirations to us all. The humor, strength, and will to live have inspired many of us to look differently at life.
I am running in honor of my mom.