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Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm Off...

Today when I leave for Hopkinton, I will be wearing my Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge singlet. On the back of my singlet are the names of three people whose battles with cancer remind me of what race I am really running in today. I run to honor the memory of my Aunt Nancy. I know that although she lost her battle, she would be proud to know that I am doing what I can in hopes that others may be cured. I run in honor of Grammie. She is the strength that holds my family together, and the bravest grandmother around. I run in honor of Brandon. I know that no one in their entire lifetime should have to face what Brandon faced in his childhood.

Running a marathon is hard. Fighting cancer is harder.

As I have said before, the battles these three individuals have fought, with cancer are not unique ones. Cancer attacks everyone around us – parents, loved ones, siblings, and children. The back of my friend Kristan’s singlet last year said “In Honor of Too Many.” Like Kristan, unfortunately there is not enough room on our singlets for the names of every person that we know touched by cancer. In addition to running in honor of the people on the back of our singlets, I also running in honor of all of your loved ones who are currently battling, have battled, or have unfortunately lost their fight to cancer.

And so with that, I am off to run in the Boston Marathon. See you at the finish line.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Today I went to the DFMC pasta party with my family. Both Brandon, his mother, and his sister and brother also attended, and it could not have made me happier. The program was incredible, and included speakers Uta Pippig, first woman to win 3 consecutive Boston Marathons, and Jack Fultz, my amazing coach and 1976 winner of the Boston Marathon. There was an "in memoriam" slideshow of all of the brave children of the Jimmy Fund clinic who unfortunately lost their battle to cancer. Although it was an extremely emotional portion of the program, the most amazing part was going on stage with Brandon and all of the other individuals in the patient partner program. It was quite an inspirational moment to be in front of everyone with my 4-year-old hero. Brandon has overcome far too many obstacles, more difficult than any 26.2 miles.

I am having a difficult time trying to express my feelings and emotions 13 hours before I cross the starting line of my second Boston Marathon. I am extremely humbled, overwhelmed, excited, nervous, yet feeling entirely fortunate to be apart of such an incredible experience. My teammates are my heros; each and every one of them. Running a marathon for such a wonderful cause is a selfless act, and I am lucky to be associated with these individuals.

I will have to blog before I leave at 5:30 AM, since I am simply unable to write much right now. I am inspired, motivated, and determined to finish the Boston Marathon tomorrow. This is the most incredible feeling.....

And in the words of my incredible coach, Jack Fultz, "the hay is in the barn."

See you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

5 Days.

It is hard to believe that in five short days, I will be running my second Boston Marathon. As a child, I never considered this a possiblity. Year after year, I watched with amazement as each runner passed me by. I always dreamt of achieving such a goal, but knew this was miles and miles away from any reality.

I like a good challenge, and I will not give up until I accomplish any goal that has been set. When I stood anxiously at the starting line last year, I knew I would make it to the end. It did not matter what needed to happen in between, as long as I reached my goal; as long as I ran the 26.2 miles.

And so I find myself five days away from standing at the starting line for yet the second time. I do not know what will happen in between. Life is unpredictable, as is any marathon. But I do know that I will make it to the finish line.

Left foot. Right foot. Repeat.

Monday, April 12, 2010

One Week.

ONE week to go until Boston! As I count down the days, I will be thinking about the 26.2 reasons why I am running.

"The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy...It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed."
-- Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon winner

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Counting Down.

9 days to go until the big day!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Finished Product.

I am so thrilled with how beautiful my singlet turned out! It is such an honor to display the names of these three inspirational people. I will be wearing their names proudly on the upcoming special day.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Two Weeks To Go.

Two weeks from today, I will be setting out on my 26.2 mile journey from Hopkinton to Boston. Nothing is easy about this being my second marathon. In fact, I find aspects of the training and mental preparations to be more stressful. Last year my training was quite difficult as a result of my injury. I had been diagnosed with iliotibial band syndrome, better known as ITBS. In short, it involves the band of tissues that run from the outside of the pelvis to just below the knee. The pain was a result of the continuous rubbing of the band against the femur during running, which ultimately caused inflammation. Although I prepared for the marathon last year to the best of my ability with this injury by icing, stretching, rolling out my leg, and attending physical therapy, I am currently faced with the same ITB issue today.

The discomfort I am experiencing is what I felt last year with four months to still train and nurture my injury. With only two weeks to go, it is safe to say I am extremely nervous and frustrated. I believe my frustrations with this injury stem from the fact that I am certainly not running this marathon for myself. In fact, I never was a huge fan of running. Swimming was always my main gig, but do not get me wrong, I have grown to enjoy certain aspects of running. I can best attribute this enjoyment to the simple fact that I am running this marathon for cancer.

During the marathon last year, I would pass bystanders who would actually thank me for what I was doing. I did not find my running to be anything exceptional and worth thanking me for, but with each occurrence, I was overcome with emotion. When you are running 26.2 miles, there is much time to think about absolutely anything and everything. I thought about the fact that each of these bystanders have been directly affected by cancer, whether it be someone they knew who fought it, or someone who has unfortunately lost their battle. So when I say I am running this marathon for cancer, it is for absolutely everyone.

So as I said earlier, my second marathon is not any easier. Of course my injury has provided with setbacks in my training and focus, but this is something I can handle. It is merely based on the difficult fact that there are more people this year than last that have been diagnosed with cancer or who have lost their battle. I am running for all of these incredibly brave people.

Running a marathon is hard. Fighting cancer is harder.

In just two short weeks, I will set out on my journey to reach the ultimate finish line: A World Without Cancer.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Another Reason Why I Run.

I am running in honor of my incredibly brave new friend, Brandon. This amazing 4-year-old boy is in remission from anaplastic large cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

I met Brandon through the Patient Partner program, which matches Dana-Farber runners with patients at the Institute's Jimmy Fund Clinic. The partners meet numerous times throughout the season for planned activities, such as the "Meet Your Match" and poster decorating parties. On marathon weekend at the DFMC pasta party, both my family and Brandon's will come together to celebrate the anticipating marathon. On marathon Monday when I reach the 25-mile mark near Kenmore Square, I will be greeted by Brandon, his family, and all of the incredible children in the partner program.

With only 5 short weeks to go, I am cherishing every moment of this experience. I am extremely proud and humbled to be running in honor of this courageous young boy. He gives me the strength, determination, and courage I need to get me through 26.2 miles.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Three Years Later.

Three years ago today I got the phone call that I knew was coming. It was from my father telling me that my Auntie Nancy had passed. Prior to this phone call, two days before, both Lindsey and I went to see Auntie Nancy for what was our last time. Although some family members were hesitant about us doing this, we knew in our hearts how important this was. Nobody can prepare you for the moment you have to say goodbye to someone for the very last time. For me, this was the most difficult experience of my life, but when looking back, I realize how important it was in getting me to the point I am at today.

Today, I have the courage, determination, and strength I need to get me through each day, and I thank Auntie Nancy for this. By all means, I am not saying that there is no struggle involved, because there is. It still hurts to go through milestones and experiences without her there. When I most recently passed my exam and became a nurse, I immediately wanted to pick up the phone to tell her. She was always so proud of her "niece the nurse" and I can easily attribute much of my success to her. Having Auntie Nancy in my daily thoughts has provided me the constant motivation I needed to accomplished my goal of becoming a nurse. Although I still struggle at times facing the reality that she is physically absent, one thing remains certain. The courage, determination, and strength she provided me with has allowed me to work towards another very important goal.

The goal is to run 26.2 miles in honor of the extraordinary person that Auntie Nancy was and the incredible legacy she left. I have gone into the marathon training experience with an open mind, knowing that I will have my good runs and my bad runs, but at the end of the day, I know where my motivation comes from. It comes from my role model, my second mom, and my friend. It comes from my Auntie Nancy, with whom has provided me with everything I need to reach the ultimate finish line: A World Without Cancer.

I miss you more and more each day, but I know you are always watching over me. I love you.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Yet Another Reason...

Yesterday, a dear professor of mine passed away after a long and courageous battle with colon cancer. Eileen Hayes was a nursing professor during my final semester at UMass. She took a leave of absence halfway through the semester to focus entirely on her treatment and to get well. I have an email from Eileen that she sent to my nursing class, discussing her condition, treatment, and outlook on the future. Despite the difficult and unimaginable battle she was fighting, Eileen always remained positive.

From the moment I met Eileen, I knew there was something special about the extraordinary individual she was. She was genuine. Compassionate. Kind-hearted. Eileen mentored and inspired her students and always brought out the best in every individual she came in contact with. She was a beloved and highly respected teacher, and I will forever be grateful for the relationship I had with her.

In the email Eileen sent, she shared with us an Irish blessing that was important to her, and in memory of this remarkable woman, I would like to share it with everyone as well.

An Irish Blessing
May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons bring the best to you and yours.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Thank you for opening up your heart, sharing your smile, and teaching me the importance of being a compassionate and competent nurse. You will forever be an inspiration and will never be forgotten.

Another reason why I run....

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Let Me Catch You Up To Speed

I know, I know. It's been a while. Life has been crazy, but so good to me. Not only did I pass my boards and am now a Registered Nurse, but my training is going great! When I look back on where my training was at this time last year, I was working entirely on the Arc trainer, and doing little to no running. My ITB (iliotibial band) injury was at its absolute worst and I was constantly discouraged, with a fear of the condition I would be in on race day.

This past Saturday I ran 8 miles like it was nothing. The true measure of success was based on how I felt the next day. Typically, I am sore, but there is usually a vast majority of pain and discomfort around my right knee. On Sunday, my quads hurt. My hamstrings hurt. Even my abdominals hurt, but my knee did not hurt! I am training smart, and not pushing myself to a point where I know I could cause major discomfort. I am getting all of my miles in and listening to my body. I will continue to keep my fingers crossed in hopes that these next months of training will continue to be successful and injury-free.

After my long run tomorrow, I will be meeting my 3-year-old patient partner for the first time at the DFMC Match Party! Not only am I looking forward to the ice cream sundae bar (obviously), but I truly feel lucky to have the opportunity to work closely with a patient in the Jimmy Fund Clinic. I am looking forward to writing about and sharing my experience with everyone tomorrow!

So until then, stay warm and have a wonderful day!