March 21, 2013
Today is 25 days before the Boston Marathon, the day I run 25 miles to help cure cancer. Don’t worry, you won’t be the first person to ask me if I realize that a marathon is 26.2 miles. To explain, we need to go back five years to my first marathon…
I stood motionless, as I watched runners continue to the 113th Boston Marathon finish line. It had taken me 16 months to reach this place on the course. The year before, just two weeks before my first Boston Marathon, I found myself in the hospital with a server case of mononucleosis, destine to watch my first marathon from bed.
Yet, there I was, in pain, defeated and unable to gather the strength to finish. When I looked up, I noticed the iconic red and orange Citgo triangle. To my right, Fenway Park in the distance. I realized I was at mile 25 of the marathon. With a little over a mile left, and after 2 years of hard work, I reached deep down for a way to finish. I commanded my body to start running, but after a couple of steps, I stopped. I tried again and again, with no success. I can’t remember a moment in my life that I felt more defeated, more hopeless. Minutes felt like hours. I desperately searched for the littlest bit of hope to give me the confidence to continue. I took my hands off my knees, lifted my head and lunged forward with a roar of pain and belief. This time I didn’t stop until the finish line. A life lesson that wouldn’t be challenged until…
Two years later I stood on that same spot. It happens to be the location where some of the children from the Jimmy Fund Client cheer on the Dana-Farber Marathon Team. This time I was hugging my Dana-Farber marathon partner, Brendan. At the time, he was a 10 year old patient being treated for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the Jimmy Fund Clinic. Over the months before the marathon, Brendan and his family brought me into their world of a child with Leukemia. Brendan would walk me through the different treatments and protocols he would follow. He would explain to me about the different drugs that he would have to take. He showed me the tubes, the scars and the other pains of cancer that are left behind the curtain for people like me to never see.
I can’t think of another spot on Earth that has taught me more about what a human will do to endure. Since then, my marathons end at Mile 25 (with a 1.2 mile victory lap). I have seen the success of Dana-Farber through Brendan. Today when Brendan and I talk, it’s about school, video games, and girls (I wasn’t ready for that one!). Through events with the Dana-Farber Leadership Council I’ve had the privilege to speak with the doctors and scientists working on the next steps to cure cancer. I can tell you, our donations are well spent.
Like many of you, I am recently reminded that the cancer marathon is not over. Since my last marathon, an extended family member was diagnosed with brain cancer and is fighting for his life. A close family friend was diagnosed with breast cancer that has metastasized to the lymph nodes. And another friend continues her multi-year battle.
This morning, I ask you to help everyone to reach their Mile 25 by donating to Dana-Farber. The Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge directs 100 percent of funds raised to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of your company’s generous donation matching program. If you are unsure if your donation is eligible for a match by your employer, please inquire with your Human Resources department.
I sincerely thank you.
To donate go to http://www.runDFMC.org/2013/patricko
To learn more go to http://www.rundfmc.org/faf/home/ccp.asp?ievent=1039390&ccp=116364
To see Barr Program Impact go to Impact
For decades, researcher Mina Bissell pursued a revolutionary idea — that a cancer cell doesn’t automatically become a tumor, but rather, depends on surrounding cells (its microenvironment) for cues on how to develop. She shares the two key experiments that proved the prevailing wisdom about cancer growth was wrong.
Watch her inspiring talk on TED. http://www.ted.com/talks/mina_bissell_experiments_that_point_to_a_new_understanding_of_cancer.html
I just checked out your Caring Bridge site again, www.caringbridge.org/visit/brendanbarrie. I haven’t been their in a while. Even though I’ve been there many times, I have never noticed all the frogs :). I like them! I am going to forward the link to everyone that has been asking about you. (There is a lot of them!)
Your grandmother told me she is doing the Neponset Valley Walk for Animals in Easton on May 15th. That’s great! I’ll have to ask her all about it this afternoon when I see her.
Don’t forget your orange bracelets today. I’m sure we can get a few donations for you. I know a bunch a people who want one.
Well I’m very glad that the tiger didn’t make you his afternoon snack! That must have been a bit unnerving. After that I think I would have told them it’s time to go see the new anteater exhibit, enough with the man-eating animal. It’s great you got to feed the giraffes. Your grandmother told all about how much you liked giraffes after I wrote the My Morning Run entry back in January. How cool was it to be standing next to a creature that tall?
Are you still eating? I know how tough it is for you. Any time you want to head back to Kiku-Yama just let me know. We’ll get you a pile of the shrimp I saw you digging into on Tuesday night. I liked that dish too. I think I’ll be getting next time we go.
I got out for my first run today since March 22. It went ok. Slow and steady. But don’t worry, we will be doing the marathon. I wouldn’t miss it. Not even a hungry tiger will stop me. (Actually it might make me run faster!) We got 2 weeks; plenty of time.
I need something really important from you, partner. I need one of your orange Brendan’s Buddies bracelets. I’m going to wear it during the marathon.
I just looked at the clock. It’s late, so you won’t see this tonight because hopefully you are sleeping. I hope you are feeling a little better. I know you got yet another busy day seeing doctors, so I’ll give you a call late in the afternoon to see how you made out.
How are you today? Thank you taking me to the Jimmy Fund Clinic with you for your treatments today. I appreciated it more than you know.
I am very sorry to hear about your friend that passed away this week. I know that is very sad. I loved how much you smiled and laughed when you mom told everyone the story how the first time you met his mom you were at the hospital. While playing with a small remote helicopter it got caught in her hair and everyone was afraid they would have to cut her hair to get it out.
I am sorry that your Parvo test came back positive again. I saw how disappointed you were. I know you were hoping for the third negative you needed so you wouldn’t have to be in isolation while at the clinic. I will come to more of your treatments to help past the time while we building Legos. You will have to show me the one you didn’t have time to work on today.
Once again, you showed me how you are such amazing person. The courageous way you approached each procedure, the mature manner you spoke to the doctors and nurses and the knowledge you expressed as you help explain to me about your treatments has humbled me. I cannot truly understand what you have to go through but over the past months you have allowed me to understand a little bit more.
I am amazed at how much you accomplish with such a positive attitude each week. I’m sure this is “normal” for you but for me it’s just crazy. Hopefully I’m not missing too much but your week is full of school, tutoring, physical therapy, chemo, trips to multiple doctors, medications, procedures, medications for the medications, and hopefully some play time too. And you do all this usually on just one meal a day because you have no appetite. Many people can learn a lesson from you.
Your mom and dad are pretty special people too. I see how much they love you. I also see how much they have given themselves to the one thing in the world that want, and that’s a healthy you.
I’m crossing my fingers that your numbers came back good enough to continue chemo today. I’ll check in later for an update.
Hopefully today will be a better day.