Heather's 2004 marathon letter

Dear family and friends,

Hopefuly the new last name didn’t fool you—this past August, Tom and I married on a beautiful Friday afternoon in an outdoor ceremony overlooking the harbor just north of Boston. But my passion for running hasn’t changed! I will once again be running the Boston Marathon—my seventh!—to raise money for cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Our wedding has caused me to reflect on just how much my life has been influenced by running and Dana-Farber these past six years.

Six years ago, during my first marathon, I had the pleasure of being partnered with Brittany Lambert, a beautiful thirteen-year-old girl who was battling myleodisplasia, a rare blood disease that leads to cancer. After Brittany's death, I became close friends with her family, and her older sister, Brianne, did me the honor of being one of my bridesmaids.

Five years ago, Tom and I were introduced at a local road race by two mutual friends. We had both just run our first marathon and unfortunately had both suffered a loss due to cancer. Tom's nephew, just a toddler, had passed away from a brain tumor, and Brittany had just past away a few months previously. Running for Dana-Farber led to a long conversation over a few beers and, ultimately, our wedding last summer.

Our wedding reflected our passion for both running races and battling cancer. A local justice of the peace presided over our ceremony and took special care to tell the story of how we had met through running. In lieu of favors, Tom and I decided to make a donation to Dana-Farber in honor of our guests, and the JP made sure to explain the significance of our decision and the importance we place on supporting cancer research. Our family and friends took great pleasure in finally meeting Brittany's sister and parents; meanwhile, our running friends kept the dance floor hopping. No detail was overlooked—even the cake for our rehearsal dinner was adorned with a plastic bride and groom figurine, to which a friend had cleverly attached running sneakers, and decorated to look like the start or finish of a road race.

I purposely left this detail ambiguous—was this the start or finish? In many ways, I was at the finish line of my single life, yet at the starting line of a new phase. However, there is one finish line I have yet to reach, and I'm hoping that you will help me on my way: the end of cancer.

Last year, I mentioned that the daughter of one of Tom's friends had been recently diagnosed with leukemia. I'm pleased to report that Amber is 1 ½ years into her treatment and is doing remarkably well. Her parents, Amy and Victor, joined us at our wedding—a double-celebration, as it marked nearly a year since Amber was first diagnosed. But there are still several more months of treatment and years of worry ahead of them.

Over the past six years you have helped me to raise more than $45,000 for cancer research at Dana-Farber, and I want to thank you for your never-ending support, whether financial or emotional. I hope that you will consider contributing this year and help me reach that finish line that will end cancer for good. 100% of your tax-deductible donation funds Barr Program researchers at Dana-Farber, ensuring novel approaches in basic cancer research.

While a cure was not found in time for Brittany, I know that the researchers that we are supporting today will eventually find one for children like Amber. Thank you for your support and encouragement!


Read 2003 marathon letter
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Read 2005 marathon letter

Last updated on March 29, 2008 .
Any problems, contact Heather.