Heather's 2006 marathon letter

Dear family and friends,

My annual letter is quite late this year, but I hope you will forgive me! I changed jobs at MIT over the summer, moving from the Alumni Association to a position in resource development, traveling one week a month to San Francisco to meet with alumni. I’m also finishing up my MBA at Boston College and will—thankfully—graduate next month. It’s been a busy year, but still nothing could be more important than asking for your support as I run my ninth Boston Marathon on Monday, April 17th as a member of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team.

Last year’s marathon weekend began with a visit from my college friend Karen, whose husband Mark passed away from cancer. I had asked Karen if I could run in memory of Mark, and she very bravely made the trip to Boston for the marathon on the six month anniversary of his death. It seemed only fitting that Karen would join me for a Saturday breakfast with Brittany’s mother and sister, Linda and Brianne, who understand all too well the pain of losing someone so young. Yet we all found a little something in our memories to smile about. On Sunday, Tom and I met up with Amber and her family for the annual pre-marathon pasta party, at which Amber and I had a great time getting our faces painted. My time with Karen, Linda, Brianne and Amber stayed with me the next day and propelled me through the streets of Hopkington, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, and Brookline. In the shadow of Fenway Park, I met Amber at mile 25 and she ran, skipped, and walked the final mile with me—a tremendous contrast to previous years when I carried her much of the way. We were having so much fun that we lost track of time and suddenly heard one-minute warning announced for the close of the finish. I scooped up Amber and we ran the last hundred yards giggling like crazy as our fans cheered us on. We missed the close by only a few seconds, but I’ll never forget Amber telling me to run faster!

As many of you heard, shortly after the marathon, Tom’s mother, Mary, was diagnosed with breast cancer. What you may not have known is that this is in fact her 2nd diagnosis—more than three decades apart. The first came in her late 20s after the birth of Tom’s brother and sisters. Cancer treatment was much more invasive back then, and while the mastectomy and radiation no doubt saved her life, it took its toll, and she was told she would never have any more children. As I am sure you have figured out, that turned out to not be the case, and it is my wonderful luck that Tom was born several years later!

In a strange twist of fate, Mary’s annual mammogram went missing last spring, and her doctor ordered a new one—just in case. I don’t think any of us will bemoan some administrative error that caused the test to disappear, because the new one showed a small lump in her remaining breast. She had a second mastectomy in July, followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments, before receiving a clean bill of health earlier this year. What struck me throughout this period were her comments that the treatment had improved so much, from the ill effects of the drugs to the physical impact of the surgery.

Cancer research and treatment are improving every day, and you have played an important role in this progress over the past eight years by helping me to raise nearly $65,000 for cancer research at Dana-Farber. 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 to 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 and Mark, my mother-in-law and Amber are living proof that the researchers that we are supporting today are closer than ever to finding a cure for cancer. Thank you for your support and encouragement!


PS - Amber has informed me that we will beat the clock this year!

Read 2005 marathon letter
Return to Marathon page
Read 2007 marathon letter

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