Heather's 2009 marathon letter

Dear family and friends,

It’s that time of year: in less than two weeks, on Monday, April 20, I will be running the 113th Boston Marathon as a member of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team. A dozen years… Who would have guessed when I nervously toed the line in 1998 that I would return year after year to run the granddaddy of all marathons? Certainly not me—the few times I did join friends for a run, it usually both began and ended with me grumbling: the early hour, their far-too-quick pace, an accumulation of blisters from ill-fitting sneakers. What changed? I have been inspired—a dozen times over—by the most amazing young women, waging their own personal marathon against cancer research.

By Brittany Lambert. Brittany was my patient-partner that first year, an amazing teenager who celebrated life as passionately and fearlessly as she faced death. I have remained close to her family and earlier this winter went to a Bruins hockey game with her sister, Brianne. Brianne has grown into a beautiful, self-confident young woman who openly shares her dedication to Dana-Farber. As we reminisced and enjoyed one of Brittany’s favorite pastimes, my mind traveled back in time, recalling nearly verbatim a conversation with Brittany about meeting her favorite Bruin. Brianne now shed new light on that encounter, describing how Brittany had been feeling poorly, but had perked up ten-fold when the opportunity presented itself. Carpe diem, after all. Two incredible sisters, the same conversation, a dozen years apart.

By Amber DaRosa. Six years ago, Amber was diagnosed with leukemia. Although four year-olds are not usually allowed in the patient-partner program, an exception was made because Amber’s parents are high-school friends of Tom’s. She meets me every year at mile 25, and I have had the immense pleasure of watching her evolve into a healthy, cancer-free young lady. The first year, we pushed her in a carriage. The next, I carried her most of the way. The following year, a slow walk. Most recently, she’s been the one pushing and pulling me along that last mile. This winter I joined Amber and her family at a special party for runners and their partners at the Children’s Museum and could not help but wonder at the transformation of this nearly-ten year-old as she easily (and repeatedly) climbed a rock wall. It’s nothing compared to what she’s already survived.

These young women, and their families, inspire me through the miles each year. And they remind me that we still have many miles to go. Please take a few minutes today to support my 12th marathon run. 100% of your tax-deductible donation funds Barr Program researchers at Dana-Farber, ensuring novel approaches in basic cancer research.

With thanks and appreciation,

PS: As I have every year, I will be wearing the names of your loved ones, cancer victims and survivors, on my marathon-day singlet to spur me forward. Be sure to email me so I can include them.

Read 2008 marathon letter
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Read 2010 marathon letter

Last updated on April 16, 2010 .
Any problems, contact Heather.