Friday, November 14, 2014

The Official Announcement: We're Going For It Again!

It is with enormous pleasure that I officially post on Run, MeriG. Run. to announce that I've made the commitment to run with the 2015 Boston Marathon Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) team for a second year!

For those of you that have known me or read my blog over the past few years, you've known the journey that led me to running this past April with DFMC. It started with my dad's treatment at Dana-Farber and ended with what I can pretty much say with confidence was the most amazing day of my life.

A proud Dana-Farber patient and his daughter

Importantly, it led this to have happened:

$11,298. Awesome. Astounding. Amazing. (And A big thank you again!) The official tally of money raised through the 2014 DFMC team was $8,263,308.05. Over eight. million. dollars. Wow.

And so, I thought to myself: should this just be a one-time thing? Yes, I loved the training (even in the cold horrible winter!) And, yes, I loved the DFMC community. And, yes, I have never felt better about being able to feel like I was giving back to my world by being able to gather people to raise funding for a cause I truly believe in. And....yes. I loved, loved, loved that amazing marathon. But did I need to do it all again?

When the application came out for the 2015 team, these were the thoughts running through my head. Perhaps I should focus on a marathon that involved no fundraising. No commitment in that way. No effort outside of the one that will lead me to four months of training and 26.2 miles.

There are a lot of Marathons to run.

But then I got an email from DFMC that Darby had passed away. Darby spoke at the pasta dinner the night before the Boston Marathon this past April. I wrote about Darby last year because of the impact she had made on me. Dying of cancer, she stood up and she thanked us for what we were doing. She was eloquent, she was inspiring, and she was strong, but she couldn't beat her cancer.

The email had her speech from that dinner attached. I read it. And then I immediately filled out my application for the 2015 Boston Marathon team.

100% of funds raised through DFMC go to the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research. This fund is one of the largest and most successful program of its kind, funding the brightest and most creative scientists making basic research discoveries that will transform cancer treatment. The program has funded numerous major breakthroughs, resulting in improved survival rates and quality of life for thousands of patients. To say I am passionate about this cause would be the understatement of the century.

Last year, I ran in honor of my father. This year, I run in honor of those currently undergoing treatment or who -- like Darby -- have lost their valiant battle. I have -- again -- pledged $10,000 for Dana-Farber this year.

The link to donate is I'll try not to annoy you too much as I embark on training once again, and I thank you in advance for your support. Any donation -- be it of your hard-earned money or of the time you take in passing this along to others -- is appreciated and valued. More to come on fun events and fundraising programs to make this year a little spicier!

In terms of the actual running...? I think I've got this (:::knocking on all the wood!!!:::). But I promise after today to keep keepin' things fun and to find shenanigans to make this blog interesting (?) as I embark officially on my training program after the New Year.

I'll leave you with an excerpt from Darby's pasta dinner speech this past April. Darby -- with a mere five more months of her life ahead of her -- heroically stood in front of that enormous ballroom and thanked us. She said:

So, the reason I am here today is to thank you all for what you are doing as part of the DFMC team: 
Thank you for training through this horrible weather this winter that most of you endured. It was cold, and  snowy, and icy—and those were the good training days. You all worked your way through injuries, aches, and pains to get here… And while I do look at marathon training with a little envy, even I was happy not to be out there for some of the group runs.
Thank you for the support of the DFMC team. Some of the most wonderful people I have ever met are part of this team. They have been by my side through this unenviable journey in ways I could never have imagined five years ago, and are some of my best friends. The broader DFMC community has also been amazing in its support through countless e-mails and texts, running for me, and showing up—at fundraisers, walks, and even chemo sessions. This means so much to me, and for all these reasons and more, DFMC holds a very special place in my heart. 
Thank you for running and representing the care provided at Dana-Farber. Some of you have experienced this firsthand and that is why you are here. For those of you who haven’t, Dana-Farber is very different from any other medical experience…and it is extraordinary. As a patient, I have known from day one that I am in the best hands. The entire institution—from the parking attendants to world renowned oncologists, like my doctor, Eric Winer—is organized to put the patients’ needs first, and this is something I feel consistently. This superlative care makes the experience so much more bearable, but, unfortunately, it does NOT cure cancer. 
And so, finally, and most importantly, I want to thank you for the $5.3 million dollars—or more!—you are raising to fund research. This is an incredible number, and it is SO needed. As Dr. Benz mentioned, it is more difficult to get public funding today than in the past—especially for investigators new in their careers.And research is yielding results at a faster pace than in the past. Since May, I have been on two FDA approved drugs that were not available at the turn of the century. And just this past Friday, I started on a clinical trial for a targeted therapy that hopefully will be effective for me. This has added almost a year to my life so far – all with drugs not available to my aunt who passed from the disease in the late ‘90s. The pipeline of research ideas is rich and promising; they just need funding. I am confident that by funding researchers—especially young investigators early in their careers—in the future, people in my position will live. How great will that be?

* * * * * * * 
With 156 days to go, we have raised $200 towards my $10,000 pledge 
for the 2015 Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge! 

To donate or learn more: