“Your dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and has started intense chemotherapy treatments” was the first time I can remember hearing the word cancer, I was 18 years old. I remember seeing my dad for the first time, while he was going through treatment, he was almost unrecognizable. He was thinner than normal and missing all his facial hair, his eye brows were gone and he was weaker than I knew him to be. My dad fought a hard battle, and after completing his treatments, has been in remission ever since (14 years and counting).
Three years later, that word came up again. Cancer. This time, my mom. She had stage 4 lung cancer and was given 6 months to live. I was 22 at the time, I was 3 weeks post college graduation and starting my first “real job”. All I remember was my mom being more worried about protecting myself and my brother than she was about her diagnosis. She struggled to tell us because she was afraid of what it might do to us. US! She had always been the strongest person I know. She immediately started chemotherapy and intense rounds of radiation. So many it was hard to keep count. I sat by her through countless treatments along with all of my family. We watched her lose her energy, lose her identity, her hair was coming out in chunks and she could barely eat. My mom was so stubborn through it all, she went through 4 years of fighting despite her 6 month timeline. She kept the most positive mindset ALWAYS. No matter how she felt, and she persisted in her pursuit of living. However, everything changed in one early 6:30 am phone call, “your mom is going into emergency surgery, her lung collapsed, you have to come and say goodbye”. My family and I were by her side for the 3 days following, over that Easter Weekend and into that Monday. April 1,2013 is the day she lost her battle.
Cancer touches too many lives. It rips apart families, forces you to grow up faster than you are ready for, it robs its patients of their identities and any future family memories.
I am beyond honored to be running the 2020 Boston Marathon with the Joe Andruzzi Foundation (JAF). I am running to raise awareness for how cancer impacts both patients and their families lives. I’m running to honor both my parents whose diagnosis rocked me to the core. I am running to give hope to those fighting that the only thing they need to worry about is fighting and getting better. JAF makes it their mission to make this epidemic a little easier on patients and their families. The funds I will be raising will be used to serve cancer patients of all ages throughout New England who experience the hidden costs of cancer as a result of a diagnosis. Cancer-related income loss combined with rising treatment costs often leads to financial stress as families struggle to cover their everyday expenses. JAF understands that crucial living expenses are not put on hold because of a diagnosis, and their Financial Assistance Program helps alleviate financial stress through the distribution of grants and gift cards to assist with rent/mortgage payments, utilities, food, and other household expenses.