I'm running the B.A.A. 10K on Sunday, June 23 to raise money for clinical research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital on the little-known chronic disease that has dramatically changed the life of my dear friend and former colleague, Mary Curran.
Mary and I grew close working together at New Profit. I remember interviewing Mary and thinking how I'd not only love to work with her but could also imagine us becoming fast friends, and we did! Mary is one of the warmest, funniest, most generous, and self-aware people I have ever met.
With our shared love of talking about all the hard things we all navigate in life, Mary shared with me that, while seemingly extremely healthy, she had been on a long journey fighting a chronic disease called POTS. As a D1 college volleyball player, on her first day of spring training her freshman year she stood up from doing a bench press and couldn’t see straight. Her health began to deteriorate and she had to go on medical leave because she could not walk on her own.
It took over 50 appointments with doctors across the country (most of whom were largely perplexed by her wide-ranging symptoms) before Mary was diagnosed with POTS in 2008. POTS (Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) is a condition that affects blood flow circulation as a result of the autonomic nervous system not functioning correctly. This essentially makes Mary’s body think it is laying flat at all times, leading to a whole host of symptoms from dizziness to GI issues that affect normal day to day life. The doctor who diagnosed Mary told her that she would have POTS forever and that while she would never run a marathon or climb a mountain, he would help her live as close to a normal life as possible.
Fast forward 11 years, Mary is running the B.A.A. 10K to raise money to support clinical research on innovative treatments for POTS that Dr. Peter Novak is spearheading at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where Mary now works as an Associate Director of Development. I’m running with her because Mary has inspired me to keep going every day, even when it feels physically or emotionally impossible. Mary struggles daily with POTS symptoms including fatigue, numbness, heart palpitations, and digestive issues, and yet feels lucky to be as healthy as she is. I am continually amazed by Mary's strength, motivation, and endless optimism.
This 10K race will be Mary's biggest athletic accomplishment since getting diagnosed. Through raising money for this clincial research with this team of runners and friends, she hopes to help to ease the journey and improve quality of life for the millions of POTS patients around the country, especially those who don’t have the access to the care and support that she has had.
In 2008, during a clinical trial with a POTS specialist, he wrote in Mary’s chart, "she is able to walk by dint of willpower alone." That same willpower is going to get her through her first 10K in June.
I so appreciate your support, whether you choose to donate or just cheer us on!
More about the BAA 10K:
On Sunday, June 23, hundreds of teammates will come together to run the 2019 Boston Athletic Association’s (B.A.A.) 10K® road race to support Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital (BWFH ). BWH and BWFH care for patients across New England, throughout the United States, and from 120 countries around the world. Every day, clinicians, researchers, and caregivers work to find new ways to predict, prevent, and treat the most challenging diseases of our time while delivering world-class care with a profoundly human touch. BWH and BWFH B.A.A. 10K teams are proud to fuel quality patient care, innovative training, and life-changing discoveries that will benefit patients here in Boston and around the world.
More about POTS:
POTS is estimated to impact 1 out of 100 teenagers and, including adult patients, a total of 1,000,000 to 3,000,000 Americans. POTS can cause lightheadness, fainting, tachycardia, chest pains, shortness of breath, GI upset, shaking, exercise intolerance, temperature sensitivity, and more. While POTS predominantly impacts young women who look healthy on the outside, researchers compare the disability seen in POTS to the disability seen in conditions like COPD and congestive heart failure.