To Make a Donation to the 2016 team

Please visit my fundraising page to make a donation to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ( Please help me reach my goal of $50,000 to fund important basic cancer research! With your support, we have already provided over $366,000 to Dana-Farber researchers over the past 9 years. Please give as generously as your means allow!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Heartbreak Hill

 On our last long run 3 weeks ago, I was running with a teammate who I am lucky enough to now call a friend.  She had shared the story of her sister's diagnosis earlier that week, and asked as we were running that day about Molly, Mary and John because while she knew their diagnoses and of course, the outcome, she didn't know the full story.  The details, that's not really something we talk about that much, and as we ran, I realized it's because those details are the hard ones.  The real ones.  It's gotten easier to talk about the "big picture" over the years as I've been a part of this team but the day-to-day, the personal moments, those are still so raw.  There is a lot of the 10 years from John's diagnosis to when Mary died that I can't remember or the days or moments run together, but there are moments that are clear as day.  I can remember the 3 phone calls with the news of each diagnosis.  I can see us in Molly's hospital room singing "I've Been Working on the Railroad" because while she was not able to verbally communicate well at that point, she could still remember music.  I know where we were all sitting in my living room when we had to decide to accept an open bed at the hospice house for John.  Or where I was standing in Sears with my mom when Mary called to say the melanoma had spread to her hip bone.

So as we were running stride for stride up Heartbreak Hill in the last couple of miles of our last big training run, I was fighting to hold back a swell of tears that have built up and trying to catch my breath so I could keep moving.  But in that moment, I was so thankful for the opportunity to talk about some of the most painful and heartbreaking days of my life.  I was again reminded of how important running for Dana-Farber has been for me as I have grieved such loss throughout the last 10 years and what a gift it has been.  I've had the chance to channel my sadness into a greater purpose.  I've found meaning in each mile, and have been able to carry Molly, Mary and John with me over thousands of miles as we've come together to find a cure.
The most rewarding part of the last 10 years is the people I've come to know and the kindness that we've been witness to as a result.  Through moments like the run up Heartbreak Hill  with my teammates and the DFMC volunteers just a few weeks ago or a text message of encouragement or the daffodils on my doorstep each February 7 or a meal dropped by the house or an insightful, meaningful note or sitting with a teammate at the funeral of another teammates family member or a hug when there aren't words or sharing a story of a friend that has been diagnosed or a community rallying behind a young girl recently diagnosed or a quick phone call to check in or coworkers uniting in support or hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for cancer research.  The last 10 years has been filled with moments of hope and generosity and selflessness, and that is what I take away from this experience.  There have been uphills and downhills and there has also been continued heartbreak, but more importantly, there has been and continues to be hope.

I am filled with a sea of emotions as I look to tomorrow and taking a step back from the DFMC after 10 years.  The weather forecast itself is enough to induce waves of panic, but trying to focus on what can be controlled!  What is foremost in my mind is gratitude and it is fully focused on you.  I would not have been able to continue without the support of hundreds upon hundreds of people year after year.  I don't know that I will every be able to fully articulate what this decade of support has meant, and what an impact you have made on finding a cure for cancer.  I will run tomorrow in honor and in memory of over 400 people.  It's just too many but I have hope that our efforts together will mean fewer names in the years to come.  Thank you for sharing your stories that have carried me across the finish line 9 times. Thank you for letting me share my stories of Molly, Mary and John a million times over. Thank you for helping me get up and over Heartbreak Hill, both literally and figuratively, because I have not done this alone. Thank you for giving me hope because without hope, we can't move forward.

With the deepest gratitude, I thank you.

be good. be strong.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

I Can Get Home From Here

Last fall, while on a long training run with one of my kindest friends and best training partners, we made a turn onto the trail in our town which meant we were only a couple of miles from home after a long, tough run.  I took a deep breath and said to her, "Okay, I can get home from here."  Knowing we were on a familiar path and getting close to home, we put our heads down and kept running, and I as I repeated in my head "I can get home from here."  A month or so later, we were again running stride by stride during the marathon in Maine we had been training for and I was starting to struggle the last few miles.  In my head, I had started to break down the remaining miles and had reached the point where I had said to myself that we could indeed "get home" from there.  And then as if planned, as we passed the next mile marker, my friend and running buddy looked over and said to me, "We can get home from here."  She, too, remembered that run and saw the finish line coming at us.  Home.

It's a little game we play when running for hours, breaking the distance down into manageable chunks: get to the next mile marker or the next corner or water stop and eventually you find your way to the finish line. I find myself using these same Jedi mind tricks in my day to day.  I am a list maker and break down what needs to be done into smaller pieces and just as we check off  miles when on a run, I can check off my to-dos, eventually getting far enough along to know that wherever I am, I can get home from there.

It's been 10 years since Molly was admitted to the hospital for a final time as the brain tumor caused more and more damage.  I think much of the last 10 years has been trying to reach that spot where we know we can in fact "get home."  10 years ago, getting through next 10 hours seemed like an eternity filled with sadness but through each of the coming days and future challenges, looking for the next checkpoint got us through.  For each of us and for all our individual challenges, not just the loss of a loved one from cancer; that "home" we are trying to get to varies and is always changing.  It may be just getting out of bed today and then tomorrow and then the day after; or getting through a birthday or holiday; feeling strong enough to go to a place filled with memories; not being so angry anymore.  Little by little, you get "home."  And then we set a new corner to reach or milestone to achieve and keep chugging along.

After a long training season, I am now feeling "I can get home" with the marathon this year.  With one more 20-mile training run next week and then the taper, the start line is in sight and I know I can get there.  It's been a challenging training season with some lingering aches and pains that improve with PT treatment but haven't gone away.  I've been taking it one run at a time and trying not to look too far ahead as to not get bogged down.  Each week, I've had some friends and teammates that inspire me to get out there and hobble through the miles.  There's nothing better than checking off the long run for the week, and then setting my eyes on the next run.   

And I know, too, that the $50,000 goal that I set for fundraising this year is attainable with over $43,000 raised so far.  We're over 85% of the way there and I know we can reach that milestone with 4 weeks to go to the marathon.  What a tribute to all of those we have honored throughout the years.  In their honor, we together have contributed quite sizable and impactful funds for cancer research that are being utilized every day in the labs at Dana-Farber.  Thank you for your ongoing and very generous support for 10 years.  I continued to be humbled and inspired by the generosity of so many.  And as it was during the final miles of the marathon in December, what a positive it can be to have friends and family by your side who remind you that you can, and will, get home from here.  

To make a gift and help us reach our goal, please visit

be good. be strong.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The moon, the mountains and the sea

For the last 5 years, to support the fundraising for innovative cancer research, we’ve designed “be good. be strong.” shirts and offered them for sale, which not only provides much needed funds for cancer research, but helps to spread this message that has become a mantra for us and for so many. It's something that we can remember every day, whether it's heading in for radiation treatment or just holding the door for someone. It is a reminder to us all to live with kindness and respect and strength for those we love and for what we believe.
The design this year incorporates an image representative of Molly, Mary and John:

For Molly, a full moon that she wrote about when going through treatment.  The picture is from a few days before she died.  She was in the hospital and friends and family members gathered on the Walnut St. bridge in Chattanooga to dance in the light of the moon.  Each full moon, we are reminded to “reflect on the great gifts of friendships and the support we give each other. It is a wonderful opportunity to consider that so many different people in so many different places have paused to think of each other and the many blessings we have.”

For Mary, the image is from the picture below.  She had just found out the most hopeful of treatment options had failed and she went to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving.  This picture was captured of her on the beach and is representative of the attitude with which she lived.  Always hopeful and positive.

For John, a mountain.  The mountains of Montana called John out west and he found great happiness capturing beautiful moments in the mountains through photography.  To me, the mountains also represent quiet strength which is how I always see my brother.

I hope in this 10th year of running and the 5th year of sharing our message through shirts, that you will consider purchasing a shirt or sweatshirt and wear it proudly on Marathon Monday.  I run for Molly, Mary and John and hundreds of others who have been affected by cancer.  All funds raised will go directly to research to help find new and effective treatments for all types of cancer. 

Thank you so much for all you have done to help in this effort over the last 10 years. Each step, we are closer but we're not done yet! Help us be the change we need!

Gray or red hoodie:  $40
Short sleeve red tee: $25
Long sleeve gray tee: $30
Short sleeve red performance tee: $30
Long sleeve red performance tee: $35
Hats:  $30

For pictures and to order:

be good. be strong.

Friday, January 19, 2018

10 years, One Goal

10 years.  10 years ago around this time was the beginning of what would become 3 of the most impactful and difficult years of my life.  Most of you know that Molly, Mary and John, three of my siblings, lost their lives to cancer in a three year period, and it began in 2008. The years leading up to February of 2008 were certainly a challenge as each of them endured many treatments and surgeries, but that month is when things shattered as cancer became too much for Molly’s body to endure.  Just one year later, John succumbed to the disease almost 10 years after he was first diagnosed and less than two years later, after enduring more than any of us could probably take, Mary also lost her life.  It was devastating.

Our family has spent 10 years learning to adjust and heal to the greatest extent possible after such enormous loss, and one of the ways has been through my participation with the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team. Our support of funding important research has been a family effort that has exceeded all expectations, not just in how successfully we’ve raised funds for innovative research but in how so many people have come together in support and with incredible kindness that has ultimately helped us all through very difficult years.   It’s been an effort that has provided hope and comfort.  It would be impossible to truly express the thanks you all deserve for the support and kindness and generosity you have shown.

Year 1:  2009
For those who have been involved with effort, you may realize that I’m a little late in kicking off my Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge fundraising this year.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my participation on this team after 10 years and what the future looks like.   After much deliberation, I’ve decided that after my 10th Boston Marathon on April 16 this year, I am going into retirement.  It’s not been a quick and easy decision for me.  Am I giving up?  Have I done enough?  I feel some guilt and a little fear as this has been so therapeutic and so meaningful.  It's provided me with purpose and an outlet for grief.  But it's also been heavy.  There are so many still to run for but I have decided it’s time to turn the page to a new chapter, to find new ways to support and fight.  The needs are big, and I'm not walking away but ready to take on new challenges in our effort to find a cure, and am excited to see what is next.

My goal this year is set at $50,000. If we meet that goal this year, it will bring the total over 10 years to over $415,000 which is simply a ginormous amount of money that has already been put to great use in the laboratories at Dana-Farber.  The money raised through the gifts you all have made over the years is changing the future of cancer and I’m so proud to see the life-saving advances that have continued to flow from the brilliant research conducted by the Barr Program recipients.  As you know, 100% of every gift goes directly to research.  I’d love to “retire” with the most successful year yet so I humbly ask once again that you consider a gift as generously as your means allow continuing the work at Dana-Farber so no families experience the untimely and unnecessary loss of those they love to cancer.

You can make a donation online at or can send a check payable to Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge to me at home (let me know if you need the address). 

I have hundreds and hundreds of people to thank for all you have given over the years, but most importantly my family.  My husband, kids, parents, sister and extended family have made this an easier road for me to travel through their support and their fundraising.  Friends and organizations have held fundraisers in support of DFMC.  Many have generously donated year after year including people I don't even know.  There are people who I know who have given beyond what their means allow and others who read a news article or saw a shared social media post who have given a gift in honor of someone they love.  One of the most humbling is the hundreds of people who wear "be good. be strong." shirts to show their support.  I hope you all know the extent of our gratitude.  

While a new chapter is ahead, my goal for the end of the story is still the same:  successful treatment for cancer and increased support of patients and their families to ease the burden a diagnosis brings. Let's do this one more time.

 My sincerest gratitude for your kindness and generosity.  

be good. be strong.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

2017 be good. be strong. shirts are here!

It's t-shirt time again!  The 2017 be good. be strong. shits are on sale now until February 18.  There are 4 options:
  • Long sleeved cotton shirts (youth and adult sizes):  $25
  • Short sleeved performance shirts (youth and adult sizes) :  $30
  • Long sleeved performance shirts (adult sizes only):  $30
  • Hoodies (youth and adult sizes):  $40
This year, we've incorporated a full moon into the be good. be strong. design.  My sister, Molly, shared this message while she was undergoing treatment and it beautifully explains what the full moon means to our family....

"One of the great things about being from a large family is the energy that all the different people bring to the table. One such person is my father's sister. My aunt has traveled the world and one way she tried to stay connected (way, way back before cell phones and email!) was to pause on the night of each full moon and think of her friends. She knew that no matter what corner of the world they were in, they would all be thinking of each other on that same night. Tonight is the full moon for April. We call her Auntie Bonkers (a name she most endearingly deserves) and she called me to tell me she was going to put the hopes and needs of my family at the top of her list tonight. She and all her buddies, my mother's buddies, and hopefully some of you will take the time to stop to smile at the beauty of the light of the full moon. Please take this time to reflect on the great gifts of friendships and the support we give each other. It is a wonderful opportunity to consider that so many different people in so many different places have paused to think of each other and the many blessings we have. I hope you find time to dance in the light of the full moon tonight and know that I am thinking of you. Dance like no one is watching..."

be good. be strong. has become a mantra for us.  It's something that we can remember every day, whether it's heading in for radiation treatment or just holding the door for someone.  It is a reminder to us all to live with kindness and respect and strength for those we love and for what we believe.

Thank you so much for all you have done to help in this effort over the last 9 years.  We're not done yet!  Every day, we fight.

To order shirts:
To donate directly to DFMC:

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Catalyst: a person or thing that precipitates an event or change

At the end of last year’s training season, I had the opportunity to attend a recognition event for fundraisers on the DFMC team who had raised over $13.1k during the 2016 season.  There's two things I love about this event.  The first is that we have the opportunity to hear from one of the Barr program investigators, who are the recipients of the funds raised.  It’s an opportunity to better understand how important those dollars are to continued forward progress with cancer research (And by understand, I mean they dumb it down for the non-scientists so there are snippets that we can sort-of, kind of comprehend).  To learn more about the projects that have recently been funded, you can check out the details HERE. The researchers are conducting innovative studies in all different types of cancer, which is one of the reasons I first joined this team, and their findings are translated into life-changing treatments for cancer patients everywhere.  It's a one of a kind program.

The second is the opportunity to celebrate with, meet and speak with more of my DFMC teammates.  The DFMC team is made up of around 500 members, brought together by the same end goal, which is to raise funds for cancer research.  We are family members, physicians, friends, and survivors who share a common conviction that this program will saves lives.  Over the season, I try to get to as many team events as possible, but the reception is one more chance to get to know others when we aren't gasping for air as we chug up the hills throughout training.

One of my teammates introduced herself to me and we had the chance to talk about what a difference this team has made for many of us.  Last year was her first year as a runner, and she was surprised at how therapeutic it was for her not just have the chance to give back through her participation, which is healing in and of itself, but to be surrounded by a team of people who understood why she was there; to have a safe, relatable environment to talk about her family's experience, her feelings and how cancer has left an eternal mark on her life.  One of the unknown benefits of this team for those of use who run is that it allows a chance to share our stories, our inspirations, our grief, our hope.  It's somewhat unexpected, but what a gift that can be. While the physical act of running has been proven to be good for all of our brains, running with a team charged with a common goal is good for our souls. It provides us a community of people who are great listeners, unrealized therapists, with empathetic and understanding ears.  There’s a surprising comfort in that when out logging miles throughout training. This team works hard year after year to bring change to the future of cancer, and our experiences and the relationships built through our participation, in turn changes us.

I started running the year we lost Molly, as I was searching to do something, anything to help.  Over the past nine years and through even greater loss, it has also proven to be exactly what I’ve needed. It's allowed me an outlet to grieve and to honor my beautiful, kind siblings and so many (far, far too many) of our friends and family members over the 9 years; to have purpose in each miles. There’s hope in what we’ve accomplished so far, power in uniting together with a shared goal, and comfort in all of our shared experiences both good and bad.

So now we are here again, in what is always the hardest few months of the year, but yet as I train and fundraise, I am inspired and comforted by my team, my family and friends, and all of you who have show support through each gift, note, email, picture, and story shared.  You’ve made every step worth it, and every mile is moves us closer.

To help reach this year's goal of $50,000, please consider a gift:

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A New Year, and a big goal

 Happy New Year!  I hope this message finds you well and looking forward to 2017 with great hope.

I was reminded this morning via Facebook of a quote I shared 3 years ago, and after a great long training run with friends followed by much needed time spent cleaning and purging closets at home, I am ready to look towards the New Year and my 9th year running to raise funds for innovative cancer research. 

"What grief is, is a form of love, but with the loved one gone.  So the work of grief is to find a new form for that love, to find a new expression for it, a new commitment, a way to honor that love."  -John Woodall