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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!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Company We Keep

So, I've had some days that turn into weeks sometimes when I just get in a funk and can't get out of my own head.  What am I doing with myself?  Is it the right thing?  Could it be more? Or less?  Am I expending energy where I should?  Too much where I shouldn't?  Have we made the right choices?  Are there changes to be made?  I sit and stew and over-think and work myself into a bigger headache without really figuring anything out.  I've been that way the past couple of weeks, and the past few days I've been reminded by the "answers" that are all around me.  Those answers are people...and those people are those who inspire and motivate me.

I'm fortunate enough to be involved with some pretty amazing organizations and groups of people.  The one I write about the most is the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team, and the past few weeks have not be devoid of inspiring connections.  A couple of weeks ago, the Dana-Farber team ran our final "big" run of the training season.  Most of the team was going 20-22 miles out the Boston Marathon course.  There must have been close to 200 runners gathered together before heading out to run.  Everyone is brought to this team for a reason.  Because themselves or someone they loved has been diagnosed with cancer.  Hilary...18  year survivor of pediatric AML...mother of three beautiful kiddos....full-time research coordinator at Dana-Farber...devoted teammate.  Leslie...volunteer extraordinaire...lost her husband to cancer....always with a smile and kind word.  The Dubuc family....Team Matty in honor of their son/brother....endless determination to fight cancer in Matty's memory and share love and kindness with the entire team....Don't stop believing.  Teresa....current teammate who was diagnosed in December while training...still trying to run through chemo...vows to start the marathon and go as far as she can....supported by her community through a 5k road race.  Runners who lost their best friends as children.  Runners who can't run because of injury who are logging 3 hours in the gym or pool to stay in shape.  Runners who have been running for 15 or 20 years to help end cancer.  Runners who are cancer survivors and haven't been slowed in the least.  They remind me to get out of my funk and keep moving forward.

I've also been lucky enough to being coaching a beginning running program.  I got certified as a running coach last summer and started the program in January and we're still moving.  This group came out twice a week for 10 weeks through one of the coldest winters in years to train.  Minute by minute we built up their running.  Through layers upon layers, frozen precipitation, dark and dreary winter mornings, they showed up each week and reminded me of the joy that running can bring.  How empowering it feels.  How setting a goal and working to reach it is such a reward and gift for ourselves.  They remind me to get out of my funk and keep moving forward.

And then there is the Fit Girls program, a running club for 4th-6th grade girls that meets to train for a 5k but also incorporates reading and community service.  It's not competitive, which is a welcome change from many youth sports these days, and the mission is to help girls lead healthy lives through running, ready and giving back to the community.  We are starting our fifth season and each has been full of so many rewards.  Seeing 100+ girls cross the finish line with smiles on their faces....hearing the pride as they tell how many laps or how many minutes they've run....watching them support and cheer for each other with no concern with winning....seeing them achieve their very own personal goals.  Additionally, I get to stand next to 5 other ladies each week who emanate strength and who make me laugh and inspire me to be better.  I am planning to cross the finish line of the Maine Coast Marathon along side these women as we strive for that collective goal we've set together.  They all remind me to get out of my funk and keep moving forward.

And it goes without saying that our friends and family don't provide the same.  If I've learned nothing else over the past five years, I know the value of surrounding yourself with those who make you a better person.  I've been witness to some real ugly in people, and who has time for that.  I mean, really.  I don't want to be around anyone who puts me in a funk (I can't escape myself, mind you, and I am usually the one who puts myself there) and sets me back. Now, I'm no Pollyanna and I can be a ginormous pain in the ass.  And there are times when I am probably the cause of someone's bad day (or week), but I work for the opposite.  But when the world gets spinning too fast and my brain doesn't slow down, instead of looking for the big answer, I need to just take a deep breath and look around.  Because I've made some good decisions that have led me to the company I keep. And for that, I am grateful.

And I am incredibly grateful for the many people who make up the ginormous team each year that supports the DFMC.  I run, but it is through the kindness and dedication and generosity of many, many people that we have together raised over $200,000 for innovative cancer research in the past 6 years.  Just incredible.  I am almost to my goal of $35,000 for this season, and in all honestly, would gladly sail by!  My thanks to all of you have supported the Barr Program.  It's making a difference.

Be good.  Be strong.

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