26.2 for Beer???

Well, not quite.  But it is official – I have registered for the SMUTTYNOSE ROCKFEST MARATHON!  As many of you may have guessed, I am hooked on running the Boston Marathon for Dana-Farber for as long as my body will allow, which hopefully is a very long time.  However, you may not have predicted that I’d be running more than one marathon a year.  Well, it occurred to me the other day that I have not run since Marathon Monday.  Yes, a lot has been going on but running 3 miles doesn’t take that long.  This is when I realized that I am a goal oriented person in every aspect of my life and that I simply require a concrete goal to motivate me to lace up my running shoes.  Thus, I started shopping for fall marathons.  Through the recommendation of some good friends and possibly through the lure of a good microbrew, I decided to register for the Smuttynose Marathon.  Luckily, I have already found a running buddy – or at least someone who will wait for me at the end and toast to all 26.2 miles.  The speedy, Lynda Nijensohn (see previous post), has said she is up for the challenge as well. And Team Living Proof continues…


Yesterday, I professed my dedication to the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team and explained how I was glowing with pride as I ran the marathon course in my DFMC singlet.  I also explained how I would not have wanted to run for any other team… which is mostly true.  There is one small caveat to this statement, though.  Within the DFMC team, there is an even smaller team of which I am most proud to be a member – The Living Proof Team.  It is solely comprised of… you guessed it – Living Proof that we can beat cancer!  We represent how far cancer treatment has come and provide proof that donations for cancer research make a difference.        
My pride for The Living Proof Team is shadowed only by the admiration I have for my teammates.  As someone who endured two rounds of intense induction chemotherapy, total body irradiation, more chemo, graft versus host disease, grand mal seizures induced by drug toxicity, 13 years of coping with probable infertility, and a host of other long-term side effects, I got used to thinking I didn’t have it easy.  That was until I met my Living Proof Teammates.  
A quick shot for the camera with Lynda
during the infamous long-run.
Only a couple of months ago, I arrived at a 16 mile DFMC long-run and as I did with all long-runs, I put on my heart rate monitor and started running.  That day proved to be a particularly challenging day for me.  My heart rate was through the roof and I felt exhausted only 5-6 miles into the run.  I started feeling a little frustrated that I had to overcome treatment related heart-issues.  It wasn’t long though, before I started running with someone who would quickly change my perspective.  Lynda Nijensohn was also feeling frustrated that day because her legs weren’t performing up to par.  Don’t get me wrong – she was running good 10-10.5 min miles – but she wasn’t happy with how she felt.  As I started chatting with her, I realized that her legs felt rotten not because she was having a ‘bad day’ but because less than 48 hours prior she received treatment at Dana-Farber.  Lynda is a breast cancer survivor who endured 4.5 months of chemo followed by 5 surgeries and 6.5 weeks of radiation, all while taking care of her 1 and 3 year old children.  As she proceeded to drop me and said she’d see me soon, I thought,  “This girl is crazy….  and I love it!”  Needless to say, Lynda’s courage and persistence helped me get through the remainder of that long-run and is likely what jump started our friendship (our mutual love for Stowe, VT also probably had something to do with it).  Lyn-Deez, you rock! 

Lyn-Deez, in all her glory on
Marathon Monday.


As a cancer survivor, it is sometimes hard to explain to others how the disease has forever changed you – the fears of recurrence and secondary malignancy, frustration with the long-term side effects, and the guilt that you made it through while others did not.  However, in the company of other survivors, not only do you not have to explain your emotions but you feel unspoken support.  There are many members of the Living Proof Team that I met for the first time on marathon weekend, yet within minutes, felt like I had known for years.  Eileen, Claire, Jacqueline, and of course, Lynda – you are all amazing women and I am so fortunate to have met you!  This also goes for Hedi, the amazing marathoner and breast cancer survivor whom I met at mile 2 and brought me in through the finish line.  

Living Proof Team group shot with the entire DFMC team.
Lynda and I are standing front and center (I’m rocking the pink hat).
My final thought and today’s pre-Marathon Mention:

In the photo above, you can see the Living Proof Team huddled around a sign displaying all of our names on small stars.  What you cannot pull from this photo, is the amazing sense of hope that echoed through the entire DFMC group as each Living Proof Teammate came forward for the picture.  Although for just one moment we may have felt like stars, it was only because we represented something far greater – PROOF that we can beat cancer!  As I smiled for this picture and fought back tears, I knew that I was incredibly fortunate.  Cancer sucks but without it, I would not feel so ALIVE!      

“The worst thing in your life may contain the seeds of the best.” 
~ Joe Kogel, cancer survivor

It’s the name on the front of the jersey that matters most…

“It’s the name on the front of the jersey that matters most, not the one on the back.” ~Joe Paterno

Although I had two names on the front of my singlet on race day, only one of those names truly mattered to me as I ran the 26.2 miles – DANA-FARBER.

I ran all 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon course proudly displaying my team Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge singlet.  It was a sign to everyone, both runners and spectators, that I was running with a greater purpose.  Yes, running 26.2 miles is noteworthy accomplishment as my recovering legs can attest to that.  But, running those 26.2 miles with the primary goal of increasing awareness and actively fighting a devastating disease- now that’s something you can really be proud of.  I did have my name printed on the front of my singlet as this is a Boston Marathon tradition, especially for the charity runners.  I will admit, I got a little emotional when an adorable little 5-6 year old boy yelled “Go Hilary. You’re doing great!” around mile 13 as he stuck his hand out for a high-five.  However, nothing could compare to the overwhelming feeling that washed over me as literally hundreds of people yelled out “Thank you for running for Dana-Farber!”  Maybe it was because these reminders of a greater purpose occurred at least every 10 minutes throughout the entire race, that I never felt any sense of urgency in reaching the finish line.  Speaking of the Dana-Farber Team, here’s a shot of all 550 of us before the marathon.

Since the marathon was so much more than a usual long-run, it is going to take more than one blog post to give a full recount.  Thus, I am going to update the blog with a new marathon story every day or two.  

Marathon Mention for 4/24:
Somewhere between miles 22 and 23, as my legs started feeling like I had been running for a couple hours, I saw a family on the right side of the road.  There was a teenage girl who was bald, with some peach fuzz growing in and she was wearing an N95 mask (the mask I wore for months after my bone marrow transplant for infection prevention).  I instantly had a flashback to the days of mask wearing, post transplant and that amazing feeling I got when I was given clearance to head out into public again.  After months of isolation due to infection concerns, being somewhere other than the hospital or my house was complete euphoria, regardless of the mask.  I smiled at the girl and waved to her family.  Though most of her face was obstructed by the mask, I could tell that she was smiling.  That smile will undoubtedly stay with me for the rest of my life.  To that amazing cancer fighter, keep kicking ass!

THANK YOU to everyone who supported me through this amazing journey and helped me celebrate 

With your help, I ran the Boston Marathon and 
we raised over $20,000 to fight cancer!!!

We’re Famous!


***Don’t forget to “LIKE” the video on Facebook and show your support for this amazing cause***

Let the (Running) Taper Begin!

Though it’s hard to believe, it is time to taper the runs!  No, that doesn’t mean two weeks of sitting around eating bon-bons – I’m still running and actually not eating any bon-bons.  I have switched over to a low fat diet to gear-up for race day.  As if it isn’t hard enough ignoring the several boxes of girl scout cookies that taunt me every time I visit the pantry (damn you, thin mints!), I also have to pass on the red wine and microbrews.  I know what you’re thinking, wouldn’t that be great carbo-loading?  That’s what I said too!  But apparently, the goal is to super hydrate these next two weeks and alcohol isn’t necessarily known for doing that (exhibit A: your first hang-over).

This past week proved to be a little challenging in terms of getting runs in.  Between organizing this weekend’s fundraising event (see below for more info) and getting filmed for the news (!), free time has been non-existant.  With that being said, I was able to squeeze in a good 15.5 mile run yesterday.  Since I had not run the end of the course yet, I decided to run from the house to the Prudential building (where the course ends). I then ran to Boston College and reversed the entire run.  As it was a gorgeous day, at least in the morning, and still two weeks before the marathon, there were a fair amount of fellow Boston Marathon runners out there.  This was the first time I ventured out on a long-run by myself, so I was not sure what to expect.  Even though I ran out of water, it turned out to be a great run and good learning experience – hydration is key!  On the run I bumped into an old friend from Buffalo and received a high-five from a very enthusiastic homeless gentleman.  Despite my loathing of the Red Sox, I’m really starting to enjoy Boston.  Provided everything goes as planned, this week’s training includes a 3-4 mile, 5-7 mile, 7-8 mile, and 10-12 mile run.

While the running is tapering-off, the fundraising is doing the exact opposite!  Over the past two and half weeks, an astounding $3,030 has been donated by friends and family.  Thanks to 25+ generous cancer fighting parties, over $13,500 has been raised!  A HUGE THANK YOU to the Buckinghams, Nanci Haggerty, the Mudricks, Rabbi Mason, The Callans, Andy Forney, Kristie DeFalco, Nancy Korte, the Chambers, the Krumms, the Lonettos, Phyllis Maguire, Victoria Que, Michelle Lewis, Mich & Igor, the Ranzenhofers, the Aikens, Megan & J, Nicole Stockey, R&C, Dougan and of course, the amazing Patrons of the Chatterbox Drive-In!  I would just like to point out that to date, the patrons of the Chatterbox Drive-In have contributed over $2,700 to fight cancer!  Amazing!  

Although $1,500 still need to be raised to reach my $15,000 goal, we are not worried because we have a plan!  Starting on Monday or Tuesday, some amazing prizes can be won!  Similar to a chinese auction or ‘tricky tray’ as Donald calls it, we will have an opportunity drawing for each of the prizes.  The winner for each prize will be selected on April 9th, my official 15 year bone marrow transplant anniversary and cancer-free date.  That evening, Donald and I will be hosting a fundraising event at our house with food, drinks, and great music.  If you can’t join us, I will be posting instructions on how you can get in on the prize winning.  We’re talking vacations, hand-made jewelry, original artwork, and more!  More information to follow.

I can’t wait to see this sign on
Marathon Monday.

Photo Shoot!

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend my lunch break outside, running down Riverway and soaking up some sunshine!  With only 17 days left until Marathon Monday, we have pulled out all the stops with our DFMC fundraising efforts and are trying to spread the word as much as possible.  One of the most successful ways of doing this – the evening news!  So Dana-Farber’s communications department sent me out with a videographer to capture some training.  Needless to say, I probably didn’t run more than a half-mile, but it was nice to get the legs moving – especially for such a good reason.  Once DFCI gets a chance to film the miracle baby (Gus) and a short interview, they will try to convince news stations to air the DFMC video.  The hope – to publicize the DFMC mission and recruit more cancer fighters!  Here are some shots from the filming…

Showing off my team jacket!