Boston Marathon 2013, here I come!

Despite the craziness of having newborn twins and a very active 3 year old, Donny has agreed to support me as I tackle training for the Boston Marathon and more importantly, fighting cancer, for the third consecutive year.

My Marathon History
On April 18, 2011, I ran my first marathon and successfully finished with a time of 4:58:00.  Even though only 6 months prior I couldn’t run a mile, I wanted to do something noteworthy to celebrate the 15th anniversary of my bone marrow transplant.  What’s more impressive and significantly more important to me was that my friends, my family, and even complete strangers helped me raise over $22,600 for cancer research. 

Last year, I set a goal of finishing in under 4:30:00 and hoped to raised $16,000; that was, until I learned I was pregnant with twins.  I’m not going lie, it was a little disappointing to have a great 14.5 mile run on one Saturday and then learn that the marathon was not a possibility only 4 days later with the flick of an ultrasound wand.  I continued fundraising and was thrilled to have two more babies on the way (babies that we never thought were possible due to my cancer treatment); still, I missed not running on race day.  That’s why I was upset at the idea of not running this year; however, who in their right mind decides to train and fund-raise for months with newborn twins and a 3 year-old?  I played out the countless hours of training and fundraising in my head and didn’t see how there was time for my already plentiful commitments (i.e. taking care of all of the kiddos, coordinating cancer trials at Dana-Farber full-time, the usual long list of house to-dos, sleeping, etc).  

Then I remembered WHY I run and I realized that I had no choice.  

Why do I run?  Well, the list is long and continues to grow so for now I’ll keep it simple.  This year I am coming out of a 10-month running-retirement because…

1. Cancer tried to kill me.  And almost 17 years later, I’m still battling the side effects. 
  


2. Cancer also tried to kill my patient partner, Nicole.  She was diagnosed with the worst kind of Hodgkin’s Disease, stage 4B.  After some brutal treatment, she’s regaining her ability to move her legs again and hopes to tackle the last mile with me on race day! 



3. Lung cancer ultimately took the life of my amazing grandmother this past Saturday and I know, without hesitation, that she wants me running.

4. No child should have to fight cancer.

5. Cancer has tried to kill so many other amazing individuals…

6. …and sometimes, sadly, the cancer prevails. 


7. If 1 in 3 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, I’d like to do everything in my power to prevent all 3 of my children from experiencing cancer.

8. After years of working with cancer, it has become so apparent that most cancer treatments are antiquated. The side effects of chemo, radiation, and other cancer treatments are endless and can destroy a survivor’s quality of life.  

8. Huge advances in cancer treatment are being made through this program. Obviously, I have the opportunity to raise money for any one of a hundred different cancer organizations but I choose this one.  It’s NOT because I’m a runner and want to run a marathon (I’m a little nervous about my current ‘couch to 26.2 miles in 4 months’ program); I choose the DFMC program because this organization is making a difference in the fight- I see it first-hand, every single day. 

 

9. I hate cancer.

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30 Days of Thankful – Day 30

Day 30 – For Eleanor and Adelaide, our little miracle twins

After I went into labor only minutes after hitting the 27th week of pregnancy, Donny and I raced to the hospital.  Things progressed rapidly and after ‘talking’ to the doctors for only 20 short minutes, I was raced down the hall for an emergency c-section.  The physicians had just confirmed that the girls were still breech and Adelaide’s sac had ruptured; it was nothing short of scary.  In the operating room, the doctors tried to give me an epidural.  However, after only two additional contractions, my pessary had been shot out (used to possibly prevent premature labor – ha!) and worse, Eleanor’s foot had popped out.  The plan immediately switched; I received propephol and was intubated.  “Come on, Hilary.  Just take some deep breaths.”  I woke up twenty minutes later.  I had just given birth to two breech 2lb 4oz twin girls.  What just happened!!!  Everything progressed so quickly that Donny wasn’t even present; he was still waiting outside the operating room door for the ok to come in.  I’m told I saw the girls before they were whisked away to the NICU,  but I definitely have no recollection of this happening.  Donny definitely remembers saying hi to them though and snapped a few quick pictures while I rested.

It was a tough first couple of weeks, as Donny and I adjusted to the roller coaster of the NICU.  We were told we would get used to the girls’ “spells,” which is when they ‘forgot to breathe’ and needed a reminder.  I can assure you that watching your daughters stop breathing, and hear the monitors beep, and watch their heart rate tank is a terrifying experience, and no, you never fully get used to it.  Fortunately, the girls are fighters and BWH is awsome, so after two months, Adelaide and Eleanor graduated to the intermediate NICU.  One month later we were celebrating their arrival home and their due date.  

Although it is hard to believe, three more months have passed and our little peanuts are much, MUCH larger; 4.5 times larger to be exact.  While they seemed so incredibly helpless when we first met them, they don’t hesitate to speak up now.  It’s possible we’re giving them too much credit but it certainly seems like they are developing very spirited personalities.  



It really is difficult to adequately express how grateful I am to have these two healthy and happy babies in our home.  We feel so blessed. 

30 Days of Thankful – Day 26

Day 26: For Penn State

Penn State isn’t a place you can hear about in the news or on ESPN and understand.

To understand Penn State you need to be in the Bryce Jordan Center as the grand total is revealed at THON after family hour;

you need to hear the story of how “We Are… Penn State” came to be our unifying cheer in a defiant move to play in the 1946 Cotton Bowl with all of our players, regardless of skin color;

you needed to be in the stadium as paralyzed football player, Adam Taliaferro, lead the team onto the field in 2001.

 
 

Penn State is a place of hope for many and continues to try to initiate change through action. Both students and alumni were shocked as the terrible news broke over a year ago;  but, it wasn’t long before thousands attended a vigil held at the iconic Old Main and over $500,000 was raised for RAINN (Race, Abuse & Insest Nation Network).

 

Many say that we’re ‘just a football program’ but that wildly underestimates my university.  We have a football team. Yes. But they’re much more than football players.  They consistently have the highest average GPAs of all other football teams while taking real classes.  If they don’t become professional football players, which most don’t, they go on to be lawyers, teachers, engineers, etc and make a difference in society.  For example, our buddy Scott Shirley, a former PSU football player, founded and now runs the largest student athlete philanthropy in the world.  Uplifting Athletes includes some of the top NCAA schools in the country to raise critical funds for rare diseases (see previous post on Team Jack and Avalanna to get an idea of who this organization is trying to help).

My family is a proud Penn State family because we know Penn State or rather, We ARE Penn State.

30 Days of Thankful – Day 27-29

Day 27: For Zutano
Zutano is the best baby clothing company, hands-down.  Not only is their stuff wicked cute but it lasts forever!  Gus spent the first 6 months of his life in the same 4 Zutano hats and they still look great on the girls, which is saying a lot since Gus spit up on them constantly.  When life is crazy as a new parent, and it definitely is with twins, it’s so nice to have a few trusty outfits that you can count on.  It’s especially nice since Zutano is a small Vermont company and you know how much we love supporting small companies, especially from Vermont.  Thanks, Zutano!

After wearing their brother’s pj’s for the past 5.5 months, the girls were rewarded with their own “girlie” hats.

Day 28:For my amazing patient partner, Nicole
In the coming months, I will be posting much more of this amazing woman’s story but I wanted to recognize her awesomeness and how thankful I am for having her in my life.  Basically, she was chugging along with college life when she heard those three awful words that are a reoccurring theme on this blog, “you have cancer.”  Specifically, Nicole was diagnosed with stage 4B Hodgkin Lymphoma, the worst kind of HD out there.  I met Nicole through the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge program and we quickly hit it off.  Over the past year, she continues to blow me away with her maturity and composure.  For example, she doesn’t think much of the fact that she was still getting radiation, continuing to pursue her college degree, and helping bring her little sister in for dialysis. Oh yeah… and she has a great personality.  In summary, she’s my inspiration! Keep an eye peeled for her whole story, coming soon!  



Day 29: For Preschool Dance Recitals”

 

30 Days of Thankful – Day 19 through 25

On day one of ’30 Days of Thankful’ I hinted at one of the things I am most thankful for this year… or rather, two.  Our amazing new additions to the family, Eleanor and Adelaide, are without question two of the most important people in my life.  There is a post about them forthcoming but I felt that it was important to mention them now since, despite my unmeasurable love for them, they continue to find a way to use the majority of my day (and night); thus, the delayed posts.  Sorry!

Day 19: For amazing little kids who are my heroes

Just the other day Donny asked me who my heroes were.  I’m not one for heroes; however, I believe that you can learn a lot from other people. As we were having this conversation, I realized that the only real heroes I have are kids.  I understand that some may argue that kids are less jaded and that’s why they’re so optomistic and cheerful but that doesn’t always hold true, especially in my job.  I see kids every single day that have cancer; some who have been enduring brutal treatments for years.  So many of these kiddos manage to have huge smiles on their face, despite this terrible situation they’re in. They still time find to really, truly appreciate fresh air and to just be down-right silly.  So, to answer Donny’s question, here are some of my heroes for which I am so grateful…

Avalanna

Talia

Jack

Day 20: For microbrews!
What can I say about microbrews; they’re just better.  

Day 21: For dance parties in my kitchen!
I have yet to find a day bad enough that an impromptu dance party couldn’t improve my mood. A few years back I was first introduced to Kris Carr’s documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer (go watch it, if you haven’t already).  In the film, Kris commits to one dance a day while she fights liver cancer. 

From then on, I’ve attempted to dance to one song a day, even if it is in the car (it makes sitting at red lights way more fun)Two years ago, Donny bought the whole “one dance a day thing” and decided on a “family dance song.”  Every time we hear the Killers song, Human, everyone in our family has to dance – Kiley included. There’s no arguing because it’s mandatory. 

Don’t believe that dancing can make you feel better?  Try it for a month!

  

Day 22: For passing down Thanksgiving traditions to my kiddos
This year is proving to be difficult to do a lot of things and Thanksgiving wasn’t exactly traditional; our oven wasn’t working so Thanksgiving dinner came from Legal Seafood, there was no running the Turkey trot, and we didn’t go to visit my brother in NYC for the parade.  

With that being said, we had a great Thanksgiving and I was still able to share so many great traditions with Gussy.  We watched the parade and I realized that the parade, which I used to think was on early, started 4 hours after Gus woke up. We watched part of the dog show and cheered for the beagles. We read some Christmas books and talked about how we’re decorating the Christmas tree.  




Day 23: For celebrating birthdays of people I love (and getting cake)!
Happy Birthday to my amazing husband! I am so pumped that this is the ninth year we’ve celebrated togetherOf course, it was a great excuse to have cake and letting Gus pick out the cake meant that we had a big one!

Throw back! Celebrating in 2006.

Day 24: For Etsy!
Simply put: Etsy flippin rocks! If you don’t know about it, go now! Seriously. Buying from Etsy is a great way to support small businesses and artists around the country and world. They have everything from vintage watches to hand-made wooden iPhone docking stations to rat and dog tutus. 

seriously?

I am most excited about Etsy right now (no, not because of the tutus), because of my new necklace!

Photo from A Charmed Impression Etsy Page.

If you’re still looking for holiday gifts for anyone, go check it out asap!

Day 25: For comfy clothes
If you work with me, you know that pencil skirts are my go-to in the office; however, at home, it‘s all sweatpants and leggings with super soft tees and tanks. I have two favorite pairs of sweats that have been my home uniform for way too long. Unfortunately, I recently had to retire my Cornell sweatsA couple months back our good friend came over and asked if a sharked attacked me. Once I realized what he was talking about, it occurred to me that it might be time to say goodbye to them. In all fairness, I owned them since Cornell summer field hockey camp from (dare I say) 1998. Yikes! The other pair of sweats are still in great shape as I only bought them during my college years at Penn State (10 years old isn’t bad!).