When Sarah laces up her shoes and slips on her St. Jude Heroes bib for the Boston Marathon, it will be a sort of celebration. “I was getting ready to start training for the next St. Jude Memphis Marathon® when I was diagnosed with cancer on March 8, 2017.”
The diagnosis was a devastating blow, of course, yet it served to refocus her perspective. Her anxiety was eased knowing that breast cancer is so well researched and that so much is known about how to treat it.
The kind I had, there’s a cure and a treatment that is known and works, so I was like, ‘18 months of my life is going to suck, but we’re going to get through it and move on. But here, some of these kids have rare diseases and we don’t know what’s going to work, what’s not going to work. It’s great that St. Jude allows doctors to come here and research and find cures and not spend their time writing grants. Their sole focus is to find that cure and not finding money to find that cure.
It’s been an uphill battle, but Sarah, 34, says the Boston Marathon is her dream to run. And though the thought of fundraising can be daunting, Sarah said, “I don’t want to put off doing things that I really want to do for the right time or the perfect time, so I’m just going to go for it.”
“Going for it” meant running only a mile at a time last summer when that was all she could do. After her last round of chemotherapy in August and surgery in September, she did strength work when her lungs would burn from the medicine. By mid-October, she started building back up. “It’s a slow road, but it’s a forward progress. I just had to have hope that there are better days ahead of me and that just kept me moving.”
While touring St. Jude in January 2018, she found inspiration at every turn, stopping to talk with a young patient and comparing their respective medicine ports. “We have to stick together,” she told him.
And then there was Chandler, a teenage patient who finished the half marathon at last year’s St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend, and said he got through it because he’s been through much tougher days.
“I started crying because I remember lying on my couch last summer begging for the day I could run again, begging for that hurt of running and the pain and the tiredness of running,” she said. “So when I run, it’s what I’ve been dreaming about — to put one foot in front of the other and do what I love to do again.”
As she counts off the miles in Boston, she’ll do so to instill hope in the families going through what her family went through last year, and that they may have the same outcome. “My mission is to raise money for the research so we can find cures so that those families can have that same news delivered to them."