I recently qualified for the 2013 Boston Marathon and am raising money for the Melanoma Foundation of New England for this race.
I like to think training saved my life. In 2008, I was preparing for a 50-mile running race. I had a small mole that was rubbing on my running shorts. It was more of annoyance than anything. Although this mole was not exposed to the sun, I was sun baked often and outside frequently whether at the beach or running on the trails. Well, you can probably guess where this is going…it was melanoma. After I completed the race that weekend, I went in for surgery. And then several others. And then several treatments.
At the end of September 2008, while still under-going treatment, I ran my first race. It was an easy half marathon. It felt great to be amongst the other runners and spectators taking part in something I truly love to do. Fall came. The most exciting time of year for those who love the spirit of the race. I had signed up the prior year for four marathons in October and November. Surely, I could do one. Even if I had the toxic drugs in my system, one race was doable. Tough it out, prove to everyone, myself included that I can do it. I ran the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October. I had a fever going into the race. It was hot and I cramped hard late in the race. But I finished. I was back doing something that I loved…Well, against the advice of my doctors, I went ahead and ran the other three marathons in the next four weeks. Completing four marathons in 35 days was tough. But it made me believe we can beat this disease.
That brings me to 2012. I lost a dear friend to Melanoma. Casey McDonald died in May of the same disease that I once had. His family, friends and me did everything we could to extend Casey’s life but in the end, it just couldn’t be done. At just 35 years old, Casey was one of the most fun, genuine, charismatic young men you would ever come in contact with. He had a way of making you feel like you were important and his friend right from the start. A person that everyone wanted to be friends with. I was blessed that Casey called me his friend. It was really all my privilege. He touched so many people and still lives inside us each day. Casey fought Melanoma with dignity to the bitter end. I have had a hard time accepting Casey’s death and have tried to understand it the best I can. Since 2006, I have run about 40 marathons, ultramarathons and Ironman events. I made it a goal of mine to qualify for Boston in 2012 and participate in Melanoma related charities. April 15th, the date of the Boston Marathon is my fifth anniversary of being free of Melanoma. It will be my honor to dedicate this race to Casey and raise money for the Melanoma Foundation of New England. Please help me celebrate by giving generously. Thank you.