On October 1, 2000 I'll be running the Portland Marathon to raise money for SHERRY'S FUND - a breast cancer support fund for residents of my hometown Astoria, Oregon and surrounding areas. This fund is dedicated to my mother Sherry Bojanowski, who died of breast cancer in 1985 at the age of 38.
Four years ago I ran my first marathon in Portland, Oregon. Finishing a 26.2-mile race is both one of the best and worst feelings - simultaneously the most profound sense of accomplishment and physical exhaustion I've ever felt. When it was all over (after they released me from the medic station and I regained the ability to walk down stairs), I vowed to run at least one more marathon. Next time it would be with the goal of raising money for an important cause.
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area now, but also have lasting ties to the town in which I was raised and where my mother spent her last several years. Astoria's population is perennially 10,000, and it is an hour and a half from the nearest metropolitan area. While there are many benefits to raising a family in a small town, when breast cancer occurs, families are faced with the significant challenge of lack of access to support services readily available in larger cities. For my family, this meant being separated from my mom for weeks at a time when she had to travel to Seattle for her treatments. There were no support groups, and resources for family counseling were scarce.
Through Sherry's Fund, any Clatsop County resident with breast cancer (or their family members) can request financial support for almost anything not covered by medical insurance. This includes things like transportation and lodging costs for individuals who must travel to receive treatment, and their family members; funds for family or individual counseling to help cope with breast cancer; hospice and bereavement services; nutritional and cosmetic needs; as well as other needs.
Help me to help others facing breast cancer. Sponsor me on my run in the spirit of raising awareness about this disease that strikes one in eight women. Together let's increase access and decrease barriers to health care. If you know someone with breast cancer, donate in honor of that person. If you don't know how much to give, my friend Tex let me in on a simple, scientifically-proven formula that may help… Figure out realistically how much you can give before it will hurt - then double it. And since I'll be training extra hard to try to achieve my goal of qualifying for the 2001 Boston Marathon, feel free to kick in a little extra. No pain, no gain, as they say. Then between now and race day, think of me on Saturday mornings when I'm out doing my longest training runs. Send thoughts of speed, endurance, pity - anything you think may help!
There is more to say about who my mother was and what she meant to me than I have room to tell here. So I'll give you my favorite memory... When I was fourteen, she once waited in the car for an entire baseball game so that from my seat at the top of the bleachers I could watch a boy I had a huge crush on play ball. She didn't mind that I was too shy to actually talk to him and offered the gesture in spite of the nausea and discomfort she must have been feeling from her recent chemotherapy. Although I lost her later that year, this memory reminds me of her capacity to make me feel loved and accepted - she was in every way my best friend. This effort honors my mother and others affected by breast cancer, especially for what they mean to those who love them.