Meet Maria…

9 10 2010

Today’s Team in Training run is dedicated to Maria and her Mom.

It’s not easy writing about how Leukemia/Lymphoma affects your life. I asked Maria to share her story with me a while back and at first she was very willing. I know all too well that at first we think we’re ready to talk about our loved one’s and watching any kind of sickness take over their bodies. Then the truth hits us: We’re far from ready and often don’t realize how much we’re still affected by the experience (even 10 and 20 years later).

I commend Maria for finding the strength to share her story with me.

With us.

On November 11, 1999, my mother lost her battle with Leukemia.  She was only 57 years old.  I remember things from that day as if it only happened yesterday…

– I watched my mother take her last breathe.
– As I comforted my son, he mumbled, “I only had 7 years with her.”
– The pain was nothing that I had felt before.  It was overwhelming.
– My throat hurt from smoking more cigarettes than I had ever smoked in one day.

For weeks, months and years, I grieved.  I questioned.  I got pissed.  And finally, I accepted.

Today, I honor my mother by living a life that is full of passion, of fear, fear that drive me and by being a kind person.  I am an extension of my mother’s life.  I am her legacy, so I chose to live a good one.

I quit smoking a year after she died, started running, created businesses based on my passion and driven by my fear….  so far, so good.


This is week number eleven. Eight more weeks to go before I step up to that starting line and put the physical portion of this journey we share together to pavement. Thank you for all that you’ve done for me. I can’t wait to give that back to you!

Tara’s Team in Training Page





Meet Natalie and Olivia

11 09 2010

Today’s run is dedicated to Natalie and her niece Olivia!

Olivia was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was 2 years old. It was a scary time for all of us, but most especially for my brother and my sister-in-law. Olivia is their youngest child. As a baby she was a very vivacious happy baby and the spitting image of her sister Anna. Then she started getting sick. She was taken to the doctor and after a battery of tests they diagnosed her with Leukemia.

After that followed a long course of treatment. Even at her young age, she took it like a trooper. My brother once described her as stoic when she went for her treatments. she didn’t fuss or cry, even with all the needle sticks she was subjected to. She has developed some food intolerance as a result of her treatments as well as some cravings. She is not a big sweet eater, but she does like salty things.

Last year after much coaxing from friends, my brother sent in a request for Olivia to the Make-a-Wish foundation. Olivia’s wish was to meet the Princesses. So Make-a-Wish sent the entire family to Disney where Olivia got to have lunch with the Disney princesses. She was in her glory. She even had a tiara and wand.

Olivia is currently doing well and is as about as normal as any other ten-year old.

This run will be week number 7 out of 19. Only 12 more weeks to go!!!! If you  or someone you know has been afflicted by Leukemia/Lymphoma I would be honored to share your story and dedicate a Saturday run to you. Please leave a comment on this post and let’s plan a dedication!

Tara’s Team In Training Page

$1586 / $1800 raised!

Ashley’s Story…

14 08 2010

I’ve never met Ashley face to face but we share two things in common: We’re fighting to regain control of our lives by making healthier choices and we’ve both lost our moms. I chose Ashley to be my first story and to be the first dedicated run because she has so much love for the people around her including myself with all her words of support and encouragement. I imagine that if we ever did meet face to face, she’s light up the room with that beautiful smile.

I run today for Ashley, and her mom.

Thank you for sharing your story.


Hi, Tara– I had forgotten that I wrote a blog entry about my mom on Mother’s Day.  I think it’s a pretty good story about my mom.  I think about those who run, walk, bike, swim for people like her.  I complain ALL the time about running out in the heat.  Mom endured countless procedures, including bone marrow biopsies (the equivalent of getting a pencil lead shoved in your back), numerous hospital stays, and a lifetime of chemotherapy (her withdrawal off of one made her develop sores on her ankles like you see on diabetics.  She had to have part of her tendons removed).

Anyway, thanks for letting me  ramble on and on about my mom.  I just miss her so much and the wounds are still fresh, sometimes.  This opportunity has been therapeutic, and I forget that I need to remember the pain and joy of her life.  Here’s the blog:

Getting my ears pierced at age nine is still a vivid memory for me. I can still remember the layout of the jewelry store in the mall, the tall chair I sat on, and the sound of the piercing gun right next to my ear. Perhaps the most poignant of memories was knowing that I wasn’t yet a teenager, but there I sat at age nine, getting my ears pierced, a rite of passage specifically reserved for a thirteen year old.

A few years before her passing, mom told me that when she was diagnosed with leukemia, she wanted to experience all of the milestones in my adolescent journey, and getting my ears pierced was one of those steps along the way. I was in third grade, just nine years old, when she was given six months to three years to live. It was then that mom decided that her rule of “only teenagers should have their ears pierced” was meant to be broken.

A funny thing happened along the way, though. She beat the odds… big time. It wasn’t until 22 years later that she succumbed to her disease.

She witnessed things that she was pretty much guaranteed to miss in her children’s lives… summer vacations at the beach, first dates (well, at least for my brother), high school graduations, college graduations, weddings, and the birth of her first grandchild.

Of course, her survival could merely be her placement along the bell curve. But, I also think her zeal and desire for just one more moment gave her the impetus to hang on through some serious complications of leukemia for just one more minute, hour, day, week, year.

Of course I miss my mom. She had a gift of making everyone laugh. We argued A LOT, but nothing more than what is expected from moms and daughters. Now that I have two children of my own, I want to try and keep her memory alive by truly living not just for those years or weeks, but for the days, hours, and seconds. None of us is guaranteed our next breath. Goodness knows, I don’t advocate carelessness. If you know me at all, I am nothing but cautious. But, I should try and take stock of things that matter… playing outside with my boys, when I’d much rather be inside reading a book… spending money at the zoo when I really need (okay “want”) a new pair of shoes.

I know that I will be successful as a mom if my kids love me only half as much as I loved my mom. And as much as I miss just picking up the phone and hearing her voice, I am so thankful for the time I had with her. I always think of the line, “better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.” I was very fortunate to have such a healthy parent-child relationship, and although our time together was cut short, it was full of wonderful, loving memories. What better legacy to leave your children?

Tara’s Team in Training Page

I need your help…

11 08 2010

Every Saturday until November I’ll be running with Team in Training as I prepare to cry scream scratch punch crawl walk run across the finish line of the Amica half marathon November 28th. I want to dedicate Saturday runs to people affected by Leukemia/Lymphoma.

This is where you get to help me.

I want you to tell me your story.

Tell me whatever your heart desires about how Leukemia / Lymphoma has impacted your life. Share the story of your loved one or friend. I’m going to be telling you about my grammy soon. She gets a Saturday because she  passed away of Leukemia in February of 2002. I’m going to share my grammy with you because you need to know why I’m running and why this is so important to me. I want to run for you too.

Share with me.

That’s a lot of Saturdays between now and November 28th. Fifteen to be exact. I’m starting this Saturday with a great story about my friend Ashley and her mom. She even sent me a picture. This Saturday will be for them.

I want you to have a Saturday too.

If you’re interested or know someone that may be interested, contact me directly at taraterpci (at) vzw (dot) blackberry (dot) net

Tara’s Team in Training Page