For An Oncologist and Cancer Patient, The Boston Marathon is Personal

Behind every marathon runner, there’s a story of personal inspiration – something that keeps the legs moving as the hours pass and the miles pile up. For many running in the Boston Marathon® as part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) team, that inspiration may be the memory of a loved one who battled cancer, the experience of working with cancer patients over years, or even the first-hand experience of a cancer diagnosis.

For Katie Janeway, MD, it’s all of those wrapped into one. Janeway is a pediatric oncologist with Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed and treated for acute myeloid leukemia in 2014.

“I really want to show myself and others out there who are struggling with cancer that recovery is possible. And I can’t think of better way to do that than training to run the Boston Marathon for Dana-Farber,” Janeway says.

Katie Janeway, MD.
Katie Janeway, MD.

Janeway is not just out to prove to herself that she’s able to tackle such a physical challenge four years post-diagnosis. She’s also determined to raise awareness of pediatric cancer and how cancer touches everyone in each patient’s life.

“Cancer is the number one disease killer of children — but it’s not just those kids who are affected,” she says. “When you think about all the survivors, the siblings, the parents, husbands, wives and partners, you realize that there are many, many people touched by cancer.”

Those people will be close in mind when she pushes off from the starting line, especially six people she knows who are living with cancer or have died from the disease, including her father who passed away in 2003, and Carter Mock, a patient of hers.

And she won’t be running alone. Her good friends Tara Beardsley and Sarah Waywell Timm will be step-by-step with her as she tackles the 26.2-mile marathon course; they trained together throughout the New England winter. “Tara and Sarah supported me and my family when I was sick and they’re supporting me now as we train,” Janeway says.

Janeway and her good friends Tara Beardsley and Sarah Waywell Timm have been training together throughout the winter.
Janeway and her good friends Tara Beardsley and Sarah Waywell Timm have been training together throughout the winter.

Tara is running with the Melorse Running club while Katie and Sarah will be joined by more than 500 DFMC teammates who are raising money for the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research at Dana-Farber, which funds the most innovative ideas to propel basic research discoveries that transform cancer treatment.

“It’s exactly that kind of research that allowed me to recover from leukemia,” Janeway says, “and it’s that kind of research that really gives the hope of cure to some of the patients I treat in the Jimmy Fund Clinic.”

And in the end, it’s that motivation that Janeway knows will be pushing her forward mile after mile on marathon day.

“As both a cancer survivor and a physician who takes care of children with cancer every day, the struggle of undergoing cancer treatment is very real to me,” she says. “When I’m out running, I think about what my patients are going through and it’s a real inspiration to me.”

Learn more about treatment for pediatric cancer from Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.