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Runner dedicates Broad Street 10-miler to local cancer fighter

Editor's Note: In 2013, we spoke with Dr. Christine Meyer, founder and president of the Team CMMD Foundation, before her first Broad Street Run. This year, Meyer sent us an update on her and her team's training below:

I have never been one for New Year's Eve celebrating.  In fact, on December 31, 2012 I had no intentions of getting out of my pajamas much less dressing up to "party."

2012 had been a rotten year. My aunt and mentor, along with several of my dearest patients had been diagnosed with cancer.  At that moment that last day of 2012, I sat in front of my computer aimlessly stalking Facebook.  I was sad, angry, and hopeless.  In a fateful moment during that mindless perusing, I stumbled upon a link for early registrants for the Broad Street Run.  All that was required was participation with a charity and the American Cancer Society logo jumped out at me. It was a click that changed my life and my community for good.

That day, I recruited three friends. Our initial team of four Broad Street runners quickly became 47. We had hoped to raise $5,000 for the 2013 Broad Street Run. Instead, we raised $67,000 in that first year.

Last year, we grew to 154 runners and we raised over $174,000. Team CMMD became an official 501 c(3) charity charged with raising money to support local cancer families.

Over the past two years, as our team has grown, I felt emboldened in my resolve and strengthened by my teammates and their stories. I ran longer and faster than I ever have. I logged thousands of miles and pinned scores of ribbons to my race shirts, all the while feeling for once like I was actually doing something; like I was actually making a difference. Which brings me to now… Team CMMD's third year.

This winter, while my team was busy running in subzero temperatures — freezing everything from their butts to their eyelashes off — I seemed to completely lose my running mojo.

I started this running team to fight cancer. But lately, cancer has been particularly ruthless. Not only are many on our team cancer warriors, two have been blindsided and find themselves caught in the fight for their lives.  It used to be that the anger and injustice at it all got me moving. I would run long, hard, and fast for those who couldn't. But this last one…this one stopped me in my tracks.

My patient and friend Karen has been battling liposarcoma for six years. She has endured the unimaginable: chemo—not once but multiple times — radiation, surgery and ultimately an amputation. And you know what? Karen's cancer is back… again.

Karen has just begun another round of chemotherapy as part of a clinical trial. The best she can hope for is for her disease to be held at bay for some more time. She is 41. She SHOULD be allowed more time. A lot of it. Instead, Karen, her husband of almost 20 years, and her two young daughters will try to make the most of every second.

Cancer is winning too often. We NEED better drugs and advancements in things like gene and immunotherapy. While my team's dedication runs and ten's of thousands of dollars in financial gifts to local families are moving, inspiring, and necessary, they won't lead to a cure. We NEED money for research. We NEED money for a cure.

I talked with Karen's husband not too long ago.  He said many things that brought me to tears. But perhaps the most painful to hear was that they both knew one thing to be true:  for all the advancements, research, and funding work being done…none of it mattered for them. For Karen and too many others, those efforts are too little too late.

So far this year, Team CMMD has raised $251,049.14 for the American Cancer Society.  We have even added a cycling arm that trains for the Philly Bike-A-Thon, which has raised nearly $10,000. This brings our total raised over the last three Broad Street seasons to over $500,000

Last year, I pinned 37 ribbons to the back of my race shirt honoring warriors, survivors and fallen victims.

This year, I will dedicate my ten-mile run to just one: Karen Baker.  Her road has been long and hard. She deserves more time. I might not be able to give her that but on May 3, I will give her ten miles of sweat, pain and tears.

Wait. What's that over there?

Yes, there it is ….my mojo. For Karen.

Christine Meyer, MD is an internist and owner of CMMD and Associates, in Exton, PA.

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