Posts Tagged ‘Boston Marathon’

I know I don’t really blog about my cancer experience anymore, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t think about it every day. Once you have had cancer, it will never not be part of your every day life. Today was a prime example.

I am starting a new job soon and decided it is time to bite the bullet and cut my hair. Nothing dramatic, just a trim to get rid of the dead-ends, but even that activates the butterflies in my stomach. You see, it has been nearly three years since my last haircut. And that really wasn’t by choice.

As most of you know because you’ve been following this blog for most of my journey (thank you!), in May 2012, when I heard after surgery that I would need chemo and would lose all my hair, I decided to have a little fun with it. First, I asked my friend Leane to give me a cute cut, just above my shoulders, so I could donate the hair to Locks of Love. That wasn’t too bad – it was really a cute cut and I knew the hair went to something good.


Then a couple of weeks later, right before I started chemo, I had her chop it really short. That was more difficult to swallow. I never wanted hair that short… But I knew that I couldn’t handle having long strands falling out.

lasthaircutjune 2012

And then came chemo. The morning I woke up to hair all over my pillow, I knew it was time. I went to a barber and asked him to shave it bald. He cut as close as possible, but then I had Nick shave it for me.

IMG_0860And that was my last hair cut. Through the bald months, I remember gazing longingly at my friend and sister breast cancer survivor Janie’s very long, beautiful hair on Facebook, and asking her how long before my hair would grow back. She reassured me it would be back before I knew it, but I didn’t really believe her – it seemed like forever…

It’s been two years since my hair started growing back. I was so proud of the little tufts – baby bird hair, as my friend Kim and her daughter Maddie called it.


As my hair has grown back, I have loved every minute of it. I am so thankful to have hair, I will never complain about it: A bad hair day is still better than a no hair day!


But I can’t let it just keep growing forever – for it to remain healthy, I knew it was time for a cut. I’ve been preparing myself for this, so thought it would be easy. Nope.

After finishing my last pre-marathon long run (yay! 9 days until I am Running for Rare Diseases in the Boston Marathon!), I took a quick shower and ran down the street to Sanela Salon. I sat down in the chair, looked at Jordan, my stylist, and started to explain to her that this was my first haircut in nearly three years and that it was all new hair. And my eyes started to fill. I promised her I wouldn’t cry through the whole cut! She smiled, said it was fine and we quickly agreed that an inch and some long layers were a good start.

IMG_0852As Jordan started to cut, I actually exhaled. I realized that just because someone cuts your hair, it doesn’t mean it’s all going to fall out. I didn’t even know that’s what I was scared of, it is so silly and unrealistic. But that was the chain of events before, so I guess it was just ingrained¬†in the back of my mind.

Now the first cut is done – and no more tears! I am so thankful to have hair and I love every strand! (And yes, Janie, you were right! ūüėČ )



p.s. I’d love it if you would add a song to my marathon playlist!¬†Just¬†go to my fundraising page, donate $5 per song, and put the song titles and artists in the comments section. I will add them to my marathon playlist and think of you when they come on while I’m running the marathon! Thank you! (Can’t wait to hear your song choices!)

If you’re going to be at the Boston Marathon, please let me know where you will be along the route so I can watch for you! ūüôā

Can’t make it but still want to track me? (I will start about 11:15 a.m. on Marathon Monday, April 20). All you need is my bib number (My bib # is 28153) and you can either text or email:

    • TEXT – Simply text my Bib Number (28153) to 234567 using your cell phone. You will then receive an sms text response confirmation. You will receive up to 6 texts per bib number. Message & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel. Text HELP for help.
    • EMAIL – Go to¬†http://www.baa.org/‚Ķ/participant-inf‚Ķ/att-athlete-alert.aspxSign-up using your mobile phone number for SMS text message updates, or by entering an email address for email updates.

Thank you for your support!!!

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Well, by now you all know that aliens have invaded my body and are making me run the Boston Marathon. ūüôā Ok, ok, I signed up for this myself – I just couldn’t resist being an official member of the Running for Rare Diseases Marathon Team! The team has had my heart and soul for years, and now it has my (aching, out of shape) body, too! What it also now has is me writing more blogs on http://running4rare.org than here (Like the blog about my Snow Run). So I am hoping you will all go to the site and sign up for the e-mail alerts so you can read posts from me and other runners, as well as posts from our patient partners, as we all make our way through this marathon training season. It would also be great if you could…

And of course, if you’d like to donate, that would be much appreciated, too! All funds donated to my fundraising page go directly to the¬†Genzyme/NORD NIH Undiagnosed Diseases Program (UDP).

Hey Рwant  a chance to WIN something for your donation??? Enter my raffle to win dinner for 10 ($1,500-2,000 value) catered to your specifications! Here are all the details:

Dinner for 10 Raffle to benefit the NORD/Genzyme NIH Undiagnosed Fund

¬®¬†Catered dinner for 10 people at your home! (Must be within 20 miles of Boston – if you don’t live within 20 miles of the city and you win, you can have it at my place – seriously! So don’t let this stop you from entering!)

¨ Menu & date to be agreed with Chef Paul Spillane of Ne Me Quitte Pas Catering

¬®¬†Value $1,500 ‚Äď $2,000: all food, glassware, dinnerware, silverware, servingware, linens, etc., included, except alcohol

¨ Custom menu cards for each place setting as well bar cards, miniature boxes, etc.

¨ Dinner must be booked within one year of winning the raffle

‚ÄúIn the last few years we’ve become known for our five- to seven-course small-plate chef’s tastings as well as our miniature passed hors d’oeuvres… fully personalized mini-boxes fit in the palm of your hand. They include everything from French fry boxes, to lobster roll boxes, to take-out boxes and burger boxes and more.¬†Since we design, print, cut and mold all the boxes ourselves they can be entirely personalized to the client and the evening.‚Ä̬† – Chef Paul Spillane, Ne Me Quitte Pas Catering

1 Ticket for $10; 3 Tickets for $20; 10 Tickets for $50

Winner to be Drawn and Notified: March 28, 2015 (After we run the Charity Run Рour longest training run!) 

¬†You can buy your ticket easily by going to my fundraising page, donating the amount for the number of entries you want, and putting “Dinner Raffle” in the comments. I will then notify you with your ticket numbers – if you don’t think I have your contact information, please email it to me at altatwood@gmail.com. Otherwise I won’t be able to contact you if you win! Good luck! ūüôā ¬†And please pass this along to any friends who may want to enter and support us at the same time! Thank you!

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My heart is broken for so many people. Those who were killed, those who were injured, and all who know and love them. And – albeit¬†on a¬†different level –¬†for those who, like my cousin Tara, and several of my friends on our Marathon Team, were about to complete their first marathon when all hell broke loose.

Many people will have their stories of where they were when it happened, and this is mine. It was one of the scariest times of my life, and I know I’m still in shock because I haven’t really broken down yet…

I was there, in the heart of it. In fact, had Gail, the friend I was with, not had to go to the bathroom, we¬†may not be¬†here right now. You see, we were rushing from Mile 14 to the finish line, where we had VIP passes, including to the grandstand. I drove, with Gail, Derek from NORD, and David and Doug, our photographers, and the closest parking I could think of was at the Prudential Center. ¬†There was a bit of a back-up getting in, and we wanted to capture as many images as possible of our Marathon Team runners crossing the finish line, so I let David, Doug and Derek out of the car just before entering the garage; Gail said she’d stay and keep me company – thank goodness she did.

We found a parking spot pretty quick and were hurrying to get out onto Boylston St. so we could get over to the VIP area and see the rest of our runners finish – a few were getting close according to the text messages. But as we headed out of the Pru, Gail asked if we could take a detour and go to the ladies room first. So back we went and stood in line, waiting, got through it, and then were back on our way out to the street.

All of the sudden, we heard the boom, and knew instantly something bad happened. And then, as people all looked at each other and then started toward the windows to see what it could be,¬†smoke appeared out the window. And then, everyone in front of us – seemingly hundreds of people – all turned toward us and started running and screaming “Run, run, run” – so we turned and ran for our lives. We locked arms to try to run together, scared that we’d be separated. All I could think of while I ran was that it must be gunmen; that someone first set a bomb, were¬†armed, too, and they were coming into the Pru. So we ran as fast as we could, along with everyone else, cutting through the food court, pushing chairs and tables out of the way,¬†¬†anything to get out the side doors and away from danger.

Only outside we went, and saw the smoke. And the screaming. And the police were not far behind, pushing us away from the finish line, and the stands, and then ambulances were in front of us, and runners were next to us. They were as confused as us and we were all trying to piece it all together… then we were being told we needed to completely evacuate the area, and we had to go toward Mass Ave. One cop looked at us and said, “I’m sorry, but we don’t know how many more are in this area, so we have to get you all out so you can be safe.” So we went.

And along the way we tried both to update our loved ones, as well as to check on our runners and friends in the stands. From where the ambulances¬†were, and the smoke, it appeared that it was all on the actual course, so we were most concerned about the runners. I tried a few times to call my son, my parents, and our photographers, but couldn’t get a line out. Texts weren’t being reliable either – kept getting held up. Luckily, my blackberry e-mail was working. I immediately went into crisis mode, updating our senior leadership team, partnering with Lisa in Corp Comm to make sure all of our runners and onlookers at the finish line were safe. It took many emails, texts and phone calls from various people over a couple of hours – all the while being constantly pushed further away from the scene, and praying my iphone, portable charger¬†and blackberry would hold their charges –¬†but we were able to confirm all were ok. I was even able to stand on top of one of the cement pillars at the Mass Ave. underpass and actually see Phil, Andrew and Shane, which filled me with a bit of relief.

Once we knew all were safe, and learned our photographers were just about back to Allston, we decided to head to my apartment where my cousin and her family and friends were, and Gail could be picked up from there. Nearly the entire way, past Kenmore Square, by BU, there were police swarming the streets, and sirens constantly going. We stopped quickly at Sunset to hug Nick (he was working), and then walked the rest of the way home and collapsed.

It’s all just surreal. It was like a movie, not like it really happened. The evening has gone by in a blur. Once things started going through there were so many texts and voicemails¬†– and I haven’t even seen facebook¬†yet. In the middle of it all, when I knew the texting and calls weren’t working I did a mass post to my facebook, twitter and linked in accounts so all would know we were ok. I can’t even express how much I appreciated so many people checking on us…

Gail and I hugged many times as she left, both so thankful we had each other through it all. I can’t imagine going through all that alone.

After a quick bite to eat, I was told the Pru¬†garage was open. So Tara and I took a drive down there and found out that is most certainly not true. The National Guard (Army guys) or police are blocking off all the surrounding streets. When we got to the corner by the Pru, we asked, and explained the garage people told us we could get it, they said absolutely not – they’re not even letting anyone¬†walk on those streets, let alone drive on them. Maybe tomorrow.

Or, I guess, now looking at the clock, later today. So that is my story. I know there are things I left out, my mind is a jumble, and my heart is so very heavy… but I am above all else thankful to still be here, for diverting our path at just the right time, and that all we know are safe. And so devastated for those who are not as lucky…


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