Outrunning Cancer: 27-Year-Old Survivor Completes First Marathon

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Lara Snead has always been a runner. A competitor since high school, Lara gradually quickened her pace and increased her stamina to the half-marathon distance.

Last June, at age 27, with a winning bib number from the lottery happily in hand, she set her sights on her first Marine Corps Marathon.

During her early training, her body sent her a signal. Chest pain and fatigue would be the first signs of a cancerous tumor growing around her sternum, and an enlarged lymph node near her collarbone confirmed it was Hodgkin lymphoma. Her first marathon would have to wait.

“It was completely shocking,” Lara said. “And I think it was the fear of the unknown that was the hardest on me.”

As a single woman living across the country from her family, facing this diagnosis alone was frightening. Almost immediately, her father flew in from Seattle and stayed to help her through that first month of treatment. Her doctors at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., told her to expect about six months of chemotherapy – an exhausting regimen of 12 hospital-based infusions every other week – which would gradually kill the cancerous cells.

“I didn’t know how my body would respond, but I tried to look on the bright side every day. I was thankful we had caught it early, and I convinced myself that I would be okay. The nurses at Sibley would smile and call me a rock star for the way I handled it.”

“I was so lucky to have family and friends to go to treatment with; they made it bearable. They gave me something to look forward to. The only thing I missed was exercise. I couldn’t run to relieve stress, at a time when I was at the peak of stress in my life,” she said.

Lara began running again in January after deciding against radiation treatment. Her energy returned, slowly. At first, she could run a few hundred yards and, days later, a mile. In April, she ran the Cherry Blossom 10-miler, less than four months after chemotherapy.

On October 22, Lara completed the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon, in Arlington, VA. There were 40 runners on Lara’s team at the Marine Corps Marathon start line. Together, they raised $40,000 for LLS!

“I decided to run with Team In Training because I wanted to help LLS raise money for cancer research, and help future patients like me.”

Since its inception in 1988, when a team of 38 runners trained together for the New York City Marathon and raised $320,000, TNT has raised more than $1.4 billion, trained more than 600,000 people and helped LLS invest more than $1 billion in research to advance breakthrough cancer treatments that are saving lives today. To learn more, go to www.teamintraining.org.

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