Wellesley marathoner and cancer survivor Carol Chaoui will speak at the kickoff rally for The American Cancer Society Relay for Life fundraiser on Monday, Feb. 13, at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham.
“The community is so important when you’re going through cancer treatments,” she said. “The sharing of stories, and meeting other cancer survivors – it’s important to see events like this.”
The relay itself will take place from June 16-17 at Bobby Conroy Field in DeFazio Park in Needham. Participants will camp out on the field overnight, walking laps until morning.
Needham’s relay is one of more than 95 planned for this year in Massachusetts, according to a press release from the American Cancer Society. The events are expected to raise more than $11 million to benefit the Society.
It will be Chaoui’s third Relay event, and the first time she’s spoken at one.
“It moves people to hear the stories,” she said. “Being able to let them know - there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You’ll get through this.”
Chaoui, 48 and a lifelong runner, was diagnosed with invasive stage 3 breast cancer in July of 2009. In August, she had a mastectomy. In September, she started chemotherapy – and she started running races.
“I was racing faster when I was going through chemo,” she laughed.
She did eight races during chemo – one for each treatment.
The day she ran the Tufts 10K, it was so hot that she took off her skullcap at the last mile.
“I ran the last mile bald, and it was just so exhilarating,” she said.
She ran four more races while undergoing radiation, and two weeks after her treatments ended, she ran the Boston Marathon.
On pace to finish in 3 hours and 40 minutes, the chemo-caused neuropathy that left her with numb feet tripped her up, and she fell hard at the fifteen-mile mark.
“In the end, I needed to finish,” she said. “Blood dripping down my knees and elbows and face.”
She crossed the finish line at 4 hours, 1 minute.
Chaoui has raised more than $100,000 to fight cancer by running races and fundraising with friends.
Her teenage daughter is forming a Relay for Life team this year, she said.
“It’s a wonderful event, and you just get inspired by all the people,” she said.
Anyone who wants to participate should go to the rally on Feb. 13, where people can form teams, volunteer to work the event, or join the planning committee.
Temple Beth Shalom is located at 670 Highland Ave in Needham. The rally will begin at 7:00 p.m.
For more information, contact Melissa Padeni at 508-897-4324 or Melissa.Padeni@cancer.org, or go online to the website.
Evan Allen can be reached at email@example.com