By LISA CAPOBIANCO
For Bristol native Katelin Roche, running in the 2015 Boston Marathon means turning a tragedy into a beacon of hope.
In late 2013, Katelin experienced the loss of her mother, Julie Roche, who battled cancer. In less than six weeks, Katelin will honor her mother by running for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training during the Boston Marathon. Through her participation, Katelin also hopes to help raise money for a cure and to spread awareness about all blood cancers.
A nurse at Bristol Hospital for 26 years, Julie Roche was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome RAEB 2 in January 2013. In late 2012, she had what she believed was the flu, but never fully recovered.
When her mother announced the diagnosis, Katelin felt like her world turned upside down. From January to October 2013, Julie underwent a series of chemotherapy treatments before receiving a bone marrow transplant. However, Julie passed away after severe complications from the transplant.
“She taught me to be very strong and…to always hold my head up high,” said Katelin, adding her mother also taught her to maintain passion and commitment.
But for Katelin, her story is not one about tragedy—it is about spreading hope to others who may have experienced a similar situation. After her mother’s passing, running became a new outlet for Katelin.
“It just clears my mind,” said Katelin, adding how running has reminded her that she can get through each day. “It keeps me on track.”
Known as the world’s oldest annual marathon, the Boston Marathon is scheduled to take place April 20 this year. Last year, Katelin decided she wanted to take her passion to the national event, and by early October, was accepted to run with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training. A national voluntary health organization, the Society’s mission is to “cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s Disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life for patients and their families,” according to the Boston Marathon’s website. Team In Training is the society’s signature fundraising campaign that has raised over $1.2 billion nationwide in the race to find a cure for blood cancers, stated the Boston Marathon’s website.
“I wanted to make more of it than a tragedy,” said Katelin, adding how she always wanted to run in a marathon. “I thought it would be a great way to honor my mom.”
Although required to raise at least $5,000, Katelin surpassed that goal. To date, she has raised over $6,800 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Katelin not only received support from her hometown, where her father and brother currently reside, but also from the community of Allston, Mass. where she attends Suffolk Law School as a third year student while working part-time.
“I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity,” said Katelin, who lived in Connecticut for 22 years before moving to Massachusetts.
In preparation for the marathon, Katelin has done cross training and participates in team runs on the weekends while corresponding with two trainers on the team. Recently Katelin completed a 16-mile run despite the remaining snow piles and icy sidewalks.
Katelin said she looks forward to crossing the finish line the day of the marathon, knowing that she made a difference. Most of all, Katelin said she hopes to learn from the stories of others, as each teammate has been affected by cancer in some way. Katelin added that sharing stories with teammates from across the country brings hope to those who may feel alone.
“It shows how the team is really connected,” said Katelin, adding how she also looks forward to seeing her family at the event. “They’re not alone and support is there.”
Katelin is still accepting donations for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. To donate, or to learn more about her fundraiser, visit http://pages.teamintraining.org/ma/boston15/kKatelin.