Fighting Cancer One 5K Race at a Time

"Not only did she cross the finish line, she did so holding my hand."

As a chemo-infusion nurse at Roswell Park’s Amherst Center, I have been fortunate enough to build meaningful relationships with some truly inspiring people. The work of my colleagues and strength of our patients never ceases to amaze me.

Laura Cornwall with Maureen Kelly, former Roswell Park Executive Director of Clinical Projects

The young woman who nominated me for the DAISY Award has been a patient at the Amherst Center for nearly 10 years, and she is currently undergoing active treatment for colorectal cancer.

Over the last few years, we’ve formed a fairly close bond. So close, in fact, that she invited me to her wedding and we ran a 5K race together. It should be noted that this was not just any 5K race — we took part in the Dirty Girl Mud Run, a sloppy, slippery obstacle course, stretching 3.1 miles.

A huge storm blew through town the day before the race, leaving an already-treacherous course in awful condition. My patient, however, was not to be deterred. Running through humid, wet weather, she climbed up walls, crashed through gates and even attacked a steep hill head-on, not stopping until she completed the 5K in its entirety. Not only did she cross the finish line, she did so holding my hand, leading to an emotional moment with her waiting family.

I believe that completing the race empowered this young woman. She’s had an excellent chemotherapy course since then, and has even progressed a bit. Nothing seems to slow her down. Since running in the Dirty Girl, the same patient completed the Insane Inflatable 5K with another Amherst Center nurse and is planning on participating in more endurance events this summer. She just won’t quit.

For me, winning the DAISY Award was a humbling experience. Being nominated by this patient and being selected for this award, out of all my other fellow nurses, is actually a bit difficult for me because we really are one unit and one family.

Each nurse at the Amherst Center knows this particular patient very well. She could have nominated any one of us. I just happened to run a race with her. Receiving the DAISY Award is an honor and I’m just grateful to call Roswell Park my home, and for the chance to get to know these incredible people along the way.