27:05 isn’t just a number

I am not a professional runner. I run to de-stress as #1 and look at the calorie burn as a bonus.  I set out this morning to beat my 5K time from last years race, and I did. Probably could have run it a bit faster and come in with Kelly around 26:30, but whatever… it was a win in my book.  I am not ashamed to say that I am proud of me. 

I set out 11 months ago with a lot of goals in mind. Some pertained to the basics like survival. Then came goals like walking, talking, thinking. By the grace of god, and a set of skilled hands, I met my goals without a tremendous amount of effort.  Determined to get back into shape after spending months strung out on meds and waiting for my skull to heal, I set new goals.  One of those goals was to run the 5K in the 10th Annual Race for Research and run it faster than I had done before my surgery. 

The first year in 2007, two weeks past diagnosis and two weeks into my personal and private pity party, I sucked, but Kelly ran next to me the entire time. In 2008, I was one month away from surgery not allowing myself to wonder if I would be there in 2009.  This year was personally significant. I had more on the line. I had to prove to myself that 11 months after surgery I could rock out a run and do it better than I had the year before.  It didn’t matter that I had run faster on the treadmill, or alone on a run… it had to be this race this year.  So for those of you who know me well… guess what? I expect better next year. Cheers!

An enormous thank you to those of you who donated to our team Babes with Brains, and who have supported us on our journey.  A special thank you goes out to the Cardamone family who showed up this morning with all four children to give us support and love, thank you! Kelly, you know how I feel… thank you.  For Paul… well man, you rocked it out too. Pushing the boys (90lbs) in the jogger and coming into the finish line at 29 min after a water break, letting the kids get out to run over the finish line and a dropped hat – I am impressed and proud.

As a board member for the SBTF, I was asked to speak on behalf of the foundation and also speak and honor the survivors at our event.  For those of you who were unable to attend, I have included my remarks.

Good Morning! Nothing like a fun run in the Atlanta sun.

I am Jennifer Giliberto and I serve as the VP of the Board of Directors. I am also team captain for Babes with Brains and a brain tumor patient. It is my honor to stand before you and say thank you. Thank you for your support of the Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation and our 10th Annual Race for Research.

We assemble here for the 10th year as caregivers, families, patients, survivors, friends and team members. Since the inception of the Race for Research the SBTF has granted over a million dollars for research in the quest to find a cure for brain tumors and brain cancer.  We are making an impact. Through your financial support the landscape of breakthrough treatments and therapies is  growing and the horizon is bright with hope.

This is my third year participating in the Race for Research. Like you, I wish I was not here and that there was no such thing as a brain tumor or brain cancer. In 2007 I became a patient and today, 11 months after surgery, I am here standing shoulder to shoulder with each of you.  Honoring you as a patients, survivors, caregivers, family members, advocates, friends, colleagues, physicians and researchers.

We are all here today because we believe that aside from the chaos, challenges, fear, and unknown that come with this diagnosis there exists an opportunity. An opportunity to make an impact, affect change, improve treatment protocols, put one foot in front of another -albeit slowly some days- but we’re moving forward with courage, strength of spirit and a will to make a difference.

I applaud each of you for your commitment to yourselves as patients, caretakers, survivors, and family members and I applaud your commitment to us here at the SBTF and the Race for Research.

As a community of individuals each touched in some form by brain tumors and brain cancer, I think we stand as an impressive group with strength of spirit and dignity making some damn good lemonade from a pile of lemons.   

Survivor Ceremony Remarks

Gathering here each year we are painfully reminded of the toll that brain tumors and cancer have had in our lives. Too many spirit and hope filled lives have been lost tragically and unexpectedly. We express to you our deepest sympathy and while we are all at different points on our journey through this, we are navigating the waters together and we here at the SBTF are here to support you. 

Hope comes in many forms and today we recognize a group of people who collectively symbolize the hope of what our work exemplifies. Survivors stand before us, each as singular examples of the hope we have for the future of brain tumor patients. The hope that each year this group will be growing and the frequency with which we say goodbye will fade away. We applaud and celebrate you and wish you continued good health.


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