Kristen Bence

"I will run to celebrate my survivorship. I will run to honor those still fighting. I will run to remember those who have been lost to this terrible disease."

When I ran the New York City Marathon with Fred's Team in November 2014, I thought I was the healthiest I had ever been. I had just lost over 100 pounds, and was instructing four to five gym classes a week—I felt unstoppable.  Never did I imagine that, fewer than three months after the marathon, I would be a patient at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

I had no idea I was sick. My first symptoms began just three days after the NYC Marathon. Little did I know: running 26.2 miles would be the easiest thing my body would endure in the next year. On January 15, 2015, I was diagnosed with rectal cancer.

I underwent surgery in March 2015 at MSK and faced several complications, setbacks, and a reversal surgery a few months later.

The care I received at MSK was incredible. My surgeon, Dr. Philip Paty is the best. He thoroughly cared about me as a person, and not just my tumor. He came to my bedside at 10pm on a Sunday night, and even called from his cell phone to check up on me. He remembered little details from my personal life, too.

I also have amazing nurses. Every staff member at MSK—from the doctors and nurses, to the doormen, the food service workers, the shuttle bus drivers, and the cleaning crew—all possess genuine compassion and empathy in their interactions with my family and me.

Although recovery has been challenging, I have decided that running the TCS New York City Marathon again with Fred's Team is a great way to give back to this amazing hospital.

Running over the past 3 years has taught me so much about life. It has taught me to keep moving forward, one step at a time. It has taught me how desire, determination, and dedication can go a long way. It has reinforced the power of believing in myself, and has enabled me to realize that I am capable of more than I think. Most of all, it has taught me that the tasks ahead of me are never greater than the strength within me. I have used what running taught me to get through the challenging issues cancer has dealt me. So, what better way to give back for these blessings than to run!

I will run to celebrate my survivorship. I will run to honor those still fighting. I will run to remember those who have been lost to this terrible disease.

I don't want anyone to have to go through what I've been through or what any of those fighting are going through. That’s why I run with Fred’s Team.

Why We Run - Kristen