Laura Pisani

"I run to fight the fear of the unknown and to cope with the illness of the person I love most."

My relationship with running is as intense as it is new to me. The year 2016 started on a really ugly foot. On New Year’s Eve, while on my way to a party, I received a phone call from my mother, who lives in Italy. She wished me Happy New Year and said, "Oh by the way, I am in the hospital. I just had surgery. I have breast cancer."

My heart sank. I felt devastated, deceived and terrified. My incredibly strong mother, who had never been sick and had always been my inspiration to fight tooth and nail for my dream now had cancer.

The days between her surgery and receiving her biopsy results were heart wrenching. Then they arrived—and showed that her cancer was extremely aggressive. I flew to Italy in a heartbeat. I left everything behind and stopped my life for days.

Then the journey started: chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy. Mom started her fight with the courage of a lioness. She never gave up or cried, and always put her children and grandchildren first, like the amazing and strong woman she is. She has been an inspiration for so many people.

Seeing her fight so hard and so bravely for her life made me want to change mine. I started walking and running on a treadmill as soon as I returned from Italy. The more I ran, the more I found my inner strength. While my body became gradually stronger and leaner, my mind found a state of calm, peace and serenity. Every mile was one step in my own battle. While mom was braving radiotherapy, I decided to take the leap and train for a half marathon. To go beyond my limitations and make her proud of me. And so I did.

I run to fight the fear of the unknown and to cope with the illness of the person I love most. I run to prove that the human body has no limitations when it comes to fighting pain of any kind. I run to prove to my mother that no fight is impossible, and we can all make our own little miracles.

But most of all, I run because this coming March 19 (United Airlines NYC Half) and November 5 (TCS New York City Marathon), my mother promised she will be there at the finish line cheering for me.

My mom and me.