The date that her daughter, Cassandra, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma sticks out like an albatross in Madelaine Reese’s subconscious mind. It was October 9, 2003; Cassandra was just 4 years old. Doctors told her mother that the girl would not live to see 6th birthday.
Today, Cassandra is 12 years old and NED (no evidence of disease). Her mother, who has taken up long distance running in recent years, says she could not ignore the fact that the date of the Chicago Marathon will mark eight years since the diagnosis that changed both their lives.
On October 9, Reese of Huntley, Illinois, will join some 45,000 runners for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. It will be her first marathon ever, and she has set out to raise $100 for every mile of the 26.2-mile race. Proceeds will benefit the Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation.
“Every mile will bring me closer to my goal to finish the marathon and honor the kids I'm running for, one in particular my daughter, Cassandra,” Reese says.
Cassandra had never experienced illness beyond a common cold or an ear infection when she was diagnosed. What’s more, the size and location of the tumor – on Cassandra’s spine – placed her at great risk of paralysis.
“We were told she would not survive,” Reese says. “Fear replaced every emotion I had ever known. While the doctors kept talking, I was negotiating with God.”
Today, Cassandra shows no outward signs of the courageous battle she fought and won, her mother says. But the girl remains at risk. Every fall, the family endures the anguish of a CT scan.
“She’s been clean. Many are not so lucky,” Reese says. “Over the years, we have lost a lot of friends to neuroblastoma. No matter the age, children die from cancer every day. That’s the thing about neuroblastoma. No two cases are the same.”
Pediatric cancer research is severely underfunded, which is another reason Reese says she decided to get involved.
“To honor the memory of all the children who fought hard and those that are still in the battle to save their lives, I will run the 26.2 miles and hope you are there to support me!”
To donate to Reese’s marathon fundraiser, click on the ‘Donate Now” button on this Web site and under “What fundraiser would you like to give credit for donation?” select “Madelaine Reese Chicago Marathon” from the drop down menu.