As the sun rose early Monday morning June 27 in Philadelphia, so did a record number of runners and walkers. In all, over 385 participants turned out for CISCRP’s third annual Medical Heroes Appreciation 5K to be held in conjunction with the DIA Annual Meeting. While each of those nearly 400 participants came out to show their gratitude for the amazing gift of participation given by clinical trial volunteers, 44-year-old Crystal Brown-Tatum of Dallas, TX had a special reason to step up to the starting line.
For Crystal, not only was that morning the culmination of 6 months of training, battling asthma along with the other struggles of putting her body through the physical demands of running for the first time, but also represented that with a positive attitude and dedication she could overcome almost anything. It’s with that same mindset that she took on her Stage 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer, too, from which this April she celebrated 9 years in remission.
Crystal’s participation in the 5K serves as an amazing reminder to the CISCRP team about why hold this events, and the types of everyday heroes who are among us. “Her story inspires us,” says Senior Manager of Development, Fundraising & Events Ellyn Getz.
Crystal says seeing her friends post about their running-related triumphs on social media was her initial motivation to train for the Medical Heroes Appreciation 5K. “I just had an ah-ha moment. I remember thinking ‘why do I live my life saying I can never run a marathon, or I can never run a 5K when I’ve never even tried?’” she recalls. “After seeing my body overcome something like cancer, why am I holding back from letting it do other amazing things?”
But training was no easy feat. She started by participating in a friend’s challenge to walk or run 90 miles in 90 days – between January and March she’d gone 96 miles. “A 5K was the next realistic step.” In the beginning, Crystal averaged 16 minutes per mile. On race day, she was able to finish in just over 40 minutes, getting her average mile time down to 14 minutes. She reflected on her experience at the Medical Heroes 5K on her blog, Crystal Clear Observations.
Crystal, who was attending the DIA 2016 meeting as a Patient Fellow, dedicates time outside her fulltime job at Amazon to volunteering with Sisters Network Inc., the only national African American breast cancer survivorship organization in the US, with over 50 chapters across the country. There, she helps other minority breast cancer patients find relevant clinical trials – the Medical Heroes she came out to run for that morning. She also serves as a PCORI Ambassador and Patient Mentor.
The CISCRP team acknowledges the generous event sponsors and outpouring of support from 5K participants who help make the event such a success, as well as the DIA for serving as the Host Partner and engaging conference-goers in registering. The team looks forward to returning to the DIA Annual Meeting again next year in Chicago, and so does Crystal.
Special thanks to our generous sponsors for this special event: