Boston Marathon Runner Climbs Hills In Fight To Cure Cancer

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Jamie Gornstein Tighe will be running her second Boston Marathon with the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team in April.
Jamie Gornstein Tighe will be running her second Boston Marathon with the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team in April. Photo Credit: Jamie Gornstein Tighe

MILFORD, Mass. – Jamie Gornstein Tighe wakes up at 4:30 a.m. on weekdays and immediately hops on a treadmill. On Saturdays, she gets to sleep in until 6 a.m. before heading out in to the cold and running 10 to 20 miles. But it could be worse.

“Long runs are hard, but it’s not chemo,” said Tighe, a Franklin resident. “When I’m done, I’ll be sore and I won’t be able to walk for a day or two. But people going through cancer won’t have that luxury. They’re going through an extremely painful experience.

“I just tell myself to suck it up – you’re not going through cancer."

Tighe doesn’t consider herself a true runner. But in April, she’ll be running her second Boston Marathon with the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team. Every dollar she raises supports the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research, which funds the “brightest, most creative scientists making basic research discoveries.”

In 2011, Tighe raised more than $12,000 in memory of her close friend Andy Swan, who died at age 35 from Stage IV lung cancer.

“Andy was a non-smoker and in excellent health,” she said. “This diagnosis came completely out of left field. And he died 10 months after diagnosis, leaving behind his wife and 4-year-old son. He was a filmmaker with a bright future, and it was such a devastating blow.

“His father is now battling prostate cancer and is also being treated by Dana-Farber. This year I am running in Andy’s memory and in honor of Bob, Andy’s father. My goal is just shy of $13,000, as I want to raise $25,000 for my two marathons.”

Tighe said she has already raised more than $6,500 on Facebook, and she is organizing a fundraiser for April 6 with current and former players from the Patriots and Celtics. The fundraiser is tentatively planned for 3 to 6 p.m. at CJ’s in Framingham.

“I have every confidence that people will help me get to that goal,” she said. “I’m hoping every little bit adds up, and I can reach that goal of $12,880.”

Tighe, who has daughters in second and sixth grades, is a special needs job coach at Medway High School. As a result, her only time to train is before the sun comes up.

“You do what you got to do,” she said. “That’s part of being a mom and working. But it’s such an important cause, and the time has to go in. It’s also great for my girls to see this, so they’re inspired to do something like this.”

On Saturdays, Tighe joins her Dana-Farber teammates for long group runs. Most of the runs are on the Boston Marathon course with hilly routes to prepare them for Heartbreak Hill and for the 26.2-mile race, she said.

But it’s not just the team's camaraderie that helps her through the marathon training.

“I couldn't do this without my husband Kevin’s support,” Tighe said. “He takes our daughters to their basketball games every Saturday so I can run, and then he takes care of them when I am trying to recover.

“And he's a great masseuse, post-run,” she added.

For more information about Tighe’s fundraising, visit her page.

The Daily Voice is profiling local runners who are running the Boston Marathon for charity. Email to have your story told.

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