Amir and Ami Chima Run Chicago for Mom

Margaret Mary Chima, called Peggy by her friends and family, was a woman who always put others before herself. She was a radiologist for over 40 years at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, CA, but her son, Amir, remembers her most for being the mother who made their house a home. In 2013, the Chima family was shocked to learn that Peggy had pancreatic cancer. Her immediate response to the diagnosis was, “I need to get better so I can take care of others.” Amir and his wife, Ami, are training to run the Chicago Marathon with the Project Purple team as a way to honor Peggy’s battle with pancreatic cancer.

Peggy & Harjindar Chima with their grandbaby
Peggy & Harjindar Chima with their grandbaby

In late 2012, Peggy Chima developed back pain and a limp. At first she assumed that age and arthritis were catching up with her, but by December, she was having great difficulty walking and eating. Those symptoms, combined with rapid weight loss, made her realize that her symptoms must be related to something more serious.

Peggy was officially diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer on January 3rd, 2013, and was told that she only had 6-7 months to live. Amir recalls, “Her treatments entailed chemotherapy and a lot of love.” As she received her treatments, Peggy was able to spend her time at her home in the San Francisco Bay Area, surrounded by family and friends. “Visitors had a chance to talk with her and experience her sarcasm, wit and wisdom all the way to the end,” Amir adds.

The biggest blessing of all was that Peggy lived long enough to meet her second grandchild. Unfortunately, she did not have the six months that the doctor thought she would live. Peggy passed away on April 18th, 2013, only three-and-a-half months after her diagnosis. She left behind her husband Harjindar, daughter Amrit and son-in-law Daniel Horvath, and son Amir and daughter-in-law Ami. She is also survived by extended family and a large network of friends.

Peggy, Amir, Harjindar & Amrit whispering secrets
Peggy, Amir, Harjindar & Amrit whispering secrets

“From my perspective, what comes to mind is friendship, love and connection,” Amir says of his mother, Peggy. “She always welcomed me with a big hug, made my favorite dish when I visited home, and most importantly, gave me space to grow and learn, yet was always available to support me in any way I needed.” Amir and his mother had a very close and special relationship.  “She and I talked about everything. In fact, after she was diagnosed, we both found it important to have one-on-one time.”

“She was authentic, real and genuinely interested in you as a person. She took the time to get to know my friends.” Peggy was also known for her sense of humor. One time, Amir’s good friend rang the doorbell. Peggy looked at him and said, ‘Oh, it’s you again’, and then shut the door in his face, leaving him smiling and wondering what in the world had just happened.

Amir Runs for His Health and for His Mom

Amir, a Real Estate Professional, raises his two sons, Ishan, 5, and Saavan, 3, with his wife Ami. He enjoys good meals, exercise, the company of friends and family, and travel. In fact, his love of adventure has inspired him to travel to more than 40 countries. He says, “I really don’t need much more than a good workout, a plane ticket and time with my loved ones.”

Since his mother passed away, Amir has actively worked towards incorporating healthy habits into his lifestyle. He has taken up meditation and gardening. He and his wife Ami run as a hobby and to help keep them fit and healthy. Though he does not consider himself to be a serious runner, Amir has run five half-marathons this year alone.

Amir running the San Francisco Half-Marathon
Amir running one of many half-marathons he has completed.

Amir and Ami have been together since 2000, and have been running half-marathons together since 2007. They always wanted to run a marathon, but shied away from the time commitment involved in training. “I have played a lot of basketball since youth and I never wanted to stress my body to compromise playing basketball,” he explains. But now that he has several half-marathons under his belt, Amir believes that he has built up the stamina and endurance needed to run a marathon.

Amir, Ami and their children
Amir, Ami and their children

Amir and Ami Find Project Purple

When Amir and Ami decided to run a marathon, they figured that they should run for a purpose. Amir believes that running for a cause would help him to fully dedicate himself to a training program. After seeing how lethal pancreatic cancer is, he knew he wanted to run for a pancreatic cancer charity. “For where I am at in my life, there was no greater inspiration or purpose to run for than to honor my mom. Since she passed from pancreatic cancer, I researched organizations raising awareness and funding research around the cancer that took her life. I came across Project Purple and this has been an amazing platform for me to share her memory and raise more awareness around pancreatic cancer.”

Amir at the San Francisco half-marathon
Amir at the San Francisco half-marathon
When the couple saw they could run the Chicago Marathon with Project Purple, they knew that was the race they wanted to run. Amir explains, “Once we got serious about running this, the option that lined up perfectly was Chicago, so we didn’t second guess and wait for something more local. Instead, we followed the energy and said let’s do it!”

Amir Remembers His Mom

Amir remembers the end of his mom’s life, and how his mother’s beliefs helped him deal with the reality of her disease. “Although we knew her passing was coming, we both knew our relationship didn’t require each other’s physical presence. We had always discussed death openly since I was young, and how the physical existence is only one type of existence.” He continues, “I remember our last interaction. She was lying in the hospital bed and our eyes met. She didn’t have the energy to speak. I took her hand and said softly, ‘It’s time for you to take care of yourself.’ She smiled. That night she passed away.”  Amir is comforted by the knowledge that he helped give his mother what she needed at the end of her life.

Please support Amir and Ami as they run the Chicago Marathon for Project Purple by making a donation to their fundraising campaign at the following link:

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