Sally Lappies Kraham has always wanted to run the Chicago Marathon. She had recently put her name in for the lottery when her family received some bad news: her husband’s cousin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Sally says, “My husband Rich comes from a very big, loving family and Pam is a part of that family.” As soon as Sally heard about the diagnosis, she thought, “I need to do something. I need to run for Pam.”
In 2014, life was going well for Pam. Recently retired from her job in public relations and fund development for a hospital and widowed, she had reconnected with Leigh. Pam and Leigh had dated one another many years earlier. When the two became reunited, a romance blossomed. Sally says, “I saw Pam in May of 2014. She and Leigh were so happy. She was just glowing.”
In December 2014, Pam went to the hospital for a surgical procedure. When the doctor operated, he discovered that she had stage IV pancreatic cancer. Though Pam is a private person, she set up an online journal to communicate with her family and friends about her medical battle. She is a professional writer, and while her journal is quite candid about her struggles, it is also filled with humor. It was through Pam’s journal that Sally and Rich first learned of her illness in January 2015.
Pam did not let her diagnosis rob her of her life or her happiness. As a testament to their positivity and commitment to one another, Pam and Leigh got married shortly after they learned of her pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
Pam has continued to receive treatment over these last several months. She is currently in her second clinical trial. Pam wanted to take part in these research studies because she believed that it was the right thing to do. She hopes that the knowledge gleaned from the trials will help others who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Sally explains, “She wants to make a difference for anyone who goes through pancreatic cancer.” Pam’s most recent CT scan revealed that her tumors have diminished somewhat.
Sally has been greatly inspired by the positive attitude Pam has shown as she has faced her diagnosis. “Pam is a bright light in the Kraham family. The way she has gone into battle is amazing. She can take her humor and make things look bright instead of cloudy. Through this all, she has been so positive.”
Pam’s positivity in the face of an extremely difficult diagnosis has been an inspiration to Sally and she is excited to run in honor of Pam. When Sally was in high school, she was a cheerleader, not a runner. She recounts, “I was not athletic. I would trip over my own feet. So when people hear that I run marathons, they are impressed!”
Sally originally started running about 15 years ago. She was going through a difficult time and her brother encouraged her to start running with a group he belonged to. She ran a few races and then took some time off. However, she realized during her break that running was her therapy. “Running helps clear my head and keep me sane,” Sally explains. In 2007, she decided to become more serious about her running. The upstate New York resident began training in earnest. She has now finished twelve half-marathons and three marathons. “The half-marathon distance is my favorite. Training for a full marathon is time-consuming, but it really is my therapy. If I couldn’t run, I don’t know what I would do!”
Sally, who works as a legal assistant, has two adult children. Her husband Rich is a runner, but he no longer runs long distances. Instead, he often rides his bike alongside Sally as she completes her long runs, providing her with company while carrying her water and gels. They frequently ride and run on a rail trail in the Berkshire foothills of Massachusetts. Sally says, “He is my rock. It is always hard for me to say good-bye when I leave him at the starting line of a race.”
Sally is looking forward to running the Chicago Marathon in Pam’s honor. Though she has run other marathons (Marine Corps, New York City Marathon and the Hudson-Mohawk), Sally has never run as part of a team. She says, “I am excited to be running with Project Purple. Usually I get the “What am I doing?” feeling at this point in my training. But this time, when I start thinking like that, I remember what Pam is going through. It is a great motivation for me. I am thankful for the fact that I can run for Pam.”
Please support Sally’s fundraising campaign by making a tax-deductible donation at her Crowdrise Page: