Running for Hope: Liz’s Story

Liz Maidl has been a casual runner since medical school, using running as a stress reliever and break. However, everything changed when her mom, Laurie, was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer on Memorial Day Weekend 2023. Liz dropped everything to serve as her mom’s primary caretaker, so running took a backseat. 

As a doctor practicing General Internal Medicine, Liz had seen pancreatic cancer as a physician but had never been on the other side of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. “To be on the other side of things was a different experience as I went from being the doctor to going to the appointments with my mom,” Liz said. “So that was completely eye-opening and it impacted me on a personal and professional level.”

Shortly after her diagnosis, Maidl’s mom, Laurie, was accepted for a clinical trial that seemed promising and had positive initial results However, in early January 2024, Liz and her family learned that the clinical trial was no longer controlling the cancer, and not long after her mom sadly passed away. 

As a lifelong Minnesota native, Maidl ran the 2024 Grandma’s Marathon to honor her mom’s strength during her pancreatic cancer battle. “I saw what my mom was going through and how hard she was working,” Liz said. “I felt like I needed to do something to honor her and commemorate this battle that she’s going through. The first thing that came to mind was Grandma’s Marathon.”

If you would like to support Liz’s efforts, please click here to donate.

Finding Project Purple and Joining the Community

Liz had no luck trying to get her own entry for Grandma’s Marathon as the race sold out within weeks of registration being open. “I remember looking around and within a week or two of them opening the race the marathon had sold out,” Liz said. “I was like oh my gosh how am I going to get into Grandma’s now.” Stuck at a crossroads, she started looking for pancreatic cancer charities to run with that had entries available and that’s when she found Project Purple. 

“I started looking and found Project Purple by going through socials and everything. I was like ‘This would be a really awesome charity to get involved with to run Grandma’s Marathon and honor my mom at the same time,’” Liz said.

Maidl applied to run with Project Purple and on the day her mom passed away, she received her entry into the Project Purple Grandma’s Marathon run team. “I remember thinking there’s some higher power that’s intervening here being like, ‘You did the right thing doing this marathon.’”

Quickly after receiving her entry to run as a member of the Project Purple Grandma’s Marathon team, Liz learned the power of our community. Feeling alone during her mom’s pancreatic cancer journey Maidl, found comfort and support in a community of like-minded individuals. 

“It can feel very isolating going through both a cancer diagnosis and then the loss of a parent and to see that other people are having the same experience as you and going through the same things as you has been a really positive experience. The community here is very supportive and I’m grateful that I’m in it and get to be a part of things to make a difference.” 

Running Towards the Battle

When she started fundraising and training in February, Liz tripled her fundraising goal within 48 hours of posting her link. Maidl quickly realized how many people wanted to do something to honor her mom and support her along her path to race day. “I definitely had some days where I woke up feeling very helpless, but when all of this was going on and when I had tripled my goal, I realized how many people wanted to do something to memorialize my mom and contribute in some way,” Liz said.

“A marathon is a battle but it doesn’t compare to chemo. It doesn’t compare to fighting pancreatic cancer in any way, but I’ve been a runner my whole life so I was like I can do this. For her, I can do this.” On June 22nd, Liz completed her first marathon, Grandma’s Marathon, in honor of her mom all while raising crucial funds for this disease. 

If you would like to support Liz’s efforts, please click here to donate.

To apply to run Grandma’s Marathon in 2025, please click here.

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