In Your Area
Susan and John, who have been matched 1 year share their thoughts about the Patient-Runner Connection program.
Susan, you were completely new to the Patient-Runner Connection this year. Can you tell us what you expected from the program back in fall when you signed-up?
Susan: I wasn't sure what to expect other than meeting my runner match, which turned out to be an awesome experience. John and I are both researchers, although he's into the hard science behind liver disease and I'm interested in the social and medical aspects of it. We're learning a lot about and from each other.
John, you and Susan connected instantly. As someone working on the research side of the liver arena, how did being matched with Susan enhance your training and career?
John: As Susan and I started to get to know each other, I was thrilled to discover how Susan’s life experiences were a fit with my scientific career, the majority of which I’ve been researching hepatocellular carcinoma and hepatitis C. During my career, I’ve tried to keep sight of going to work for more than a paycheck and my initial excitement after meeting Susan quickly turned into a deep caring for her. I routinely read papers about HCV and hepatocellular carcinoma; the epidemiology, pathology and treatments; however, Susan is the first person I’ve known who has had these diseases and I’ve been touched and educated while getting to know her. Susan, and many other people who have liver disease, will hopefully benefit from the research scientists like me love to do. Many of my colleagues at work have shared in my joy of getting to know Susan and I hope I’ve reminded others that we are working to treat or cure people with liver disease.
Not only were you a great cheerleader on Marathon Monday, as John raced by in his “Cruisin’ for Susan” singlet, but throughout the season you have been there with your family to support him on long runs, met up at socials, and had the opportunity to meet each other’s families. Now that marathon season is over, what does your relationship have in store?
Susan: John and I have already committed to continuing our partnership (and friendship). He and his family have provided me with incredible support - while I was waiting for a liver and now that I have received a transplant*. John is planning to run the marathon again next year and I plan to provide him with as much support as possible during his training.
Many people worry that when marathon season ends, that so does the Patient-Runner Connection program. What advice do you have for those people after being matched with Susan this season?
John: I think Susan and I would have become friends had we started-up a conversation in the grocery store. However, I am thankful the patient-runner connection program introduced me to Susan (and her family) and provided socials for us to get to know each other. Like any friendship in life, you have to keep in touch; and when you care about someone, you will. The friendships gained during this program are tied together by strong emotions - Susan and I were each other’s supporters and cheerleaders in our own ways. We will continue to support each other as you will with your patient-runner match. Don’t hesitate to email each other when you think about it – life is busy and days move by quickly!
Susan, looking back from when you first signed-up for the program, have your views of the PRC changed any?
Susan: I've learned a lot about the importance of the program. Not only is it a way to raise much needed funds for research, but the PRC program offers invaluable opportunities to increase public awareness about liver disease and the need/opportunity for transplant donors. I hope that I can help to make an impact by sharing my story with professional colleagues (like those at Idenix) and the public through my affiliation with ALF.
* Less than two weeks after the marathon, Susan received the news that she had been waiting for all season; a liver was available for her. We heard the news that morning from John! Congratulations Susan!