Piper Hollis was halfway through her seven-mile run when she started to feel it was time to give up. She was tired, it was hot and she could think of a million other things she wanted to be doing instead of running. Just as she was about to stop, she approached a woman, who called out to her.
“I love your shirt!” the woman said. “I’m so glad you are running for a great cause.”
With that interaction, Hollis found renewed strength and went on to finish her run.
Hollis spent this sum- mer training for the Falmouth Road Race, a seven-mile road race that winds around Falmouth and has seen celebrity runners such as Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter take to the streets. Far from an Olympic runner herself, Hollis was always active, having played sports in college and maintained a healthy lifestyle. When her friend suggested she run in this year’s race, she figured it was time to start getting in shape.
“I’ve always been athletic, but I don’t run seven miles regularly,” she said. “It was something I definitely had to work up to.”
As she trained, Hollis began to feel more comfortable with the long run, channeling her emotions and focusing on improving physically.
Hollis’ father passed away in March from small cell cancer. He had five weeks from when he was diagnosed until he died. Despite the grim diagnosis, he was able to keep some perspective.
“When we used to go into the hospital for treatment, we would walk past bald-headed children who were undergoing treatment,” Hollis said. “He would always turn to me and say, ‘Better me than them.’”
Hollis decided to run the Falmouth Road Race in memory of her father and also in celebration of her mother, who was diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer three years ago.
“She showed such amazing strength and powered through chemotherapy and radiation,” Hollis said. “She found solace in exercise and even started an exercise group for women undergoing cancer treatment in New Hampshire.”
Running in honor of her father has also been very important to Hollis’ mother, who has seen the race as yet another milestone, another chance to memorialize her husband.
Hollis will be running on the Dana Farber team this year and aims to raise about $3,000. As a whole, the Dana Farber team aims to raise $700,000. Right now, they are at about $450,000.
“I’m very excited about my $3,000,” she said. “Even though it means so much to me, I know it’s just a drop in the bucket for Dana Farber. But if everyone just did a drop in the bucket, think of how quickly we could surpass their goal.”
When on her run a few weeks back, Hollis was wearing the T-shirt for Dana Farber that she will be wearing on race day. When she passed the woman on the sidewalk, she thought about the impact she could have.
“It occurred to me that that woman must have a story, that everyone has a story,” she said. “Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way and I’m honored to have the chance to do my part in doing research and hopefully finding a treatment and a cure.”