For many runners, the Boston Marathon represents a personal achievement and a chance to push their limits. But for Friedman graduate student Samantha Jezak, the marathon has taken on a deeper meaning.
Jezak is running her first Boston Marathon in April 2023, and she is fundraising on behalf of Tufts Medical Center in honor of her grandfather, who was treated there for cancer. Through her marathon fundraising efforts, Jezak hopes to give back to Tufts Medical Center and make a difference in the lives of others who are battling cancer. She promises to make each dollar and mile count and encourages others to donate to this important cause. In her own words below, Samantha describes her journey.
In April of 2023 I will be running my 4th marathon, but 1st Boston Marathon. This marathon differs from the rest because I am running for a cause beyond personal goals. I am fundraising on behalf of Tufts Medical Center, where my Grandfather, Walter Jezak Sr. was treated for cancer. The marathon will mark 2 years since my Grandfather was formally diagnosed with advanced Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the larynx (cancer of the voice box). Because of the severity of his condition, amongst other diagnosed diseases, local care did not feel capable of treating him, and he was since transferred to Tufts Medical. We are so happy to say that after an intense surgery and 7 weeks of radiation, my Grandfather recently celebrated being 1 year cancer free.
Unfortunately, this surgery has limited my Grandfather’s ability to communicate, and this can be very isolating. When speaking with his PA, she stated, “this is a life-changing surgery, but it’s also a life-saving surgery.” At this point, she and Dr. O’Leary have not only continued to closely surveil the cancer, but they have also given my Grandfather the tools and resources necessary to optimize his quality of life. I cannot describe how happy it makes him to still be able to enjoy sunset boat rides, campfires by the lake, and time with his children and grandchildren. Although a man of very few words, the thing that brings us together the most is sharing our love for our favorite spot in the entire world – Sunset Drive. Today, a smile from Grandpa means so much more than ever before because it is his only form of communicating happiness.
I have also been drawn to run for Tufts MC as it is now my first year as a graduate student at Tufts University in the Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition program, located right across the street from the Medical Center. I am so grateful to be a part of a community that not only prioritizes saving lives but also enhancing lives. My research focuses on how we can optimize quality of life by discovering nutritional approaches in which we can delay or slow down the natural deterioration of the human body, commonly referred to as ‘aging.’ I hope my research can one day help people like my Grandfather to enjoy life to the fullest for as long as possible. Being a student researcher at Tufts’ Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) has allowed me to turn this dream into a reality. I am so excited to represent Tufts MC Team and run 26.2 miles for them and Grandpa. If you have the resources to do so, please considering donating to this profound cause. I promise to make each dollar and mile serve a purpose.
The Tufts Marathon Team (TMT), in collaboration with John Hancock, offers the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon while raising critical funds to benefit childhood obesity, cancer, hunger/famine, and healthy aging to name a few. Since first taking part in the Marathon in 2003, TMT has raised more than $6 million to support these crucial issues in food and nutrition. You can view this year's Tufts Marathon Team runners, read their stories, and donate to their fundraising efforts for Friedman School Research at the link below.