• Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge

    Andy Willett stays connected with his father through the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge

    Andy WillettAndy Willett in his DFMC '11 singlet 

    For eight years, Andy Willett often took his dad, Ted, to Dana-Farber for treatments for his prostate cancer. After a hard-fought and painful battle, Ted passed away in November 2004. In November 2005 — one year to the day Andy’s father died — Andy received his own diagnosis: testicular cancer. It was also his tenth wedding anniversary.

    "It was quite a day," recalls Andy. "I thought, 'What exactly is going on here?'"

    Andy was treated on the same floor at Dana-Farber as his father and by the same people. When Andy arrived for his first treatment, the staff recognized him as Ted’s son and told him how much his father had made them laugh.

    "I feel like I got off really easy compared to what I watched him go through," Andy says of his father's illness. "It was somehow very comforting to be in the same rooms. It was almost like a dry run — what he took me through."

    "It was a sobering experience," Andy added. "Cancer doesn’t discriminate."

    Andy underwent surgery and chemotherapy at Dana-Farber and has been in remission since 2006. He said he feels his Boston Marathon runs in 2011 and 2012 to benefit Dana-Farber are a great way to stay connected with his father.

    "It's to give back," he said. "I’ve benefitted from people who’ve probably done years of fundraising before me."

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