• Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge

    Tara Cassery battles through her first marathon to honor a friend’s son

    Tara Cassery with Daniel DepatieTara Cassery with her DFMC '12 Patient Partner, Daniel Depatie 

    When Tara, a first-time Marathoner has sore legs and feet from her training, she thinks of Daniel, who lives with his family in Oxford, and she gets back out there.

    "I think, 'All right, Tara, who are you running for?'" she said. The pains are "nothing compared to what he is going through. I will muddle through. He is my inspiration."

    Tara met Daniel's mom, Sue, twenty years ago when they worked together at her first job. They have been extremely close ever since, especially through Daniel's battle with Neuroblastoma, a cancer which forms in the nerve tissue of the adrenal gland, neck, chest, or spinal cord. Daniel was diagnosed at age 5 and was treated and in remission for three years. When his cancer returned last August, Tara wanted to do something to help.

    "He has such a good attitude and his mother is my rock," said Tara. "I can't believe her strength. She never complains and she won't let her son complain."

    Daniel has had several rounds of intense chemo therapy, two stem cell transplants, localized radiation and multiple surgeries. Still, his positive attitude propels him to play sports, go fishing, and play video games. Tara said his best times are spent enjoying life with his mom, dad and 13-year-old sister, Samantha.

    "His parents don't sugarcoat it," Tara said of Daniel's illness. "He knows how serious it is. This time around, he knew what all of that meant. He knew he was going to lose his hair again. It gets you mad — why could this happen to someone so great?"

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