Cancer Survivor Completes Boston Marathon In 13 Incredible Hours

Shertenlieb crossed the finish line a little after midnight and was awarded a ceremonial medal for showing incredible determination.


As participants fared extreme weather during the Boston Marathon on April 16, people witnessed Desi Linden become the first American woman to claim the first prize in over three decades. In the same crown, there was another determined American woman, Mary Shertenlieb, but her goal was quite different from Linden.

A three-time cancer survivor, Shertenlieb gave her all to finish the marathon, 13 hours after she started it; all to raise money for an institute that helped save her life.

Five years ago, the mother of two, who weathered the tough conditions of the marathon, was diagnosed with cancer thrice and won.

Shertenlieb was diagnosed with a belligerent form of leukemia, known as AML. After extreme chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, she had relapsed to the disease two times before opting for Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

"They said, this time we're going to nuke you and throw all these crazy things that we haven't tried before. Are you game for doing that? And [my husband] Rich and I said, yeah, let's try whatever we can," she told CBS Boston.

The treatment worked, leaving a determined survivor to run the marathon in order to raise money for the institute that saved her life.


The run was never going to be easy but on the day of the marathon, it was made exceptionally harder as icy rain and wind made it difficult for the most seasoned of runners.

"At that point, her body began to shiver uncontrollably, her lips turned purple, and because of her compromised immune system, her doctors instructed her to stop running in the rain should this happen,” wrote her husband Rich, a local radio host, in a tweet.

As her doctors had instructed, Shertenlieb temporarily halted her mission around 4 p.m. waiting for the weather to get better. Once the rain died down, the incredible woman was on her way to the finish line again in a pair of dry clothes, this time accompanied by her husband.

After midnight she did what she set out for, she crossed the finish line holding her husband’s hand. She was awarded with a ceremonial medal for her incredible courage.

"This race is so important to me, it's so important to this city. It's where I had my boys. This race is like something I've always dreamed of doing and I'm so thankful to everybody that donated money to Dana-Farber because that place saved my life," she told a local station.

This extraordinary feat let Shertenlieb raise over $36,000 for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to help fight cancer.

Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports/ REUTERS

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