When she reflects on her running journey, Renée says that no one moment stands out, but more the overwhelming support she received from loved ones.
“It was such a roller-coaster ride,” she says. “Seeing my friends and their support, and how many people cared. This is something I wanted to do and they wanted to see me succeed. They repeatedly helped me fundraise so I could make charity spots and traveled with me to cheer.”
Dr. Kalinsky, like the rest of Renée’s care team, has cheered her on every step of the way.
“What Renée has done is remarkable,” he says. “When we treat patients with metastatic cancer, it is our hope they can maintain a good quality of life and live longer, and to be able to continue the daily activities of living they would like to do. And to watch Renée run marathons has been awe-inspiring. Everyone she has come into contact with here is incredibly impressed.”
This includes Laura Graafland, a clinical nurse practitioner at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia who has worked with Renée for several years. “Watching her has been incredible,” says Graafland, who looked forward to the photos Renée shared of her and her family after each marathon. “She doesn’t let bad news get her down, and somehow puts her positive energy back out into the world in a way that is really inspiring.”
After Renée completed the sixth and final marathon in the majors series in London this spring, her care team at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia wanted to do something special and planned a surprise celebration for her next treatment appointment. When Renée walked in beaming, she was met with balloons, a stereo playing “Eye of the Tiger” — the song her husband plays to pump her up before a run — and her nurses shaking pompoms.
Before beginning infusions that morning, Renée held up her medal. She was thinking of Diane.
“Hopefully,” Renée says, “if she ever has a rough run, Diane will see me as a role model.”