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Patient Stories

What the Cancer WALK 20th Anniversary Means to Me
By Mark Forziati, spokesperson North Shore Cancer WALK

It means a lot to me that the North Shore Cancer WALK will be held on June 20, 2010. In addition to being the 20th anniversary of the WALK, it will be the 20th anniversary—to the day—of my father’s death. I can’t think of a better way to honor his memory on Father’s Day.

This year’s Cancer WALK will be my 11th. It also will complete a decade-long promise I made to myself in 2000 to raise money for cancer research and treatment. That year marked the 10th anniversary of my father’s death from cancer, and I wanted to start the new millennium by doing what I could to help other patients and their families.

I did that first WALK on my own. As I made my way to the Willows that day, I saw a boy wearing a memorial T-shirt with a photo of him and his dad playing chess. That image really hit home for me. I realized that so many of the people there were just like me, dealing with the loss of a loved one. I knew it was going to be a tough day emotionally, but I also felt a sense of hope and purpose.

I brought my children the following year, and they’ve been walking ever since. Last year, my daughter, Marisa, joined with her classmates at Marblehead High School to organize their own WALK team, Team Z Marblehead. They walked in honor of their principal, John Ziergiebel, who was battling cancer and subsequently succumbed to it. The kids really inspired me. As the WALK chairperson, I’m committed to making this year’s event the most successful yet. One of the things we’ve done is to reach out to other schools throughout the North Shore to engage students and show them how they can make a difference.

When I’m at the Willows this year, I’ll be remembering my father and reflecting on how cancer impacts everyone. It can sneak up on you whether you’re young or old, and it’s a tough opponent. That’s why I want to do everything I can to ensure that everyone who faces cancer has a fighting chance.