Dori Brown died June 7th, 2011 at the age of 43. She battled acute leukemia for four years, having a stem cell transplant that extended her life measurably. Unfortunately, the leukemia came back and she couldn’t get another transplant because she couldn’t get back into remission.
I never met Dori, but we are part of a sisterhood of leukemia and transplant. I came to know Dori through her husband’s blog, runfordori.blogspot.com. Jim wrote about how running helped him cope with Dori’s illness. He ran for Team in Training, raising funds for blood cancer research. He also wrote about his love of good food and wine, his children Kathryn and Will, his dog Pepper and the trials and tribulations of being a man in the 21st century. Jim revealed his frustrations with himself and with life’s challenges. A deeply religious man, he had a faith that was always apparent, but never forced. You could pray for Dori, or not. He wanted that connection, but didn't require it of his readers.
You can say I know Jim better than I knew Dori. But Jim is how I came to know this warm-spirited, big-hearted woman with an amazing smile. Dori liked to hike with her family. She raised money for cancer research. She became a Teaching Fellow after her transplant. I called Dori one day to ask her about the program, which I too had applied for and been accepted into. This is the only time we spoke personally. She gave me good advice, advice that meant more coming from a fellow survivor.
Dori fought the good fight, a fight I well understand. The worst part of the struggle isn’t the nausea, the pain, the fear, the boredom. The worst part is the mental anguish that comes from watching loved ones worry. Leaving this life is hard; leaving your family and friends exquisite torture.
I think about you a lot, my friend, especially as I run. I hope my little effort to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society bears fruit in the future, putting an end to this disease. Your smiling face will be on my race jersey as I make my way through the streets of New York, lighting the way.