Two sisters’ journey against cholangiocarcinoma in the Boston Marathon

Feb 24, 2016 | News, Events, Patient Stories

By Matt Carli

You can help the Reid sisters meet their Boston Marathon fundraising goals by donating to Alexandra or Samantha, or by attending one of their upcoming events!

Losing a loved one is one of the worst things we can experience in life. The families of those who have lost their lives to cancer know this fact all too well. But while the loss is painful, it is often what we do with that pain that is most important. For sisters Alexandra and Samantha Reid, this means taking on an incredible athletic challenge in memory of their father- running the historic Boston Marathon in 2016.



The Reid family.

Alexandra and Samantha were just 11 and 14 years old when their father was diagnosed with cancer. At the time they were too young to fully understand, but as they would later learn, their father had developed a rare cancer called cholangiocarcinoma, a cancer of the bile duct that affects about 5,000 Americans annually. There was no effective treatment option available for this particular cancer, and a year later, at the young age of 38, he passed away.

“No one should be told there’s no treatment for what they’re being diagnosed with.”

Fourteen years after their father’s death cholangiocarcinoma still has few treatment options and is extremely under-researched. To help address this need, Samantha and Alexandra have committed to running the Boston Marathon in 2016 to raise money for TargetCancer Foundation, a rare cancer research foundation.

Over the past few decades, enormous progress has been made in cancer treatment as well as in our understanding of the disease, leading to specialized care and better patient outcomes. Unfortunately, many rare cancers have been left behind this trend of improvements, as research time and money are focused on types of cancer that affect the largest amount of people. The lack of attention paid to rare cancers means there often is no effective treatment available, leaving patients and their families in a tragic position with little hope for recovery.



Alexandra and her father.

From their family’s experience with rare cancer, the Reid sisters feel a great deal of compassion for others in the same position.

“We know firsthand what it’s like to have a family member go through the situation where they have no treatment options, so we feel that drive to step up and help in some way.”

This year’s marathon will be the second they have run for charity (and Alexandra’s second run for TargetCancer Foundation), and while running a marathon is no small feat, both view running as a special opportunity.

TargetCancer Foundation was founded in 2009 by Cambridge, MA resident Paul Poth after he was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma at age 38. Today, TargetCancer Foundation continues Paul’s mission by focusing on funding research for rare cancers like cholangiocarcinoma and esophageal cancer. These cancers are not only rare, but also suffer from a lack of funding and basic research tools, and as a result have very poor rates of survival. By addressing these overlooked diseases TargetCancer Foundation seeks to have the maximum impact on the lives of those fighting rare cancers, and ultimately, all cancers.

Since being founded, TargetCancer Foundation has provided over $830,000 in rare cancer research grants, leading to new clinical trials in cholangiocarcinoma and esophageal cancer, and multiple publications in major scientific journals. The proceeds of Alexandra and Samantha’s run will go directly to furthering this important work.

“Our dad was the most fun-loving, caring, generous person I’ve ever met. Running gives us a way to honor him and help others dealing with the same thing. It’s a pretty unbelievable experience to run the marathon and support something so close to us.”

If you would like to support the Reid sisters’ Boston Marathon run, please visit their fundraising pages to make a donation.