The Boston Marathon Is More Than a Race for Carol Chaoui

The mom of four will be running as she fights two stage-four cancers.

Carol Chaoui Running photo

Carol Chaoui. Photo provided

Carol Chaoui, a 52-year-old mother of four living in Wellesley, has been running since she was 13. She runs five days a week, organizes her town Turkey Trot, and helps fitness newbies train for 5Ks. In a few weeks, she’ll compete in her eighth Boston Marathon, which will also be the 15th marathon of her running career.

Sound like a feat? It would be for anyone, but even more so for Chaoui: She’s also fighting two stage-four cancers.

First diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, Chaoui received intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment, as well as a mastectomy. Five years later, on the anniversary of her first diagnosis, she discovered she also had stage-three thyroid cancer. Her doctors believed she was cancer-free until August 2015, when she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, followed by metastatic thyroid cancer.

“Three of my kids were home [when we found out]. They all looked at me and said ‘Does this mean you’re not going to be able to run Boston?,'” Chaoui remembers. “To them, they really associate my good prognosis, my health, and my well-being to the Boston Marathon, and running in general.”

Her children needn’t have worried. Pushing her life-changing diagnosis to the side, Chaoui is, indeed, running Boston.

“I like to challenge myself still,” she says. “If I can challenge myself running and get through, even [through] the long workouts for Boston, it’s good—because I feel like cancer treatments are an ultra-marathon.”

Chaoui will run this year’s race—clad in a Wonder Woman cape, with her husband, Amin, at her side—as a fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where she receives treatments. She’s already raised over $54,000, repeatedly upping her fundraising goal as donations pour in. Now, she’s hoping to reach $65,000 before race day.

While Chaoui admits to some darker moments, especially when she’s alone, she says she focuses on having fun and keeping herself upbeat. Her advice to others is to do the same.

“Especially if you’re going through cancer treatments, surround yourself with positive people, because you need a lot of positive energy,” she says. “Find something that you’re really passionate about: writing, journaling, painting.”

Running seems like a good choice, too.

To donate to Chaoui’s fundraiser, click here

  • Mumbles

    I wish her the best. Sounds like a tough cool lady.

    That said, how did this story get pitched? Did Dana Farber’s PR machine kick in and decide to exploit this woman’s admirable story?

    I hope this lady had a lot more marathons in her, and that next year she runs for a real charity, not one like Dana Farber that pays extravagant salaries to non-medical staff like PR, development, and legal. Seriously. Check out their IRS Form 990s.