Published on October 22nd, 2014
Running For Their Lives, Has Become Her Signature
On Saturday, October 18, St. Luke’s surgeon Marian McDonald, MD, FACS ran in her 18th consecutive WOMEN’S 5K CLASSIC. Held each year in Allentown’s Little Lehigh Parkway, and now in its 22nd year, the 3.1-mile race promotes fitness among women and raises awareness and money for breast cancer, a disease that affects one of every seven women and kills about 40,000 women a year.
As she does each year, Dr. McDonald was ‘carrying’ many of her patients with her during the race… on her shirt back, shirt front, and shirt sleeves — over 50 of her patients, all cancer survivors, who have signed Dr. McDonald’s shirt over the years.
“I run for my patients’ lives and to show support for my patients,” Dr. McDonald says, “to show that I’m strong for my patients and that I’m still here for them — that continuity is so important. My running says, ‘life keeps going’ and that I’m here to sweat for you, to struggle with you, and that I’m here for you every step of the way. Getting to the finish line is an affirmation that we’re all not just still alive, but that we’re all living in health, and happiness, and peace.”
Annually, more than 5,000 women, mostly wearing pink, participate in the local race/walk, with contributions raised going to cancer research, education, prevention, diagnostic equipment, mammograms for uninsured women, and more.
For many years, Dr. McDonald was accompanied on the race by her two daughters, Maria, and Madelene, now both away at college, with Maria playing field hockey at Georgetown, and Madelene playing basketball at Loyola.
Not even a 1997 knee injury sustained waterskiing was able to keep Dr. McDonald out of the annual race — she ran it in ’97 anyway, wearing a thigh-to-ankle brace. “Technically, I walked it that year,” Dr. McDonald notes, “but I still made it all the way for my patients.”
Earlier this month, in a Georgetown University Field Hockey website post on cancer research fundraising, Dr. McDonald’s daughter, Maria, recounted witnessing the impact of her mother’s influence on her cancer patients, and on her…
“The fighters, the survivors, and the warriors of breast cancer go into a battle for their lives, once diagnosed. They proceed on an uphill journey filled with emotionally and physically draining ups and downs. But these fighters do not go into battle alone. My mom, a breast cancer surgeon, jumps into the fight alongside of each of her patients, and together, they strive for the pathway to recovery. I am extremely fortunate to have a mother who sets an example in many ways outside of her career path. However, in regards to Play for a Cure, the example she sets through her daily work could not be more fitting. Growing up, my sister and I would always tag along with our mom in our local breast cancer 5k run. Every year, she would wear a t-shirt signed by all of her breast cancer patients, and she would run with, and for, her survivors. Though over the years, my sister and I could eventually kick her butt in the 5k, the influence she maintained within her patient community never faded.
Getting to see her patients come up to her and thank her, often with tears in their eyes, at this annual celebration of survival is a remarkable thing for her two daughters to witness growing up. While the fighters of breast cancer inspire those around them with their will to recover, I feel blessed to see the other side of the fight; the doctor who jumps into the battle right alongside them.”
– Maria “Mar” McDonald, #3
Dr. Marian McDonald performs general and advanced laparoscopic surgery and cancer surgery, including breast, bowel and thyroid.
She is a Board Certified General Surgeon and active member of the American College of Surgeons, the Society of Surgical Oncology and the American Society of Breast Surgeons.
Dr. McDonald is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University Medical School in Hershey, and completed her internship and residency training at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio. She also completed a fellowship in gastrointestinal surgery at The Lahey Clinic Foundation in Boston, Massachusetts.
Dr. McDonald currently serves as an assistant professor of surgery for Temple University St. Luke’s College of Medicine, and is the Chief of General Surgery for the St. Luke’s University Health Network – Allentown Campus.
She is one of the few female physicians that perform endoscopies in the Greater Lehigh Valley.