[SWP: Behind the Book] Every Book Has a Story
Written by
Christine Meyer
August 2016
Written by
Christine Meyer
August 2016

When I was in 4th grade, I got a D in math. I felt like a failure. To me, math knowledge equated with "smarts." And, naturally, "smarts" equated with success. At 9 years old, I was doomed to a life without success.

Three years later my seventh grade English teacher read one of my essays to the class. She cried a little at one part. At 12 years old, I knew I was destined to write a book.

Through medical school (I did actually prove those "smarts," after all, and became an internal medicine physician), I could never shake nagging thoughts about this yet-unwritten book... until three decades later, when I figured something out: wanting to write a book is NOT the same as having a story to tell.

My story began on New Year’s Eve 2012. I sat huddled in my bathrobe doing what any self-loathing, depressed person would do on this holiday: scrolling through Facebook. I, once again, felt like a failure. My medical practice was under attack by a beast called cancer. My patients were dying, one after another. I internalized every diagnosis, every death. I was getting a D. Not just at doctoring, but at living.

Somewhere amidst the perfect family photos and crazy New Year's Eve party plans that filled Facebook that night, I saw a post for the Philadelphia Broad Street Run. I had been a runner for years, but again, in my 2012 year of flunking, had stopped doing that, too.

The moment I clicked on that link, I knew I had just taken control of my life. What I wouldn’t know for years was that my click would also impact the lives of thousands of people – and finally, give me my story to tell.

The Longest Mile is about the running team that started out as four friends training to run 10 miles while raising a little money for the American Cancer Society. That “little” team pictured at right — Team CMMD, named for Christine Meyer, MD — now numbers over 1,600 runners, cyclists, walkers, and supporters. Our “few thousand” dollars? Well, it is now over $800,000 raised for the American Cancer Society.

We are also now a registered 501(c)3 charity. Besides supporting large non-governmental cancer researchers like the Wistarr Institute, major treatment centers like the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and other cancer charities like the Get Well Gabby Foundation, we directly support local families struggling with cancer. We have given over $100,000 to local families, and have started an annual $20,000 college scholarship honoring one of our own cancer fighters.

But the real story behind my book goes far beyond the “numbers.” It is a story about the human spirit – our resiliency and our inherent goodness.

Our mission is not only to fight cancer, but to remain a source of positivity in our community. We have put 12,000 pounds of food on the tables of our hungry neighbors through our local food pantry. We have collected coats for the cold, blood for the Red Cross, and gift cards for those struggling financially through disease and disaster.

Our team is not made up of star athletes. On the contrary – many among us had never run a single mile before joining the team. We built a diverse culture, made up of professionals, laborers, stay-at-home moms and single dads. We laugh together and cry together. We celebrate the non-runner that just finished his third marathon, and the brand-new walker that is on a mission to lose a hundred pounds, and we do so with the same vigor.

We run and cycle together in the pitch-black, wee-morning hours, and in the subzero Pennsylvania winters that freeze our eyelashes. Why? Because with every agonizing mile, impossible looking hill, or nearly frozen body part, we are reminded of one thing: CANCER IS HARDER.

Hatred of cancer brought us together. Believing in each other keeps us together.

Sure, I am proud of this book. But more so, I am proud of the story it tells.



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