When Lauren Chiarello's cancer came back again, her first question was: “Can I still run?”

In the fall of 2007, then 23-year-old Lauren Chiarello moved from her home in South Salem, New York to New York City with two roommates. She was working at a small non-profit and enjoying life in Manhattan. Then she was diagnosed with cancer. Friends wanted to show their support, and two signed up to run their first marathon—the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. “I went out there to cheer them on,” says Chiarello. And when her cancer went into remission in August 2008, she signed up to train and fundraise for her own half marathon in January 2009. Though she was told that a relapse would be uncommon, the weekend of the race, Chiarello felt a lump on her collarbone coming back. “I was pretty devastated," she said, but she ran the race anyway, and then told the people at her new job with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center that she had cancer—again. “My first question was: Can I still run?” says Chiarello. “I was so high off the half marathon—the fundraising and training and sense of community—I didn’t want to give it up.” She did have to pause, however, and the second round of treatment was very intense. “I had high dose chemo and a stem cell transplant,” she says. “So I had to be in isolation for six weeks at the hospital to recover, and I remember just hoping to get through each day.”

posted Monday July 9th