Published on September 21, 2022

Marathon Runner

Still Running

In 2017, Karen DiCamillo shared her story with the community. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 and after battling it for seven months, she was back to running and finished the elite Boston Marathon in 4 hours, 57 minutes, 36 seconds.

During the next few years, Karen continued running and even began coaching other survivors through the Montgomery County Road Runners Club and the Ulman Foundation’s Cancer to 5K program. “I didn’t want cancer to affect my running and meeting others in similar circumstances allowed me to share the joy I find in running and help others.”

Then in 2020, she received some heart-wrenching news. The cancer had returned. Once again, Karen turned to the Shady Grove Adventist Aquilino Cancer Center and her doctors, Chitra Rajagopal, MD, and Marie Gurka, MD, for chemotherapy and radiation. “Dr. Rajagopal is so positive and encouraging that for me, starting treatment again was good because it meant I was doing something and moving forward.” Although the risk of cancer recurrence is low, depending on the type of cancer and individual risk factors such as genetics, the risk may be higher in some.

Today, Karen is continuing her treatment and the outlook is positive. Not letting treatment stop her, she continues to run. “I just feel better, physically and mentally, it brings me peace.” She even completed the Boston Marathon again in 2021 and 2022. Now, as she prepares for the next Cancer to 5K with the Ulman Foundation, she is back to coaching others. “Anyone can do this. It’s amazing because at the end, no matter if you ran or walked, you have a sense of accomplishment that you did this wonderful thing.”  

Along with running, Karen says her family and friends help to keep her grounded and in the present. “I try to remember to stay in the moment, to not think about the past and what I could do differently. My husband is so sweet and is my cheerleader, along with my other family and friends all supporting and praying for me.” Her youngest child, who is 10, is another source of strength for her. “He’s still my baby and needs me. My kids help to keep me grounded and focused.”

As she faces whatever is next, Karen is staying positive and running towards the next finish line. To learn more about the Ulman Foundation’s Cancer to 5K program, visit its website

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