Your Impact: The Lahey Cancer Institute 5K Walk & Run

Proceeds benefit patients with cancer

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Burlington for  the Lahey Cancer Institute 5K Walk & Run over the last 14 years, raising more than $3 million for cancer research, enhanced patient and survivor programs, equipment and services, and more. 

Last year, more than 1,500 participants raised more than $534,000 to benefit patients at Lahey Cancer Institute sites in Beverly, Gloucester, Peabody, Burlington and Winchester.

With the money raised by the Cancer Walk in 2018, the team hired a landscaping company to revamp the entrance to the Cancer Institute site at Beverly Hospital, which is below ground. “This is a population of patients that’s so fragile,” said Karin Leppanen, RN, MS, OCN, nurse manager for cancer services at Beverly and Addison Gilbert hospitals. “The staff wanted to make sure the whole person is cared for.”

Crews planted colorful flowers and bushes to brighten up the path outside the hematology/oncology center. “They chose wonderful perennials and shrubbery that has color almost year-round,” Leppanen said. 

They held a grand opening of the new Healing Garden last spring, and the money raised from the 2019 walk will help maintain it. An independent donor also contributed a bench. Patients can relax there while waiting for their ride home or just getting some fresh air between appointments.

Visitors will notice stones in the garden adorned with words of hope and encouragement. These were gathered by the staff, who give them to patients and their families to decorate. “Cancer may have started this fight, but you will finish it,” one says. And another:  “Believe there is good in the world.” 

“It’s healing,” Leppanen said. “I will see people walking slowly and stopping to read the stones or see the flowers and just enjoying it. It starts their day off pleasantly or it wraps up their visit in a positive way.”

Past Cancer 5K proceeds have also purchased new infusion chairs for Beverly Hospital. For Leppanen, she’s proud that the work her team, Ribbons of Hope, and the other 5K teams do helps so many people. “It’s about the patient,” she said.