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

Proceeds benefit patients with cancer

Thousands of people have participated in the Lahey Cancer Institute 5K Walk & Run over the last 14 years, raising more than $3 million for cancer research, enhanced programming, 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 Burlington, Peabody, Winchester, Beverly and Gloucester. 

“The Cancer Walk funds have had an enormous impact in helping to improve the quality of life of our patients,” said Paul J. Hesketh, MD, FASCO, director of the Lahey Cancer Institute. “We can minimize the adverse effects of treatment and provide more welcoming and comfortable surroundings for our patients and their families.”

Lahey Hospital & Medical Center has used 5K funds for a number of initiatives, including  a tablet-based screening tool that is offered to patients who come for routine mammograms. The highly regarded Cancer Risk Assessment is a tablet-based software that calculates a woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. The tool can identify women requiring more intensive screening or referral for genetic counseling.

Cancer 5K funds also help support Lahey’s Survivorship Program, which is designed to assist patients during and after their cancer treatments. Experts in oncology, psychology, nutrition, physical therapy and other fields collaborate to treat the patient holistically. 

“The goal of Survivorship is treating the person as a whole and improving their quality of life,” said Krishna Gunturu, MD, director of the Survivorship Program. “We manage their side effects, and build and improve endurance, nutrition, social life, their relations, and we help them get stronger in every aspect.”

Just a short distance up Route 128, the money raised at the 5K also helps patients at the Sophia Gordon Cancer Center at Lahey Medical Center, Peabody. In 2019, a number of initiatives focused on improvements that would make patients more comfortable and help them during treatments. A new visual coaching device that allows patients to watch their breath during certain radiation treatments will help breast cancer patients minimize radiation to the heart. The Cancer Institute also purchased specialized ovens which can make patient-specific immobilization devices. These are used to help support the patient’s body position and minimize movement during radiation treatment. 

Funds from the cancer walk have been used to improve the patient experience in so many ways,” explained Angela Tambini, senior director of Radiation Oncology. Her team has installed a speaker that allows patients to listen to music during radiation planning sessions. Studies have shown that music can have a positive impact on patients’ emotional well-being. 

“I am very fortunate to have the experience to see and appreciate all of these items in action on a daily basis,” Tambini said.

Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s goal for 2020 is to renovate the family waiting room on the inpatient floor and expand and refresh several areas in the Sophia Gordon Cancer Center. Improvements are also planned for the hematology-oncology facility at Lahey Medical Center, Peabody.