By Avonlea Cummings
Hometown Weekly Sports Reporter
Caitlin Panciocco is the daughter of a great father, friend, and well-known member of the Medfield community. Panciocco is the daughter of John Panciocco.
Caitlin’s father had kept Medfield near and dear to his heart throughout his entire life. After growing up in Medfield himself, John Panciocco raised his own family in town and became an even more influential figure with the entire community. As a long time teacher and coach at Medfield High School, he connected with each student he taught and each player he coached throughout the years. Making an impact in every way he could, John put a light in every moment he could to make people feel and have a connection.
In the Summer of 2019, John Panciocco was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Cholangiocarcinoma, a bile duct cancer that currently has no cure or treatment. After a three month battle, Caitlin’s father passed away in August of 2019, leaving his legacy and the meaningful influence he had throughout the entire Medfield community.
In loving memory and honor of her father’s strength in his battle, and to raise awareness of more rare forms of cancer, Caitlin will be running in the 127th Boston Marathon on April 17th.
“My dad was diagnosed with Cholangiocarcinoma and with these rare forms of cancers there is limited research since not as many people are affected. It’s such a heartbreaking feeling when you know your loved one is at the end of the line and there is nothing anyone can do,” said Panciocco. "I’m running so other families don’t have to experience what my family did and to raise money for more rare cancer research with the Target Cancer Foundation.”
Panciocco has been running since sixth grade, being an active member of the Medfield High cross country team and taking leadership as a captain during her senior year last Spring. Now a freshman at UMass Amherst, she has been training for the marathon since January.
Panciocco has taken her father’s strength as her inspiration to take on the Boston Marathon. Just like her father, Panciocco has brought the community together once again to support the Target Cancer Foundation. As part of running the marathon, Caitlin has been raising money for the foundation where all proceeds go into further research on rare forms of cancer.
“I found the Target Cancer Foundation and they do so much for the rare cancer community. It was founded by a man who has sadly passed away from Cholangiocarcinoma and now his wife runs the foundation. All the money I am raising is going directly towards rare cancer research, they work on finding and developing treatments to get patients better. It’s the perfect foundation, they do so much good for the community,” said Panciocco.
Alongside running in memory of her father, Panciocco will also be running in memory of a close family friend who also passed away due to Cholangiocarcinoma.
“Ken worked with my mom at BU and was diagnosed with the same form of cancer as my dad. It is a very quick turnaround once you get the diagnosis. He was an amazing man and helped me a lot as I began looking at colleges,” said Panciocco. “It’s terrible to see when these cancers are labeled as rare, but it has impacted two lives that I’m close to, it truly makes you wonder.”
With her father in memory, as she takes on the challenges of the marathon, Panciocco will embrace the strength given by him. She reflected on one of the biggest pieces of advice her father gave her when she was young.
“There’s a Maya Angelou quote that we would always say ‘People forget what you say, people forget what you do, but people will never forget the way you make them feel’ That is exactly the way my dad lived his life and treated others so well. I think that is one of the reasons why the community has been so supportive of me running in honor of him,”
Panciocco will be running on Monday, April 17th at the Boston Marathon. To support her and her father’s legacy please consider donating to the Target Cancer Foundation as they continue to do research in hopes to find treatment and cures for those with rare forms of cancer. You can donate to the Target Cancer Foundation and support Caitlin by visiting https://www.givengain.com/activist/680189/.
“Every time I feel unmotivated to run, I think back to how my dad fought this for so long. It inspires me every day to go out and work my hardest for him,” said Panciocco.