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Dr. Prabhu marathons for cancer cure

By Rama K. Ramaswamy

Malini Prabhu, MD, MRCPsych, is a staff psychiatrist at Newton-Wellesley Hospital and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Tufts Medical School. She is running the Boston Marathon to support the "fight against cancer.” On Dr. Prabhu's CrowdRise site, she shares her story and that of her colleague and friend, Marlene Sullivan, a nurse working at the Vernon Cancer Center at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

“This is embarking on a lifetime challenge of running a marathon,” explains Dr. Prabhu. “And to start off, I have the unique opportunity of running the 123rd edition of one of the world’s oldest and famous ones, the Boston Marathon, in April 2019! Running the Boston Marathon has been my dream since I moved to Boston in 2009. I am running this marathon in the memory of my mother, my brother, my close friend, and millions of families around the world who lost their loved ones to cancer. A few months after I moved to Boston, my elder brother, Sridhar, died a few weeks after being diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a highly malignant form of brain tumor. He was an ex-serviceman and the most health-conscious and principled member of our family, who always inspired his siblings, by example, how to lead a healthy and productive life.

“As if this was not bad enough, our family was struck another blow by cancer a few months later that same year, when I lost my beloved mother to ovarian cancer. Growing up, my mom was everything to me. She was one of the strongest women I have ever seen and I was always inspired by her approach to life. She lived a very healthy and simple life and both her parents lived beyond 90 years of age. I had not even considered the possibility that she would be leaving this world at the relatively young age of 65.

“Finally, as a psychiatrist, I have been treating patients with depression and related illnesses following a diagnosis of cancer at our hospital. Due to my own experience dealing with cancers in my family, I can relate to those patients and their family members. I often hear how the lives of patients and their family members comes crashing down after a diagnosis of cancer.

“I believe that the way forward is to find new ways to diagnose cancer early and find targeted, personalized novel treatments like molecular therapies that work. The progress we have made so far has been encouraging, but a lot more needs to be done. I want to support the work of colleagues in our hospital and other institutions around the world that are working on ways to diagnose and treat cancers early. I want to do more for patients and families by raising funds.

“My 15 year-old son and I have raised money in the past by running half marathons. Now, I want to take this to the next level by running the Boston Marathon and showing that we can make a difference in the battle against cancer.”

“Running the Boston Marathon takes training, dedication and courage,” says Medical Director at Mass General Cancer Center at Newton-Wellesley Hospital Lawrence Blaszkowsky, MD. “I am humbled and extremely grateful that Team NWH will raise funds to support care for our patients — who also display incredible strength, dedication and courage during their cancer journey. These funds give our patients at the Mass General Cancer Center at Newton-Wellesley access to life-saving treatments, highly- individualized, compassionate care and a whole host of supportive care services that help them with emotional and spiritual needs during their treatment. Team NWH is a reminder that each one of our patients has an entire team alongside them every step of the way.”

To donate to Dr. Prabhu’s cause or learn more, visit

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