Dr. Annie Im has dedicated her life to fighting cancer, but two years ago, she decided it was time to do even more.
While on one of her usual runs, something she started doing in medical school as a time to reflect, she began to contemplate who was gaining the most from her training.
"I was thinking about all the time and energy that I put in to running, and how it's really all just for my benefit," Im said. "Instead, I wanted to try to think about ways to try to turn this energy into something that would help benefit other people."
Building off that, Im started running for a new purpose. As a doctor who spends her days working to battle various cancers, she now runs marathons doing the same thing in a different manner.
Beginning with the 2012 Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, Im has used her running as a way to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. On Sunday, she will do the same as part of the LLS' Team in Training fundraising program.
A third-year fellow in hematological malignancies (blood cancers) at UPMC, Im understands the importance of the cause for which she will run.
"I know how difficult it can be to get funding for research," she said. "These are two patient populations that we need a lot of ongoing research in. I appreciate all of the dedication that The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has shown for funding research efforts for blood cancers.
"It's really great for me to feel like I can give back to that. There's a lot of great research going on in our acute leukemia program and our stem cell transplant program here."
Set to run in her fourth Pittsburgh Marathon, Im has raised $5,000 for medical research over the past two years, while Team in Training participants have collected more than $1.3 billion.
Cancer research has been and will continue to be dear to Im's work and her heart, something that continues to motivate her as she moves forward with her mission.
"When it's tough to get out of bed in the morning, you just think about the goal, you just think about what you're doing and why you're doing it," she said. "For me, the patients I've known over the years have really inspired me and continue to amaze me every day in what they do and what they accomplish.
"For that, I never want to take running for granted and I never want to take for granted the things patients have taught me about life. I'm lucky to have that kind of inspiration."
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG. First Published May 2, 2013 4:00 AM