Hampden doctor running marathon in honor of family cancer fights

Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 6:09 PM EDT
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HAMPDEN, Maine (WABI) - When facing a cancer diagnosis, sometimes all you can do is put one foot in front of the other to get through each day.

Next month, a local doctor is putting one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles to help strangers fight cancer.

”You never expect that to hit so close to home,” said John Patten, DO.

As a family physician, Dr. Patten of Hampden has stood alongside countless patients as they navigated cancer diagnoses.

Then, in April 2021, the fight came to his own front door.

“I was on my chart checking the results of a CT scan that I had had where they were looking for a blood clot in my lungs because I was having shortness of breath. They didn’t find a blood clot but they found a tumor. I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma,” said Naomi Patten, John’s wife.

Just six months later, John’s sister Julia Cross discovered she had stage 4 breast cancer.

Julia is a marathoner and despite not having run even a mile in decades, John made her a promise.

“In talking with her at the time of her diagnosis, I realized I didn’t have a way to directly connect with her since she lives out on the West Coast. So, I told her, ‘If you beat your cancer I’ll run a marathon with you,’” John said.

Julia is still undergoing treatment, but her doctors gave her the go-ahead to run. So, it’s time for John to hold up his end of the bargain.

They’ll be taking on the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati next month.

“Our motto for our running shirts is going to be ‘Run for your life,’” Patten said.

It’s not just Julia and Naomi’s lives they’ll be running for. John decided to use this race to fundraise for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation.

The non-profit helps families like the Pattens pay household bills while a loved one is treated for cancer.

“I knew I wanted to give back somehow and thinking through options I realized there’s a lot of money that gets raised, and thankfully so, the millions of dollars for cures and treatments and so forth. But I really wanted to find a way to support the families going through it,” John said.

“I thought it was great for the fundraising part. For the running part, I thought he was crazy!” Naomi said with a laugh. “It’s a whole lot easier just to write a check.”

Naomi, who’s now in remission, says she’s proud and grateful for her husband’s efforts.

She’ll be one of more than a dozen family members traveling to Ohio to cheer him and Julia on as they set out to show cancer who’s boss.

“We’re looking forward to crossing the finish line together,” John said.

The Flying Pig Marathon is on May 7.

If you’d like to donate to Dr. Patten’s fundraising efforts and support the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, you can do so here.