Honoring Mother’s Pancreatic Cancer Journey with First-Ever Boston Marathon

For a long time, Jordan Coffman had no interest in running whatsoever. While she was always active with hiking, skiing, and working out, going for a run was never on that list. When the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown began in 2020, Jordan sought other alternatives to stay in shape.

“When the pandemic hit, I was like, well, I guess I can’t go to my SoulCycle or workout classes,” Jordan said with a chuckle. “My husband then said to me, ‘Why don’t you take up running?'”

Jordan started going on one-mile runs. One mile then became three miles. Three turned into five miles. Eventually, Jordan progressed to the point where she was participating in half marathons. Now, Jordan is taking on the 2023 Boston Marathon as a member of Team JAF, but motivated by a much bigger reason than just staying active.

In April of 2022, Jordan was visiting her brother and sister in Seattle, WA, when her cell phone rang. It was her mom, Pam.

“She said, ‘I need to tell you something, and I want you all to be together,'” Jordan recalled. “‘I have cancer.”‘

Having experienced odd back pain and indigestion, Pam went to a local urgent care facility. What they believed to be a kidney stone changed when scans showed a tumor. Pam was soon officially diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.

“Unfortunately, that’s the worst news you could hear,” said Jordan looking back on the phone call. “It was very surreal.”

Pam started treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital within a month after her diagnosis. Her care plan alternates between chemotherapy infusion and a clinical trial every Monday.

Having regularly gone with her mom for her treatment, Jordan described Pam’s beginning as challenging.

“The first couple of months, we would be there for 10 hours,” Jordan said. “It’s a lot of treatment on her body, as well as a lot emotionally.”

The financial toll of cancer also impacted Pam and the family. Pam had to, unfortunately, stop working as an activities coordinator at a nursing home due to her treatment. Fortunately, Jordan, her siblings, assistance from their community, and government aid stepped in to ease those worries and keep the focus on Pam’s treatment.

When Jordan started applying for charities for the Boston Marathon, she discovered the Joe Andruzzi Foundation (JAF) and how JAF assists cancer patients. It immediately became a ‘no-brainer’ for Jordan to apply to JAF’s Boston Marathon team, relating to the daily hardships cancer patients and their families face.

“I just love JAF’s mission and how they serve the community by providing help to those who need it the most,” said Jordan.

Jordan’s training has gone relatively well, with under a month until Marathon Monday. No matter what, Jordan heads out early in the morning to get in her miles, saying she’ll feel ‘groggy’ the whole day if she hadn’t. However, there have been a few times when snowy weather made it challenging for her.

“Getting out there, you realize the snow’s getting in your eyes, and it’s slippery. Some of the roads are paved, [and] some aren’t. If anyone saw me out there, they would be like that chick is crazy,” Jordan said with a laugh.

Jordan shared that currently, Pam is doing well and that her clinical trial has shown remarkable results. Throughout her cancer journey, Pam has remained the joyful, comedic mom Jordan and her family know and love and who always finds life’s bright side.

Along with that, the family has received so much encouragement. Jordan mentioned how people she knew back in high school that she hadn’t talked to in years have reached out to provide their support. When asked how receiving those countless positive messages felt, Jordan said it was an ‘amazing’ feeling.

With logging so many miles in preparation for the marathon, Jordan explained it’s been difficult some mornings to want to head out and run. Whenever she’s needed a boost of motivation, however, Jordan thinks about her mom.

“If she’s getting up to go to treatment and moving every day, then I will, too,” said Jordan. “That’s what makes it all worth it.”

On April 17, Jordan will run the legendary 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston. Her preparation and determination will carry her physically across the finish line on Boylston Street. Still, Jordan’s mother, Pam, will serve as her heart and mind’s inspiration.

Click HERE to learn more about Jordan and Team JAF’s 2023 Boston Marathon team.

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