Caitlin Sebastian is running Boston for her late husband Ryan

"I run for him. I run for answers. I run for research."


In our “Why I’m Running” series, Boston Marathon runners share what’s inspiring them to make the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston on April 15, 2019. 

Name: Caitlin Sebastian
Age: 29
From: Reading, Massachusetts
Bib #: 25647

This is me, crying as I finished my first and only marathon. I ran the Boston Marathon in 2016 for Dana-Farber after they had just gotten us through the worst year of our lives. My husband, Ryan, had hurt himself playing hockey and discovered he had osteosarcoma (bone cancer). It hadn’t spread. It meant a year of brutal chemo but then about an 80% chance he’d survive. He was strong and tough and up for the challenge. Two months prior, we took a picture holding a sign that read “Ryan’s last chemo!”


I spent the last three miles so incredibly proud of us. Crying. Sobbing. Happy tears. We’d made it through. Nothing could stop us. Almost exactly a year from his initial diagnosis, this marathon wrapped a pretty little bow around his illness.

The next morning, I hobbled out of the elevator at Dana-Farber for his first maintenance scans wearing my stinky marathon hat, hoping someone would notice it.

And just like that, the world struck us down harder than I knew possible. Dozens. Yes, dozens of mets appeared in his lungs, in all four quadrants. Terminal. Zero hope. This will be how you die. But not for a while, so go back to your life while we give you some meds we know sometimes work for some short period of time.

Fourteen months later, I held Ryan in my arms as he died. A smart, hard-working, 29-year-old rocket engineer with a nine-day-old premature son and so much to still give the world.

“We know how to shoot a missile out of thin air with another missile, but they can’t tell me why there’s cancer in my lungs.” — Ryan Sebastian

I run for him. I run for answers. I run for research.


Check out our entire “Why I’m Running” series.


Editor’s note: Entry may have been lightly edited for clarity or grammar.

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