By Phoebe Farag Mikhail

Read to the end for an exciting book giveaway!

Christine Meyer, MD started running to fight off postpartum depression, and soon after discovered her dearest aunt had cancer. When she decided she had to run the Philadelphia Broad Street Run, it all came together. She would put together a team to raise money for the American Cancer Society. When she shared the idea with her friends, colleagues, and patients, Team CMMD was born.

The Longest Mile: A Doctor, a Food Fight, and the Footrace that Rallied a Community Against Cancer is the story of how a run to raise research money to fight cancer became much more than one doctor’s effort to put an end to the disease that has claimed too many lives. In riveting detail, Dr. Meyer’s book describes the path her team took from signing up for a run to raising tens of thousands of dollars with their community to support the fight against cancer. Through her story we join her in her admiration and respect for her aunt. We become friends with her friends and join the suspense of finding out which amateur chef won the food fight that raised thousands more dollars for the cause.

Almost every one of us now knows someone who has been affected by cancer, either by surviving it or fighting it to the bitter end. My maternal grandmother died of lung cancer due to second hand smoke. My sister in law died of cancer, leaving behind two daughters, before I ever got the chance to meet her. I have a relative fighting ovarian cancer and another surviving breast cancer. In the face of all this illness and the lack of a complete cure, it’s so easy to feel helpless.

Reading The Longest Mile took me from feeling helpless to feeling empowered, not just because the team raised money for cancer research, but also because this amazing team brought their whole community together for a common goal and succeeded wildly. Consider this passage:

Weeks earlier, on a particularly crazy Monday in the office, right in the middle of patient hours, a cheer suddenly erupted from our front desk. TK had just logged on the team page to see that our fundraising total was just $235 shy of the $10,000 mark. Without wasting a second, I issued a challenge to my team. “All we need is for each of us to raise $5 to hit the $10,000 mark. Can we do it in the next hour?” As would become habitual for my team, not only did they welcome my challenge, they doubled the amount I asked for. It was like a bag of microwave popcorn – the first popped kernel set off an explosion. As soon as one person posted a plea on Facebook, the next one went, and so on and so on. The speed with which these things happened for our team, from raising money to selling tickets to securing silent-auction donations, was attributable to the power of two facts: the spirit of people truly committed to a cause, and the reach of social media.

During a time when social media has been blamed for polarizing people and ripping apart relationships, Christine Meyer’s story reminds us that we can still use social media to build each other up rather than tear each other down. Rather than argue with each other, we can use social media to rally each other for a common cause, using our diversity and differences to build stronger teams instead of creating division.

Since the writing of Dr. Meyer’s book, Team CMMD has gone beyond a group of people signing up for a charity run to a nonprofit organization that conducts numerous activities and events with the aim not only of raising money for cancer research but also for financially helping families affected by cancer, and for scholarship programs in the names of people affected by cancer. The events and activities now go beyond running and food fights to coat drives, blood drives, pancake breakfasts, children’s events, and other forms of community outreach.

You can purchase The Longest Mile book here, and make a donation to Team CMMD and its work to fight cancer here.  As an inspiring, empowering, personal, and readable story about building and strengthening community, The Longest Mile is the Being in Community 2016 Book of the Year. I highly recommend reading it. You won’t be able to put it down, and its energy is infectious. It might inspire you to look around your own community and start running, literally and figuratively, for positive change.

Dr. Christine Meyer is not only the author of The Longest Mile, but a longtime friend of mine. She has graciously offered a giveaway of one signed copy of The Longest Mile to one of my blog readers. To enter the giveaway, comment below on one way you are participating, or plan to participate, in work that builds or improves your local community in some way. Gain a second entry by subscribing to my email list. Opportunities for entry close on November 23, 2016.

This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on those links and decide to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission for your purchase. I only post affiliate links to books that I have read and recommend, and items that I have used and recommend. You are not obligated to make your purchase through my link, but if you do, I appreciate it! I do not receive any commission for donations to Team CMMD. 

(c) Phoebe Farag 2016