Local woman to run a virtual marathon to raise money for breast cancer research

Posted at 6:02 AM, Oct 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-26 10:18:34-04

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and for sisters Justine and Lara Gentilini, it marks nearly a year since they lost their mom to triple-negative breast cancer, a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer.

While her mom's fight ended, Justine is hitting the ground running to raise money for breast cancer research.

"I'm going to be running the race on October 30, 2020," Justine Gentilini said. "That actually would've been my mom's 57th birthday."

Justine and her sister Lara were supposed to be running the New York City Marathon together in person in October.

"After that was canceled due to COVID-19, we decided to keep fundraising for triple-negative breast cancer," Justine said.

During a global pandemic, cancer doesn't stop.

"You have to remember that people are affected by this every single day," Justine said.

After losing their mom to triple-negative breast cancer last October, Justine and Lara found a way to honor their mom and raise money for cancer research.

"We came up with the idea of Cookie's Cause," Lara said.

"Triple-negative breast cancer is a rare and more aggressive form of breast cancer which is why the fundraising for research is really important," Justine said.

Kristin Gentilini, nicknamed "Cookie," was an inspiration to her girls and everyone who knew her.

"She was always living each day to the maximum she could live it to which was something really special about her," Justine said.

"I think she was really resilient and had this resolve to live that I've seen in Justine in her training for and preparing for the marathon," Lara said.

Through Cookie's Cause, the money raised will go to Fred's Team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York where Cookie was treated.

"They help raise funds for specific areas of cancer research so we are specifically fundraising for Linda Vahdat and her triple-negative breast cancer research," Justine said.

While running a marathon isn't a first for Justine, the route is familiar.

"I'll be running the City to the Sea route, starting here at Dinosaur Caves Park, running to San Luis and running back here for a total of 26.2 miles," Justine said.

Cookie knew this route, too.

"She's been right here before," Justine said.

In 2018, Cookie watched Justine cross the finish line in the City to the Sea half marathon. Although she'll be doubling the miles this time around, Justine says she'll be able to go the distance.

"With everyone from Cookie's Cause I feel motivated to keep going and keep sharing my story."

For details on how to donate to Cookie's Cause to further fund triple-negative breast cancer research, click here.