Christine Carberry left, of Rye, New Hampshire and Sarah Liziewski of Kennebunk, with her dog Nel, are looking to increase the size of the Purple Striders team for the Dana Farber Jimmy Fund Walk on Oct. 2. Both woman lost their husbands to pancreatic cancer and are walking and raising money to help fund research into the disease and for patient care. Tammy Wells photo

KENNEBUNK – A chance meeting between Sarah Liziewski’s daughter Kathryn and Christine Carberry on the bus to the Jimmy Fund Walk back in 2018 led to a conversation, a friendship, and a determined effort to do all they can to raise funds to fight pancreatic cancer.

Sarah, of Kennebunk, and Christine, of Rye, New Hampshire, have something in common – Sarah’s husband Dan  died of  pancreatic cancer in 2013; Christine’s husband Tim died of the disease early in 2018.

Sarah first walked the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk that benefits Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Dan’s memory in 2017. She did the 2018 walk virtually in Portland, but her daughter Kathryn made the trek to Boston, where she and Christine struck up a conversation, and Sarah joined in on the discussion from Portland. Kathryn and Christine walked all 26.2 miles together.

Sarah walked in Portland that year because she had just acquired a puppy, Nel, who could not be left alone for what would have been a very long day in Massachusetts. Had it not been for Nel, she and Kathryn would likely have been sitting together, she said, and Christine and Kathryn might not have struck up a conversation.

Sarah and Christine and others in  the Purple Striders team  have walked the trek since, virtually during the coronavirus pandemic, but will lace up their walking shoes in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and make their way to Copley Square in Boston Oct. 2 to raise money for research and for patient care.

“Dan and Tim’s story had a lot of parallels,” said Christine, who got together with Sarah a few months after walking the 26.2 miles trek with Kathryn. “We hit it off and joined forces.”


The women talked about their late husbands, and about their commitment to raise funds on a recent day at Sarah’s home in Kennebunk, where she lives with Nel and another dog, Piper.

Christine said Dana-Farber Cancer Institute officials told the women they could set up their team to direct funds specifically to pancreatic cancer research and patient care, and the Purple Striders (purple, for pancreatic cancer)  was formed in 2019.

Christine said aside from fundraising, one of the prime reasons they are walking is also to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer, which tends to be diagnosed when it is advanced.

Sarah Liziewski of Kennebunk and Christine Carberry of Rye, New Hampshire have formed the Purple Striders team to raise money for research and patient care for pancreatic cancer. Both women lost their husbands to the disease, and will be walking in the Jimmy Fund Walk later this year in Boston. They noted people can also sign up and walk from home. Courtesy photo

“If we could just catch it quicker, we could really change the course of what it means,” she said.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46,774 people in the U.S. died of pancreatic cancer in 2020, the third highest number after lung cancer, with 136, 084 deaths that year, and colorectal cancer, which resulted in 51,869 deaths.

These days, chemotherapies can be more targeted than when Dan was diagnosed, said Sarah.


“He got the kitchen sink,” of chemo, she said. He gained 15 months, in what she described as a hard-fought battle.

Tim Carberry gained 23 months and played golf 100 times during the year before he passed, Christine said.

Now, they are trying to boost the team to add more members, and more donations for the cause.

“We’ve heard from the researchers that every dollar we raise makes a difference,” said Sarah.

And, they pointed out, people do not have to walk the entire 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Copley Square – they can choose a half marathon from Wellesley, or a 5K from Dana-Farber – or they can walk in their neighborhood, a favorite hiking trail, or on a treadmill at home.

For those who do walk in Boston, there is a feeling of camaraderie, the woman said. It is not a race, and the trek takes much of the day; at the end, walkers all come together at Copley Square.


There are some unique ways people can help boost donations.

Christine is a retired biopharmaceutical consultant who was approached by a former colleague after the 2018 walk, so she said, she offered to provide consultation services  pro bono in exchange for donations to Dana-Farber.

“I have three clients and they all love it,” she said, noting another member of the Purple Striders team provides gardening services under the same model.

Sarah and Christine are co-captains of the Purple Striders. So far, the team has raised more than $20,000 this year. Altogether, $325,000 has been raised over six years.

“We need to get the word out,” said Sarah, a retired nurse who volunteers at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House. During her last day of training for that volunteer gig, Sarah said the group was assigned to visit Room 204 – a familiar room, as it turns out, the one her husband Dan had occupied.

“And I said ‘thank you Dan for bringing me full circle and now I can help other people,'” said Sarah.


“I have had many people tell me that they are inspired by our ability to find something positive in our losses,” she said, speaking of the upcoming walk.  We ‘wage hope’ with every dollar we raise that the future for pancreatic cancer patients can include new discoveries and better treatments.”

To join the Purple Striders, visit

For more information about pancreatic cancer, visit

For more information about the walk, visit

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