Around The Yard: Beth Larcom

Returning to for a fifth season, "Around The Yard: Life As A Harvard Student-Athlete" explores life away from the playing fields for select Harvard student-athletes through their own first-person narrativeFor a full list of blog entries, click here.

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Beth Larcom
Women's Ice Hockey
September 19, 2018

It’s 4:10am on a warm, late August Sunday morning. I’m sleeping in a tent, and my phone buzzes with a text message from my Dad (20 minutes before my alarm is set to go off, I must say) reading, “Time to rise!”. I hear the hum of the dozens of generators powering the stadium-style lights as well as voices yelling instructions, names, and goodbyes. Most people, including myself in any other circumstance, would be quite annoyed with such a brutal wake-up. On this particular morning, though, I can’t help but smile as those familiar “nervous-but-excited” butterflies hit my stomach. All of these feelings have become tradition as part of my family’s annual participation in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC), the largest sports-based fundraiser in the country. Every year, thousands of bike riders gather on the first full weekend in August to span Cape Cod in a 198 mile ride. 100% of dollars raised by PMC riders is donated to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This particular day, I get dressed and gear up to ride nearly 85 miles on my bike from Bourne, MA to Babson, MA as part of the PMC’s one-day Volunteer Ride.

My family’s involvement in the PMC started over 20 years ago, dating back to the year 1998. The fact that my dad chose to ride his first 198-mile bike ride on Cape Cod the summer of that year is no coincidence; 1998 was the year I was born, and also the same year my mom, Liz, was diagnosed and treated for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at Dana-Farber. With her last chemo treatment being just weeks before my birth, my mom often calls me her “miracle baby”, as I was not expected to be born healthy, if at all. This is not only why I am named after her, but also the reason my dad chose to mount his bike that August for his first PMC.

My whole family realizes and greatly appreciates the gravity of the efforts of Dana-Farber’s doctors, nurses, and staff. This is why, for the last 20 years, the Larcom clan (I’m the youngest of six kids, so there are indeed a lot of us) pile into cars and head down to the Cape for PMC weekend. From the time I could barely walk, PMC weekend has always been a highlight of my summer. When I was younger, we would spend the week camping at Nickerson State Park in Brewster, MA and watch as my dad would roll in to the rest stop there on Sunday morning. My dad has always been at the heart of “Team Tie Dye”, the name my hippie, Grateful Dead loving parents gave our family’s PMC team. He rode the full PMC for 19 years before sharing, then handing over the reins to me 4 years ago.           

PMC weekend started at a young age for me as a vacation; I would go to the Cape beaches, camp with my cousins, and frequent the Brewster General Store for bulk candy and Stewart’s Root Beer. Now, though, it has evolved into a weekend of actively working towards PMC’s goal to get “Closer By The Mile” to a cure for cancer. I would not be where I am today without the help of my mom’s doctors and nurses at Dana-Farber, and volunteering for, and riding in, the PMC is my way to give back to them. Even if I have to wake up at 4am to roaring generators and pre-alarm text messages, the PMC will always have a place in my heart, and I look forward to riding for years and years to come.