Jodi Koviach Memorial 5k Run & Walk
When Jodi Koviach was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in 2019, her love of running had to take a backseat. Today, her family and community carry her memory with a memorial 5K.
As with many young people diagnosed with lung cancer, her symptoms appeared long before the diagnosis was even considered. Her doctors thought that she must be premenopausal, depressed, had GI troubles, or anything but lung cancer. When the diagnosis was made, it came as a shock.
“When you first get diagnosed with cancer, you’re sort of drinking from a firehose,” Koviach’s husband, Sanjay Premakumar, said. “You just start trying to take one step in front of the other and get to a point where you have a plan, and you can go forward.”
Cancer had spread to her brain, bones, and the sac around the heart. Koviach had a passion for running, but in the months leading up to and following her diagnosis, it became too difficult to continue. really loved running; that was one of her favorite things to do for a lot of different reasons,” Premakumar said. “It was the place where she would unplug, and it probably was a little bit of a form of therapy.”
Koviach passed in October of 2021 after battling for almost two years. Towards the end of her life, she and her husband discussed the legacy she wanted to leave and how to benefit an organization such as Lung Cancer Initiative. The idea that made the most sense for their family and community was hosting a 5K run.
“It was just very natural for us to think about a way to bring everyone together, doing something she loves,” he said. “When someone passes away, obviously, it’s sad, and there are a lot of those kinds of emotions that you have to deal with. But then again, you also want to be there and have to move forward. You can also laugh and enjoy being with other people that loved her.”
The running group, the Forehead Flyers, that Koviach had been a part of, rallied behind this cause, as well as the community at large. The race became a way to not only memorialize her but also benefit others who might have a similar story.
“Ultimately, the goal is to help raise funds for the person that doesn’t even know they have cancer yet,” Premakumar said. “I’m trying to start to think about the next mom who doesn’t even realize it yet. Hopefully, by doing this, we can make their journey a little bit easier.”
The race has already raised funds and awareness for the Lung Cancer Initiative, benefitting and supporting those dealing with a lung cancer diagnosis. It will be on November 6, 2022, in Durham, NC. This event serves as a way for people to experience the community and friendship that made running special to Koviach.
“This is an opportunity to recognize and remember Jodi, and it’s really nice to know that there are all these other people out there who care,” Premakumar said. “Some people may not even know her, but the fact that they’re coming out in support of the race means they get to learn about her and other people with lung cancer. It builds, to me, these bonds that make us stronger overall.”