The Marathon by Kerry Sheeran – True Story About Raising Seriously Ill Child, Triplets and Two More

The Marathon by Kerry Sheeran – True Story About Raising Seriously Ill Child, Triplets and Two More

Raising a seriously ill child can test the good intentions and faith of any couple. Add to this mix, triplets and two other children! This post introduces you to The Marathon by Kerry Sheeran. The Marathon is a true story written by the mother whose skillfully written words draw the reader in their story and in their lives. The reader feels connected to this struggling family and roots for a good ending.

The team at Special Needs Book Review thanks busy mom and author, Kerry Sheeran, for writing to us about her book and deciding to write a guest post about it. Emma, their seriously ill child, was diagnosed with TEF/EA = tracheo-esophageal fistula/esophageal atresia. It is a rare congenital birth defect which affects approximately 1 in 3,500 to 4000 live births. With EA/TEF, a baby is unable to swallow, and may also have trouble breathing.

Emma was a premature baby born with severe complications. She was in the neonatal intensive care unit, NICU, in the Boston’s Children Hospital for four months. Their family life was far from routine! An reviewer wrote, “Excellent! I was sucked in from the first page and couldn’t put it down. Well written, compelling and totally engaging. I felt like I was part of their family, rooting for them, crying with them and celebrating with them.”

Kerry Sheeran’s life experiences have allowed her to connect with many mothers and fathers who have suffered the illness of a child. Her support of patient advocacy and the advancement of prenatal and neonatal care is reflected in her work. As soon as I read her letter, I knew many other parents raising a seriously ill child would find Ms. Sheeran’s book helpful.

“Hi Lorna,

My name is Kerry Sheeran – I am the author of The Marathon, a non-fiction novel based on the true story of our special needs daughter’s turbulent entrance into the world back in 2008.

The book is based on a letter I wrote to my husband the morning as he attempts to run the 2009 Boston Marathon.  The letter breaks down the course’s 26.2 miles and matches each with the struggles our family endured during the previous (sometimes heartbreaking) 15 months.  Uniquely told from two points of view, The Marathon follows a couple’s attempt to save both their child’s life and their dwindling faith.

Packed with raw emotion, honesty and love – our story is about healing, endurance and the power of human connection.  It reveals the innermost thoughts and fears of parents struggling with experiences far beyond their control.”

Guest Post by Kerry Sheeran 



The Marathon by Kerry Sheehan is the true spiritual journey of a mother and father, forced to face their child’s life-threatening medical crisis.

Kerry Sheeran, inspirational author, debuted her excruciatingly honest nonfiction work, The Marathon, on April 2, 2014.  As the novel begins on the morning of the 2009 Boston Marathon, the author’s husband, Tom, comes across an envelope stuffed into his bag. The enclosed letter from his wife matches each of the course’s 26.2 miles with the struggles he and his family have endured during the previous, sometimes heart-breaking, 15 months.

As the reader joins Tom on the famous route from Hopkinton to Copley Square, the letter and the author reveal the family’s gripping journey following the arrival of a daughter born 10 weeks premature, riddled with health complications. The Marathon plunges the reader into the Sheerans’ attempts to save the child’s life and their dwindling faith.

“When my husband told me he was going to train for the marathon, my initial thought was: ‘It’s the most difficult year of our lives, and he’s going to be out running for half of it?’” said Sheeran. “Watching your child cling to his or her life is unimaginably hard. Some people take a dark turn during a crisis, others find God, and some just start running. Our story examines the emotional side of a family in crisis.  If parents are going to find strength through the most difficult days of a child’s illness, they need to know where to look for it.”

Fueled with inspiration, her story exposes the heart and soul behind the race. Humorous, emotionally raw and continually surprising, the novel appeals to parents, athletes, medical professionals, and those coping with the illness of a child.

Sheeran, a supporter of patient advocacy, adds, “Staying strong requires support, endurance, love, and a lot of faith – in God, in physicians and in your own parental instincts.  Discovering this kind of strength can become a beautiful experience — for the parents and the child.”

A portion of the proceeds from The Marathon is donated to Boston Children’s Hospital in support of prenatal and neonatal care.

Why Write This Story?

Sheeran started out with the intent of writing this story for her six children.  “We all want to teach our kids life lessons, but sometimes everything doesn’t sink-in the way we want it to.  My hope was to bring my six kids on the journey most of them were too young to even know they’d already traveled.  Yet as the book took shape, it became clear to me that others might benefit from hearing our story.”

Sheeran does not hold back on her belief that parents sometimes hold each other to an unachievable standard of perfection.  “I wanted to squash that ideal, and reveal the human side of a mother and father facing a crisis.  Navigating through everything was a profound process.  Our epiphanies and awakenings along the way were life-changing.  I knew I needed to share them.”

The best part?  Readers have connected on a deeper level then Sheeran ever imagined.  “Some write to thank me for putting into words everything they weren’t able to -when they faced similar obstacles.  Others tell me they have revisited their ideas about their own spirituality.  A woman wrote me recently to share that she decided to go back to school to become a NICU nurse because our story inspired her to do so.

It’s absolutely incredible!  Running groups, support groups and countless book clubs have gotten together to read it. Hundreds of readers have shared with me The Marathon’s impact on them personally.  I have to admit, I never dreamed our story would touch so many people on so many different levels.  There is comfort in understanding.  It has made every minute of work worth the effort – and then some.”

Excerpts from The Marathon

What was I thinking? he wondered. Am I crazy? Seriously, how has it come to this? Tom was so far in that the term “turning back” wasn’t within the realm of possibility. Not to mention that most of his sponsors were going to want to know how long it took him to finish. So now, not only was it alarming that he’d committed himself to run 26.2 miles, but he also had to do it in a respectable amount of time. And regardless of what he had told people, Tom wanted a good time. His veins pulsated faster and faster. Good, he thought, the adrenaline will carry me through the first ten.

“Do you wanna borrow this, brother?” A bearded man was handing him black chalk. It was custom for runners to write their marathon number on one leg, and their personal inspiration on the other. Having seen this in pictures and on television in years past, Tom looked forward to taking part in this particular ritual.

Gratefully, he accepted the chalk, then pulled the number out of his bag and began to copy “25519” down his left shin. That, he thought, looks cool. And boy was he happy to have that number! He paused. A vision of her dark brown eyes invaded his thoughts. The rest of her face came into focus: her beautiful nose, her piercing dimples. Her delicate beauty consumed him. The scent of her hair somehow filled his nostrils. In an instant, he was relieved of the intense pressures he was feeling only seconds ago. With a swig of emotion he wrote the words “Mighty Emma” down his right shin. That, he thought, looks angelic.

 Considering how many runners were on the bus, it was relatively quiet. Finally, he thought, a chance to open the white envelope. A lump swelled in his throat before he even read one word, as his eyes were drawn to the small picture at the top. A picture taken twelve months earlier when life was a lot different. He began to read:

My Dear Tom,

The marathon is finally here! Today’s run will be painless when measured with the long journey your heart has endured. As you begin each mile, read and reflect on each of the challenges we‘ve been faced with. Once that mile is complete, it might seem effortless in comparison.

He stopped. “Mile One” began the next line, and he wasn’t about to spoil this newfound treasure.


Kerry Sheeran graduated with a BA in English at Villanova University before going on to a career at Money Magazine and The Wall Street Journal International.  In 2002 she married and moved to Rhode Island to begin a family. Following a misdiagnosis in utero, her child was born ten weeks early with a long list of serious health complications.  What happened next was unexpected, life changing, and the basis of her novel, The Marathon.

For more information about The Marathon’s recent success, links, Kerry Sheeran’s mission to give back to other families in need, or to order a personalized/signed copy – please visit her website at

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READ ALSO: Interview Kerry Sheeran Author of The Marathon – Raising a Seriously Ill Child, Triplets and Two More 

Buy The Marathon 

The Marathon is available for download from iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Amazon Kindle, and in several local book stores.

This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.