I have had the privilege to care for many pediatric oncology patients in my four years as a resident at MGH. I have seen the many successes and challenges these courageous patients have faced along the way. Funds raised via the marathon will go toward pediatric oncology research, supporting families facing financial difficulties, and providing patients with treatments such as music and massage therapy to mitigate some of the discomforts they experience. These are such important services, and helping to ensure their continuity is a cause close to my heart.
This marathon is meaningful to me in other ways. I was in the ER the day of the bombing and that experience impacted me deeply. I felt powerless in many ways, but I was also so proud of my colleagues for the rapidity of their response and the incredible service they were able to provide to the bombing survivors. I vowed to run the marathon that day to help reclaim the sanctity of this classic Boston tradition.
It is such an honor to have been selected to represent the MGH Pediatric Oncology Team in the marathon. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to run the Boston Marathon, and I am excited to say that this will be my first marathon. As many of you know, I maintain a busy schedule as a resident and I can't think of a better motivation to help me keep up with the training through freezing temperatures.
I hope you will support me as I fundraise for such an important cause. Thank you so much for your help!
With love, Aura
2/17/14 Update: I recently found out that my patient partner is Lizany, a 4-year-old girl who is in remission from leukemia and with whom I share a special story. I have permission from her family to share this story. I first met Lizany's family in the neonatal ICU during my intern year, when I cared for her brother, Junior, who was born extremely premature. Lizany's family only speaks Spanish, and I helped interpret much of the complex medical information that was being conveyed to them. Early one morning, Junior became very ill and needed emergency surgery in the room in which we were caring for him. His parents asked that he be baptized prior to surgery, but the only priest available at that hour did not speak Spanish. I found myself in the most emotionally challenging interpreting situation I have ever experienced, interpreting what was essentially last rites for this tiny infant. The family was understandably beside themselves. Witnessing their pain and fear while participating in their son's care in this very intimate manner left a deep impact on me at a very early point in my training. Junior survived the surgery, and after a long stay in the NICU, he was discharged home with his family, where he continues to thrive.
I next encountered the family several months later duing my intern year, when I admitted Lizany for what was suspected to be a new diagnosis of cancer. Lizany was uncomfortable, with swollen lymph nodes and fevers. Her father grasped that this was a serious situation, but he had not fully understood the medical information that had been conveyed to him. I found myself delivering the news that his daughter had cancer, probably leukemia, and I watched as the information registered. The sight of this father, who had already lived through so much with his son, holding his daughter to his chest while he cried into her hair is one burned into my memory. Lizany had no way of understanding why she was in such discomfort and why her father was so sad. As chemotherapy was initiated over the next few days, Lizany started to feel better. She was admitted a few more times for complications from her treatments and I was able to visit her on those occasions. Lizany completed her treatments and is now in remission and thriving at home.
I have thought about these two children many times during my training. It was an honor to have participated in Lizany's and Junior's care in such a meaningful way. I have always looked back on those experiences as two of the most challenging, frightening, and formative moments of my residency. As I approach the culmination of my training, I'm able to frame these experiences in a different light. Thanks to the quality of care that these children received at Mass General, they survived life-threatening illnesses and are now with their family, just as they should be. It is particularly rewarding to be paired now with Lizany, providing further inspiration to persevere with my training and fundraising. It is such a privilege to run in her honor and to reconnect with such a special, brave family once more.
From MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Since 1998, with the partnership of John Hancock Financial, the Mass General Marathon Team has raised nearly $9 million to support the pediatric hematology-oncology program at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC). Funds raised are directed to cancer care and research initiatives that enhance the quality of life for the hospital’s youngest cancer patients.
MGHfC has put these funds to good use advancing cutting-edge research, increasing the number of clinical studies to improve cure rates and providing the best treatment possible to pediatric cancer patients. But MGHfC is also focused on the quality of life of its young patients and their families. The marathon program also supports child life activities such as art and music therapy and support services for parents and siblings of patients.
We are grateful for the hard work of all of our runners and the dedication of their family and friends as they go through this historic journey.
The 2014 marathon is going to be one of the most historic 26.2 mile runs ever and we are honored to be a part of it. We appreciate your support. MGH Strong!