I am very excited to be running the 2019 Boston Marathon on Mass General’s Pediatric Cancer Team. Growing up I had always aspired to be an Oncology nurse as I looked up to several nurses in my family working in the specialty. Oncology had always been an important area to my family after my Dad’s brother, Johnny, passed away from Leukemia at the age of 12. Johnny’s eyes were donated to organ donation when he died as a way for my grandparents to have a small piece of him continue to live on. Running this marathon is another way to help my Nana keep a part of him alive and allow his story to live on. Treatment options were much more limited back then, leaving my grandparents helpless with this life shattering diagnosis. In the last 40 years, the survival rate for children’s cancer has increased from 10% to 90% due to all the life saving research that has taken place since then. However, 60% of children who survive their cancer still suffer cataclysmic effects later in life such as secondary cancers from the treatment that cured their initial cancer and infertility. This is why continuing to fund research is so imperative.
Cancer care continued to further become an area I felt passionate about while I was in college volunteering at Camp Sunshine with my cousin, another nursing student, during the pediatric hematology/oncology week. We were inspired by my aunt, a pediatric Oncology nurse, who had also spent summers volunteering at the camp when she was our age. Camp Sunshine was a place for children with cancer and their families to find support alongside others fighting battles of similar circumstance. While speaking with some of the kids’ parents at camp, one parent shared experiences of running the Boston Marathon for Mass General on the Pediatric Cancer team. The humbling strength these families displayed had inspired the goal of mine to one day run the marathon for their cause.
By my junior year of college, I had lost my second aunt to cancer after both of their hard fought battles to the disease had reached their unfortunate denouement. I wanted to give back to other families experiencing similar heartache and started working at Mass General as a Student PCA on one of the Cancer Care Units. Working as a student at MGH confirmed my passion for the dynamic oncology healthcare setting. After graduating from Curry College this past May, I transitioned from PCA to RN at Mass General and started working as a new grad nurse in the Oncology Nurse Residency.
Emily is my patient partner at Mass General that I will be running in honor of. She is a beautiful one year old currently battling Stage IV neuroblastoma and is undergoing chemotherapy for the next 12-14 months at MGH. She comes from the sweetest family that is so thankful for all of the prayers and kind thoughts everyone has sent. A huge thank you to all of the money we have already raised towards research and all the donations/cards sent directly to the Ferritin family. She received some exciting news this week and will no longer need to receive a stem cell transplant! Coming from Emily’s mom, “the power of prayer is amazing-please keep them coming as we still have a long road ahead! 🙏🏼”
These pragmatic and eye opening experiences from Camp Sunshine and nursing have allowed me to meet the kindest people of the most heartening disposition. I am so thankful to be able to run this year for a cause that I have grown to hold so close to my heart. All donations go towards research in hopes that one day no other parents will have to suffer the loss of a child from cancer like my Nana did.