I am very excited to be running in the 2019 Boston Marathon. It is my very first time running the Boston Marathon and I am truly honored to have been chosen to be a runner on the Mass General team benefiting the Children’s Pediatric/Oncology clinic. It is an amazing cause which supports kids that are in need of finding a cure for cancer.
As many of you know on March 16, 2011, I lost a good friend, Gary Letourneau Jr.
Gary was the young age 13 1/2 when he was first diagnosed with OsteoSarcoma (bone cancer) in the upper bone of his right arm. He underwent chemotherapy for a year, radiation treatments daily for eight weeks and surgery to remove the diseased bone and replace it with an allograft (which is a donor bone). He was a patient at Mass General Children’s Pediatric/Oncology clinic where he underwent countless procedures and surgeries. In August 2000 he was diagnosed with bone cancer the second time in his left pelvis. Again he underwent very aggressive chemotherapy and a 14 hour surgery to remove the whole left side of his pelvis and his left hip. This surgery left him in a body brace, enduring endless physical therapy. In September of 2006, he was diagnosed with Fibrosarcomo in his left thigh. Two years post-surgery, September 2008, Gary was diagnosed once again with bone cancer, this time it was in the right side of his face, deep inside the sinus cavity and the roof of his mouth. Within months he had massive amounts of radiation to his face, had the most difficult and intricate surgery to remove the diseased bones in his face, spent two straight weeks in the hospital and then started experimental drug treatment because by now it was evident that regular approved drug therapy was not working. June 2009, the doctors found another tumor in Gary's head and it required brain surgery.
By the Fall of 2009, Gary's cancer had returned in his neck on the right side. While that was removed, scans showed that the cancer had spread to Gary's lungs and to his good hip. Every measure to save Gary was taken but after his valiant battle with metastatic cancer in his lungs, he succumbed to the disease on March 16, 2011. Even until the last few days of his life, Gary was asking if there was anything else that could be done for him because he was not finished here on earth yet. Little did G-man know, even once he left us on earth, his presence and his strength would continue to be felt and cherished by all those who were fortunate enough to know him.
Gary Jr. will forever be known throughout Mass General Hospital as the longest active patient at the Pediatric Oncology Clinic. For 17 years he was under the care of Dr. Howard Weinstein and many great MGH nurses as he fought his battle with cancer. They watched him grow and flourish from a 13 year old adolescent to a 30 year old married man. He knew more doctors, nurses, lab techs, CT scan techs, cleaning people, security guards and valet guys than most people would ever know in a hundred years. Everybody at MGH knew who he was!!
No matter where or when, Gary knew how to light up a room. If you ever had the pleasure of meeting Gary, you would know how he never let anyone know that he was sick or in pain. He always thought that no matter how bad it got someone, somewhere was worse off than he was. He was truly the strongest person I have ever known.
I am truly humbled to have been chosen to keep Gary’s legacy alive by running this years Boston Marathon. I run not only in honor of Gary but also for the amazing, and loving family he sadly left behind, Gary Sr., Susan and Joe Letourneau. I hope that I can make them proud despite the fact that my efforts will surely pale in comparison to their son’s.
As I train for this race I know that no matter how hard it gets, Gary will be by my side. And on April 15, 2019 as I make my journey to the finish line I know he will be there, so proud of the difference that we will be able to make with the money we raise.
So please support me by making a donation to find a cure. So that the kids of today and tomorrow can live their life to the fullest as Gary always lived his!!
MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL wrote:
Since 1998, with the partnership of John Hancock, the Mass General Marathon Team Fighting Kids’ Cancer, One Step at a Time has raised over $14 million to support the pediatric hematology-oncology program at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC). Funds raised are directed to cancer care, research, and initiatives that enhance the quality of life for the hospital’s youngest cancer patients.
Thanks in large part to the philanthropic dollars raised by this Marathon Team, MGHfC is advancing cutting-edge research, increasing the number of clinical studies to improve cure rates, and providing the best treatment possible to pediatric cancer patients. MGHfC is also focused on the quality of life of its young patients and their families through the child life program, which utilizes therapeutic play - music and art therapy to help pediatric cancer patients and their families cope emotionally and developmentally with their illnesses.
Each year more patients than ever before are referred to us because we continue to be leaders in transforming cancer care for children.
We are grateful for the hard work of all of our runners and the dedication of their family and friends, as they embark on fundraising and training for the historic 26.2 mile race.