THEN AND NOW: A 10-year-old Pierce, inset, is presented with a medal from her father who ran the Boston Marathon in her honor in 2000. Now 14 years later, Pierce is adding her own medals to the family collection, including one from the recent Boston Athletic Association half marathon.
Leeds Pierce was 10 years old when her father ran the Boston Marathon in her honor as part of the Mass General Marathon Team “Fighting Kids Cancer ... One Step at a Time.”
“My parents have both run for the Mass General Marathon Team,” the now 24-year-old Pierce says. “I always knew I was going to run for this team.” However, it wasn’t until the Boston Marathon bombings that Pierce decided this year was the perfect time to run for the hospital that had done so much for her and for Boston.
As a child, Pierce was diagnosed with an immature teratoma of the ovary, a rare form of ovarian tumor that was so large it weighed 5 pounds. She was diagnosed at MassGeneral Hospital for Children on a Friday and was in surgery to remove the tumor by Saturday. “I was really lucky,” Pierce says. “The tumor was benign, and I never needed to have chemo or radiation therapy.”
Pierce’s memories of that time are filled mostly with fear and confusion, but she also remembers fondly the nurses who cared for her. “They took the time to talk to me and try to explain things when everyone else would only talk to my parents,” she says. One nurse used to have Pierce blow out air as hard as she could just before having her blood drawn to release all the fear and tension – a technique she still uses today.
“Mostly after surgery I remember losing weight and being so weak,” Pierce says. “But now when I run I feel so strong.”
Her parents, both avid marathoners, offer her training and nutritional advice. “I’m the oldest of four sisters and I’m the first to run a marathon,” Pierce says. “It feels like family destiny to me. I always knew I was going to do this.”
Whenever the training becomes overwhelming, Pierce remembers the past. “I think about what happened to me and what MGH gave to me, and it keeps me going.”
Learn more about Pierce at http://www.crowdrise.com/MGH2014BostonMarathon/fundraiser/leedspierce. For more information about this year’s teams visit, www.runformgh.org.
This story is part of a series of articles MGH Hotline will publish about the teams and team members supporting the MGH as part of this year’s Boston Marathon.
Read more articles from the 03/07/14 Hotline issue.