Monday, March 18, 2013

Q&A with marathon runner Scott Hilt

Scott Hilt, running for Matt, age 19, sarcoma

Scott Hilt, running for Matt, age 19, sarcoma

Q: What is your name?

A: Scott Hilt

Q: Where are you from?

A: I grew up in Westfield, MA and now live in Boston. 

Q: What is your role at Massachusetts General Hospital? 

A: Member of the 2013 Marathon Team

Q: Why did you choose to run the marathon for MassGeneral Hospital for Children?

A: Just like all new parents, my wife Michelle and I view the world differently since our son Harley was born. We immediately started thinking about all of the experiences we would share and memories we would make as a family. Later the next day, I was checking email and read the invitation from Mass General inviting me to join their team and support their cause.  I quickly realized that not every family’s future starts off as bright as ours and that at any moment our son’s health can unexpectedly change. Having those dreams taken away from any family is unimaginable. Therefore I wanted to make a difference by building awareness, raising funds for research and a cure while inspiring and brining hope to children who are currently fighting this disease.

Q: What kind of experience do you have as a runner?

A: The first word that comes to mind when I think about the experience with the Mass General Team is “first class”.  The information packs provided me with all of the tools necessary to ensure my fundraising was a success.  The periodic meetings were informative and provided me with an opportunity to make new friends, coordinate fundraising efforts, and created a sense of TEAM.  The weekly email notification kept me connected and the group long runs made training fun. 

Furthermore, and I feel most important, the Patient Partner Program made this experience personal and therefore, impactful and life changing rather than solely a fundraising event.  Cancer hasn’t affected my life or my family.  Learning about the personal battle my patient partner fought, the type of world class support and treatment  Mass General provided, their victories, and the amazingly positive outlook he and his family kept has been truly inspirational and life changing for me.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to contribute to and make a difference in the fight against pediatric cancer. 

Q: What inspires you as a runner?

A: Completing not only a marathon, but the Boston Marathon, which is something very few people will have the opportunity to experience.  The 26.2 miles of cheering fans along the Boston marathon course.  Having the opportunity to see my patient partner at mile 20 along with the other MassGeneral supporters. 

Q: What has been your most memorable moment preparing for the marathon?

A: Two aspects of preparing for the marathon have been memorable.  The first is meeting my patient partner Matt and his mother Barbara.  My wife Michelle, son Harley and I met Matt and Barb for dinner.  I was amazed by how appreciative they were that I was running for MassGeneral.  They described how the doctors, nurses and staff provided them with the best care in the world.  Matt smiled from ear to ear when he described how local professional sport heroes past and present came to visit him.  They also talked about how Mass General Hospital for Children is one of only 4 hospitals in the country to have a piece of cutting edge treatment technology.  All of those things combined enabled him to be cancer free, allowing him to go to college this Fall and return to life pre-cancer.  They said because of the Mass General marathon team members, patients like Matt are winning the battle against cancer.  Meeting them was inspirational for my family and I because of how strong willed they were and how positive their outlook on life is despite going through such a traumatic experience. 

The other memorable aspect is the overwhelmingly positive response I received during fundraising.  People have been incredibly generous.  A few people said “thank you” for doing this for such a great cause.  Many more told me stories of their loved one’s battles with cancer.  I didn’t realize how many people’s lives are impacted by cancer. 

Q: What have you learned about your patient partner and what makes him special?

A: On March 19th Matt will be celebrating his 19th birthday…cancer free!  Matt, better known as “Swirls” to his friends got that name his freshman year as a member of the cross country team because of his signature long, curly head of hair.  Matt is planning to attend college this Fall and recently visited Merrimack.  Matt is an avid Boston sports fan with the Celtics being his favorite team.   I learned that after a round of surgeries and chemo his cancer returned.  Matt underwent additional surgeries, then radiation followed by another round of chemo which was both physically painful and emotionally draining.  The fact that he has such as positive attitude and outlook on life is inspirational.  Furthermore, in order to follow in his mother’s footsteps as a registered nurse and because of winning his battle with cancer, Matt will pursue a career in medicine. 

Q: What are you most looking forward to about marathon day?

A: The Team bus ride to the starting line, the pre-race Mass General warm-up area, and without a doubt…mile 20 and the crowd of Mass General supporters. 

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

A: I think the pre-race dinner and Patient Partner medal ceremony will be the most emotional moment leading up to the race.  What an unbelievable tribute to the patients…who are the true heroes!

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