Monday, March 31, 2014

Q&A with marathon runner Danielle Newell, RN

Image of marathon runner Danielle Newell, and patient partner Douglas, age 5, Brain Tumor
Danielle Newell, RN, running for Douglas, age 5, brain tumor.

Q: What is your name?

A: Danielle Newell

Q: Where are you from?

A: I am from Tewksbury, MA.

Q: What is your role at Massachusetts General Hospital?

A: I am a pediatric registered nurse on Ellison 18.

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

A: I chose to run for MGHfC because for the past eight years as pediatric nurse I have cared for many of the children battling with cancer. I have seen children and families at the most vulnerable time in their lives, and I have delivered children the chemotherapy that will hopefully rid them of cancer. But I also wanted be able to build a relationship with a child and family from a different perspective other than nurse to patient. The patient partner program on the Mass General Marathon Team has given me this unique and rewarding opportunity.

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

A: By the time the marathon is here I will have only been running just under a year. I have always enjoyed being active, but I guess I’m considered a fairly new runner. I still feel strange calling myself that, but I’ll be able to call myself a marathoner soon!

Q: What inspires you as a runner?

A: When I first started running it was for personal reasons. I wanted to become more active and healthy, and I wanted to set goals for myself. As a mother of two young children, running became the one hour out of the day that I truly did something for myself. But when I decided to run the marathon to raise money to help end children’s cancer, my inspiration for running became completely different. While I still do run to keep an active lifestyle, running now has a much greater purpose.

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

A: The most memorable moment for me in preparing for the marathon was the moment I decided to actually do it. I remember receiving the phone call from the Mass General Marathon Team saying I was accepted as a runner. My heart started racing. I was actually going to be running my first half marathon the next day. I remember wanting to scream, “Yes! Of course I accept!” But I needed the weekend to really let it settle that I would be training for the most reputable race in the world. On Monday morning I called bright and early, and my decision to be a marathoner in training was made!

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

A: My patient partner is a five-year-old little boy named Douglas. He has an inoperable brain tumor and is currently receiving chemotherapy treatments at the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Clinic at MGHfC. I have learned that Douglas has a love of fire trucks. He also told me he would like to be the fireman that “gets to spray the hose.” Douglas is an energetic, fun-loving boy. We were friends right away.

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

A: What I am looking forward to most on Marathon Monday is seeing my patient partner Douglas, his family and my family at Mile 20. These past four months of training have been long, hard and so rewarding. If it weren’t for the outpouring of support from the people in my life, I could not have trained for this. Teaming up with Douglas has added a very special dynamic to my marathon experience. It is because of him that I can keep putting one foot in front of the other and not give up during really tough runs. I can’t wait to run through Mile 20 hearing all of the cheers from the Mass General supporters. It will be a moment I will never forget.

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