On April 16, 2018, 102 runners will participate in the 122nd Boston Marathon on behalf of MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGfC). These individuals support clinical and lab research, Brain Tumor and Long-term survivor programs, child life programs and mental health services that enhance the quality of life for the hospital’s youngest cancer patients. This year marks the 21st anniversary of John Hancock’s partnership with the Mass General Marathon Program, providing Mass General with 100 bib numbers for the race, allowing the hospital to raise more than $13 million.
Together with her sister and father, Jordan Sampson will be running to raise money for the pediatric hematology oncology program at Mass General, a program that has been part of her family's life since her brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor 20 years ago.
Why did you choose to run the marathon for Mass General for Children?
20 years ago, my father crossed the finish of the Boston Marathon for the 1st time as part of the Pediatric Cancer Team. He was running for my brother, Michael who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and given 6 months to live. This year, I was lucky enough to be at the finish line and my heart was filled with warmth and excitement. A month later, my brother celebrated his 21st birthday.
The combination of the two, prompted conversation between myself, father and sister and we committed to running together in 2018. Our family has been plagued by cancer not only once but twice as my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and then again in 2013.
As a family we have grown stronger over the years and prevailed through these circumstances. Running the marathon will not only be a rewarding and humble experience for myself but it will continue to show our fight for our family and those who have endured the wrath of cancer.
What kind of experience do you have as a runner?
Physical fitness has always been a part of my life but running was not something that ever became habitual. This is the most running I have done since high school sports.
What inspires you as a runner?
I am inspired by my brother and his struggle with cancer throughout his childhood as well as dealing with the medical repercussions as he becomes an adult. He underwent 5 years of chemotherapy, endured over 30 surgeries, and countless doctor’s visits. His strength inspires me every day to keep my head up, even when the going gets tough there is always a way through it.
What has been your most memorable moment preparing for the marathon?
I have met so many amazing people along this journey. Throughout training I’ve heard so many inspiring stories from patients, families of patients, victims of the Marathon Bombing and much more. Their stories, strength and courage are what keeps me moving forward one step at a time, one mile at a time.
What are some lessons you’ve learned from your family member affected by cancer and from training for the marathon?
Never give up – my brother is a living hero. If Michael can survive cancer, surgery, various forms of treatment then there is no reason I can’t commit to completing 26.2 miles. My mom is also the strongest person I know. She spent so much time with Michael and making sure he was happy, taking him to doctor’s appointments, researching, fundraising and so much more that I can’t even imagine. My mom is not only a caregiver but also a cancer survivor and her strength and commitment to my family is what has made this journey worth it.
This story is part of a series that MGH will publish in advance of the 2018 marathon featuring the Pediatric Oncology and Emergency Response Teams. In addition, individuals will run for the Miles for Mass General Program, which raises funds for hospital programs that are close to their hearts – including Botswana Oncology Global Outreach, Caring for a Cure, Cystic Fibrosis, Down Syndrome and the Lurie Center for Autism.