Monday, February 24, 2014

Life After Cancer

Sisters Meredith Johnston and Marissa Hudson ran the New York Road Runners Ted Corbitt Classic 15K in December 2013 as part of their Mass General Marathon Team training. 

After eight years in remission, Meredith Johnston and her younger sister Marissa Hudson are running the Boston Marathon with the Mass General Boston Marathon Team, “Fighting Kids’ Cancer ... One Step at a Time,” to show kids that there is life after cancer.

Johnston was 22, and visiting her family in Gloucester, MA when she noticed a golf-ball sized lump on her neck. She never imagined it would be cancer, but her mother – a nurse at the MGH Cancer Center – insisted she see a doctor immediately.

While living in New York, she was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma and given six months of chemotherapy. An athlete, Johnston pledged to do everything she could to beat it. “I told myself this is just something I have to beat,” she says. “All I have to do to win this is sit in the chair and let this medicine help me. I’ve had harder games in my life.”

Johnston found solace on her visits home to her family. She was able to arrange for treatments at the MGH so she could be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. “Meredith has always been a strong role model and it didn’t even factor into my mind that there was anything that could take her down,” Hudson says.

Johnston not only beat it, but ran the Chicago Marathon with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training in time for her last treatment. Since then, Johnston has married and had two children but she continues to run. It wasn’t until the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings that she considered running the Boston Marathon.

“Growing up, Mass General has always been a part of my life,” Johnston says. I knew immediately that I would try and run for the Mass General Boston Marathon Team.”

She wasn’t going to do it alone either. Johnston knew she couldn’t experience the Boston Marathon without her sister and best friend – Marissa Hudson. “I know how much it would mean for her to run for Mass General and there’s no way I would think twice about doing this for her,” says Hudson.

Although the pair lives in different states – Johnston in New York and Hudson in Massachusetts – they use social media and a blog,, to keep their training in sync. “Social media has allowed us to do so much without having to be together,” says Johnston. “We cover all our training runs on the blog. It feels like I have a built in partner keeping me going.”

Hudson, who doesn’t consider herself a runner, says she’s still nervous about the marathon but it’s worth it to be there for her sister and the pediatric patients they’re representing.

“We want to show there is life after cancer,” she says.

For more information on Johnston and Hudson or to donate, visit their marathon team pages at and Learn more about the marathon team at

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