Monday, March 31, 2014

Q&A with marathon runner Beth Callahan

Image of marathon runner Beth Callahan, and patient partner Joey, age 22 months, neuroblastoma

Beth Callahan, running for Joey, age 22 months, neuroblastoma

Q: What is your name?

A:  Beth Callahan

Q: Where are you from?

A:  North Attleboro, MA

Q: What is your role at Massachusetts General Hospital?

A: Mother of pediatric cancer patient

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

A: I am honored to have been chosen to represent MassGeneral Hospital for Children as a member of their marathon team. I am running the marathon to recognize and support MGHfC – a hospital that takes outstanding care of its patients and their families. My family witnessed firsthand the incredible work that occurs each day at MGHfC. This is our way of giving back. I am running for those who can’t and wish they could.

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

A: Running has always been an important part of my life. I competed on cross-country and track teams in both high school and college. As an adult, I’ve continued to run recreationally, completing a few 5Ks every once and a while. Running and working out remain important to me and have become my best source of stress relief! This is my first marathon.

Q: What inspires you as a runner?

A: My son Joey inspires me. I think about him at some point on every run, and in those moments the challenge of training for and running a marathon seems so insignificant. The courage and resilience that these children have, who are battling in the biggest fight of their life, inspires me and keeps me going.

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

A: Just days after learning I had been accepted to the Mass General Marathon Team, my husband Chris called from work to tell me he had bought me a treadmill. He worked all weekend to install it with his buddies in our basement. A few weeks later at Christmas time there was a noticeable theme to my gifts – all cold weather running gear! Needless to say, both the treadmill and running gear were vital to staying on course with my training this winter. I could not have gotten to this point without Chris’s constant support and encouragement. We have always been a great team. Our experiences this past year have tested and challenged us, but ultimately strengthened us.

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

A: Joey is a fearless, good-natured little guy. He is always happy and full of life. His smile and contagious laugh bring us endless joy. Joey has gone through more in his short, little life than many people do in a lifetime. He is a fighter. I try to remember on tough days or when little things stress me out that our whole world changed in an instant, and you never know what the future will bring. Make the best of today.

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

A: I can’t wait to experience Marathon Monday from the runner perspective. Having been a spectator on many occasions, I have seen how the crowd rallies behind each runner. Their energy is palpable, and I hope that energy carries me through those last difficult miles. Crossing the finish line will be an amazing moment. I can’t wait to be able to call myself a “marathoner.”

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

A: Our family extends a sincere thank you to the physicians, nurses and staff at MGHfC for the exceptional care they provide each day.

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