Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Former Patient Turns Experience into Motivation

On April 16, 2018, 102 runners will participate in the 122nd Boston Marathon on behalf of MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC). 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.

In 1998, Callie McLaughlin was diagnosed with a pineal tumor, a rare brain tumor. She was treated at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, and after two major surgeries was tumor free. She and her family are very thankful for the extraordinary and compassionate care provided by her team of doctors. This year, she’s running the Boston Marathon for MGHfC in appreciation and in hope that she can make a small difference in the lives of children treated here. 

Why did you choose to run the marathon for MassGeneral Hospital for Children? 
Twenty years ago, at the age of four years old, I was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. Following my diagnosis, I had two surgeries at MGHfC and the tumor was removed successfully. My follow up care continues through the pediatric hematology and oncology department. While I was hospitalized, Dr. Howard Weinstein asked my mother, who was running the 1998 Boston Marathon, if she would like to donate her number and run the marathon for Mass General’s pediatric cancer team. She of course agreed, and I had the important role of her patient partner. I remember how strong and accomplished I felt to be a part of the marathon team in 1998, and I am so excited to share that experience with Christina, my patient partner, twenty years later. In some ways I feel being part of this team brings my story full circle.

 

Callie McLaughlin and her patient partner Christina
Callie McLaughlin and her patient partner Christina. Photo courtesy of MGH Photography Department

What kind of experience do you have as a runner? 
I have loved running for quite some time, and have participated in road races for MGHfC and a half marathon, but this is by far the most running I have ever done.

What inspires you as a runner?
I am inspired by the incredible work being done at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, and the strength of each child treated there. I am hoping that through my marathon fundraising, I will make a small difference in the lives of these patients and give back to the Center that has changed my life. Each mile, I am inspired by the doctors that have provided me with such amazing care for the last 20 years, creating a happy ending to my story. It is an incredible opportunity to run with my doctors, Dr. Howard Weinstein, exactly 20 years after my brain tumor diagnosis.

What has been your most memorable moment preparing for the marathon?
My most memorable moment preparing for the marathon was speaking with Christina’s mother, Tara, and learning more about their experience at MGHfC. Christina’s strength, and her family’s support has been such a motivation. Being part of this incredible effort with doctors who provided my family and I invaluable care is very impactful.

What have you learned about your patient partner and what makes her special? 
Christina loves school. She has two brothers, one is her twin, and they are her biggest supporters! She has been so strong throughout the last 3 years of treatment and hasn’t let it hold her back from anything.

What are you most looking forward to about marathon day? 
I am by far most looking forward to seeing Christina and all the other patient partners at mile 20. I think they will provide the push I need to complete the last 6.2 miles, and will be a reminder that they are one of the important reasons I am running.

This story is part of a series that MGH will publish in advance of the 2018 Boston 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.

Back to Top