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.

As a breast cancer survivor, Nancy Niconovich understands how frightening a cancer diagnosis can be. She's taking on the Boston Marathon to help children feeling similar emotions.

What inspired you to join the 'Fighting Kids’ Cancer... One Step at a Time' team?
During my first trip to Boston this summer, I learned it was possible to run in the Boston Marathon for a charity. As soon as I saw the finish line, I got this amazing feeling that I would be able to make this happen, a dream come true! While searching through organizations who receive charity bib numbers through John Hancock, I felt drawn to this the ‘Fighting Kids’ Cancer…One Step at a Time' team. I’m eager to help care for the beautiful children fighting this dreaded disease. I lost a beautiful young neighbor to osteosarcoma and I have 3 friends with children in their families currently battling, one an 8-year-old girl with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer that forms in tissue cells, and two boys with brain tumors. 

Is this your first marathon?
This will be my fourth marathon. I ran my first in 2015 at Walt Disney World and then took on the 2016 Dopey Challenge, a 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon on consecutive days. It’s a total of 48.6 miles in 4 days! Last year, I completed the United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Washington, DC. It was super cold. My hope is Boston’s race day will be warmer.

What will you be thinking about on race day?
On race day, I will be thinking about how grateful and blessed I am to be able to run on this wonderful MGfC team, supporting a cause that is so close to my heart.   

What are some lessons you’ve learned from those affected by cancer and from training for the marathon?
As a breast cancer survivor, I understand how frightening a cancer diagnosis can be. 

I’ve learned how to persevere through adversity, one day at a time. I love how our coach, Dan Fitzgerald, advised us to “protect the next run.” In life and running, we need to pay attention to what our body is telling us. It takes faith and trust as you travel through these life journeys, keeping your eye on the prize!


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.