On April 17, 102 runners will participate in the 121st Boston Marathon on behalf of MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC). These individuals support cancer care and research initiatives that enhance the quality of life for the hospital’s youngest cancer patients. This year marks the 20th 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 $12 million.
Michael Diviak, oncology pharmacist of the MGfC outpatient infusion center knows what the hospital’s pediatric oncologists and pediatric infusion nurses do first hand. “Pediatrics is one of our most vulnerable patient populations and they need as much support from advocates as possible,” says Diviak, who will run his third Boston Marathon with the Fighting Kids’ Cancer... One Step at a Time team this April.
What inspired you to join the Fighting Kids’ Cancer... One Step at a Time team?
My inspiration comes from the doctors, the nurses, and the patients themselves. The doctors and nurses that we work with on a daily basis are so passionate about what they do and how they treat each and every one of their patients. The patients and their families have so much strength and courage that it teaches me a little humility making me realize that the small things can be overlooked.
Is this your first marathon? What will you be thinking about on race day?
Race day is always filled with excitement and nerves, even being my third marathon I am still nervous. What really goes through my mind is remembering conversations I have had with people that have encouraged me the last 3-4 months. From my donors telling me I can do it to the nurses in the clinic telling me not worry about it, I got this.
What are some lessons you’ve learned from training for the marathon?
- Sense of community. When living in a metropolitan area it is easy to feel overwhelmed by its face paced nature. When training and running the marathon course for many months you see everyone running for their charities and people coming together to support their runners. There are volunteers manning water stations, runners smiling at each other, and perfect strangers giving each other a push exactly when they think they have nothing left in them.
- To do good, you have to step outside your comfort zone. I have been a recreational runner, never ran a marathon, just did 5k, 10k, and ½ marathons. Never did I ever see myself running a marathon, especially for charity. My first marathon with MGH was 2014, my second was 2015 with MGH. I have stepped outside my comfort zone to train and to fundraise for a cause that is very dear to me. That you can push yourself physically and mentally to really make an impact and to be able to pay it forward.
I really love what MGH stands for I am honored to be part of an amazing team supporting one of our most vulnerable patient populations. Children deserve to be children and not have to worry about being sick, so hopefully for every donation we receive it gets us one step closer to allow all children to be children.
This story is part of a series that MGH will publish in advance of the 2017 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.