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.

Melissa Theroux, a longtime nuclear medicine technologist at Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging, began running to exercise and carve out time for selfcare, a difficult task when raising two children.  She started with small races and now, as a member of the MGHfC Cancer Center team, will complete her first Boston Marathon this April.

What inspired you to join the 2018 Mass General Marathon Team for Pediatric Hematology Oncology?
I was inspired to run the Boston Marathon for MGHfC's pediatric team after watching the runners training in the Framingham/Ashland area with my daughters. This is an opportunity for me to teach my children about doing good for others. I wanted to do more to support the pediatric patients I see in my role at the hospital.  

 

Is this your first marathon?
This is my first Boston Marathon and first time running for a charity, but my third overall. I ran the Sugarloaf Marathon in 2016 and the Vermont City in 2017.

What will you be thinking about on race day?
On race day, aside from my nerves about running one of the most amazing races in the world, I will be thinking about the patients I raised money for, the family, friends and strangers that helped me raise those funds and how great it will feel to cross that finish line at the completion of this wonderful experience.

What are some lessons you’ve learned from your family and friends affected by cancer and from training for the marathon?
I’ve learned that a cancer diagnosis is not the end. It’s just the beginning. We all should make living a priority and not focus on what could take that life away from you. My grandmother passed away from brain cancer 12 years ago and she didn't have much time, but she fought as hard as she could. I see family and friends overcome hurtles during treatment, get themselves in to remission and end up with recurrence, but all the while staying positive. If they can do that, I can run a few miles to support the smallest of patients at MGH.

 

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.