About nine blocks away from the hospital where she received a life-saving liver transplant 23 years ago, a woman from Walton crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday.
Lisa Russell, 32, was chosen to run the marathon as a representative of the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Unit of the Massachusetts General Hospital, a facility she knows all too well. It was there that she received her liver transplant at the age of eight after her own liver suddenly and inexplicably failed. Years later, as a teenager, Lisa was treated for cancer at the same hospital.
Russell said she finished the 26.2-mile race in four hours, 22 minutes and 56 seconds and was joined by the hospital’s head oncologist, Dr. Howard Weinstein, who cared for her as a girl. She raised more than $9,000 for the Pediatric Oncology Unit where she had been treated, she said. This was her first time running a marathon, she said, and it wasn’t easy. The last five miles of the race were a challenge, but the supportive crowd, and her goal, kept her going.
“I tried to just take in the whole atmosphere,” Russell said. “When the race got tough, I was remembering my own medical history, what I’ve been through, why I’m on the team, how I got here and all the children that are still fighting their battles with cancer. The fact that I would see my family and friends at mile 20 kept me going, too.”
Russell’s mother, Candice, said she and her husband, Renwick, of Walton, traveled to Boston to watch their daughter run in the race. Lisa had thought about running the marathon last year, Candice said, but ultimately decided she wasn’t ready. Judging by her time this year, Candice said, Russell would likely have been crossing the finish line when the bombs went off last year. She said the security presence this year was “amazing,” and described the overall atmosphere as “extremely upbeat.” She and her husband were very proud of their daughter, she said.