Putting One Foot in Front of the Other for a Cause Franklin Resident to Run Boston Marathon for MGH Pediatric Cancer Team
Carolyn Kuehnel is shown here with her “little superhero” Freddie, aged 2 ½, who was helped by the Mass General Hospital’s Pediatric Cancer team. She’s running the Boston Marathon this year in their support. Photo by MGH Photographer Michelle Rose.
Franklin resident Carolyn Kuehnel is running the Boston Marathon, again, but this time, for a cause that’s near and dear to her heart – to benefit the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Pediatric Cancer team that helped her son, Freddie when he was just 10 months old and diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) in April of 2021.
“He is cancer free now, and I’m running in an effort to give back to the clinic team that has taken such good care of him,” says Kuehnel, who also has two older sons, Arthur, 4, and Henry, 6, in addition to the now-2-and-a-half Freddie.
Kuehnel ran the Boston Marathon for the first time for a different charity in April of 2016, with no intention of ever doing it again.
“It was a bucket list thing for me, and it was incredible. I trained hard, I ran smart, and I had the very best time. The weather was perfect, and the day could not have gone better,” says Kuehnel, who saw a sign for MGH team signup one day when she was at the oncology clinic with her son. “At the time, my son was just not stable, so I knew it wasn’t the right time to run. Life was chaotic enough. I kind of kept it at the back of my head, and once he was doing better, the opportunity came about and I just had to jump at,” she says, admitting, “It will be very different from seven years ago. I’ve had three babies since then, and trying to raise three babies and work full time does not make for great training. I might be crawling my way to the finish!”
Kuehnel has no short supply of perseverance, however, something that should help her on Marathon Monday. All that her family has gone through, during COVID-19 to boot, has prepared her to go all the way. What began with a Newton Wellesley ER visit culminated in an admission to MGH and a diagnosis for Freddie on April 15, 2021.
“The only cure was a stem cell transplant,” says Kuehnel, noting that neither her husband, nor her sons, nor she was a match, and that the donor was anonymous. “He had his transplant on August 4th and was in the hospital for eight or nine weeks. It was tough, as we were both still trying to work at the time as our health insurance was through my husband’s job.” Kuehnel, a pediatric psychologist, also runs a practice in Franklin that she did not want to shut down.
“Once he got sent home from the hospital after his transplant, at that point, he basically had no immune system and so all these germs were around. We were encouraged to pull our other sons out of daycare and could not have anyone in the house to help us,” says Kuehnel, likening the experience to the COVID-19 lockdown all over again. “It’s one of those things, I say to people all the time, you don’t have time to process trauma when you’re living it. It’s only when you look back. We just kept putting one foot in front of the other. It’s my perspective now, but it was all worth it, because he got better, and he had time for his body to heal. He’s gotten COVID and he’s fought it; he’s gotten the flu and he’s fought it. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it, and I just want to do whatever I can to give back to this team that helped us so much, not just with my son’s medical care but my husband and I emotionally through this whole thing. We just felt so taken care of.”
Kuehnel also has a great cheer team on Marathon Monday, lauding the support of her husband, and her little sons. “They know Mommy’s training for a marathon, and they know that means I have to run for a very long time,” says Kuehnel.
You can keep apprised of Carolyn’s marathon training here at https://www.instagram.com/onefoot415/ , or visit Carolyn’s fundraising page at https://www.givengain.com/ap/carolyn-kuehnel-raising-funds-for-massachusetts-general-hospital/#timel... .
Carolyn is one of 33 residents of Franklin registered to run the 127th Boston Marathon, which will take place on April 17th, 2023. Other Franklin residents registered at press time include: Katherine Tamsett, Meg Hagen, Christopher Quinn, Kevin Tucceri, Rob Duncan, Riley Fickett, Brock Leiendecker, David Haverty, James Roche, Justin Oconell, Mikhail Salkinov, Leah Meehan, Sarah Mackay-Montville, Ashley Tighe, Jamie Tighe, Brandon Baia, Kevin Ranahan, Brianna Cummings, Dara Oneil, Timothy Oneil, Tiffany O’connor, Rita Carroll, Lisa Caci, Mary Clermont, Megan Plant, Laura Dombroski, Nicole Leslie, Katherine Bogigian, Jesse Medeiros, Michele Grieves, Donald Palladini and Lauren Shank.
For more information on the event, run by the Boston Athletic Association, visit https://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon .