Our Common Thread: Mike’s Story

Leanne Yenush

Our Hydrow Athletes are more than just elite athletes. They’re sons and daughters, partners, parents, colleagues and friends. Their workouts are opportunities for them to connect with our at-home rowers in a truly unique way -- ultimately bringing us all closer together. 

This week, Hydrow Athlete Mike Dostal shared an exceptionally emotional part of his life with all of us during his Rock Intervals Row (posted January 21). And while Mike’s story is personal, it’s one that many, many of us identify with -- and one that has inspired us deeply. His theme of finding positivity in the face of challenges and adversity is relevant to all of us. We’re sharing it here so that you can draw inspiration from it, too. 

“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.” Roger Crawford

Mike and Meg Dostal met in Williamstown, MA in 2005, while Mike was coaching the Williams College rowing team and Meg was teaching Spanish at a high school in town. They married in 2008, and began building a life together, welcoming their children Luke (6) and Eva (4) a few years later. 

In 2018, Meg, an avid runner, completed the Martha’s Vineyard Marathon. A few months after the marathon, she had a seizure at work. Within a few days she met with doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) who confirmed she had a malignant brain tumor:  Virtually overnight, the Dostal family’s lives were upended. They immediately took action and determined a treatment plan.

Meg ran the 2018 Martha’s Vineyard Marathon just weeks before being diagnosed with brain cancer.

Two weeks later, Meg underwent a grueling 11-hour surgery to remove the tumor. Though her surgery was successful, Meg now faced a challenging recovery, to be followed by a long and aggressive barrage of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. 

Throughout this journey, Meg, Mike and their family have had moments of heartache and despair -- but there’s been something more. These moments have also granted them an important perspective. It’s been a poignant reminder that everyone is struggling with something. We all face hardship and adversity in our lives; we all have hopes, dreams and aspirations and these challenges threaten to stand in the way of us living our best lives. But the way that we approach these hurdles, and how we tackle them in an effort to still live our best possible lives -- that’s what makes us human, and it’s that humanity that connects us all. That’s Our Common Thread. 

In that spirit, Meg and Mike have created Our Common Thread, a forum for people everywhere to support and inspire one another by sharing personal goals despite the individual obstacles they may be facing. The organization strives to create a supportive community that builds its members up, while inspiring us to dream big and go after those goals that will help us live our best lives and support the weight of the challenges we face.

They’re also working to raise funds for the Pappas Center for NeuroOncology at MGH for the preclinical research of treatments and an eventual cure for oligodendroglioma.

The Dostal family celebrates Mike’s 2nd Place Ranking at the Head of the Charles Regatta this past October.[/caption]

This spring, Meg will return to the Vineyard to complete the half-marathon a mere two years later. What has happened in between these two races has changed everything -- but it’s left Meg, Mike and their family with a resounding sense of hope, and a renewed sense of purpose. 

You can read more about Mike and Meg’s story, or share your own story, on OurCommonThread.org, or on Facebook.