The spark of inspiration

My dear friend and colleague Meg Zweiback was an incredibly talented clinician, a brilliant mind, a truly wonderful human. She was magnificent at calling you out when you needed it (though not always when you wanted it…which is what made her a truly special friend).

Meg had spent years listening to me complain about the injustice of the inequity of pain care. She would patiently tolerate my rants about how too few providers and parents and actually understand how pain really works or how to effectively treat it. She shared my frustration about how this creates so much unnecessary trauma and suffering.

We often talked about the need for prevention because so much of the work we were both doing as medical providers was cleaning up the aftermath of avoidable trauma.

A challenge made…and accepted.

Meg never was one to pull any punches. She had this incredible knack for picking her moment, and delivering a powerful line that could bring you to your knees. She had an almost supernatural ability to call you out in the most loving way.

When I decided to move to Denver from the Bay Area with my family, I left my full time work at Stanford. Meg looked at me and said, “So…are you going to do what you are supposed to do, or are you going to get too busy again?”


But as usual, she was right. The gauntlet had been thrown. I needed to stop complaining and start DOING. And in that challenge, the journey of the Foundation from an idea to a reality started in earnest.

A moment of clarity.

Shortly after her challenge to me, we were all devastated to learn that Meg had cancer. Even though I had moved several states away, I would fly out for work trips and stay with her while she was going through treatment.

At that time, we were a nameless entity, an idea that was taking shape over dinner table conversations and cups of tea. Part of that development process was trying to figure out a name. We must have gone through a thousand in our efforts to find a good one, but nothing ever seemed right. It just didn’t fit.

One very hard afternoon when I happened to be visiting, Meg got the call that the latest round of treatment had failed. There was nothing more that could be done for her. We were all gutted.

A few days later I headed to Malaysia for a pain conference, with the news of Meg heavy on my heart. I was walking down a busy street in Kuala Lumpur when the idea hit me: our frustrating search for a name was over. It suddenly seemed so obvious.

We were meant to be the Meg Foundation.

Honoring Meg

Meg spent her life dedicated to helping kids and families. It could not be more appropriate to name our organization after a woman of action, a massive dose of inspiration, and the kind of person who pushes those around her to be a better version of themselves. The kind of person whose faith in you carries you to places you never thought possible.

It was perhaps my greatest honor to get to tell her before she passed that we were going to do all we can to carry on her legacy of bravery, hope, and service to a greater good. I’ve felt her presence a million times along this journey, and I can only hope that continues.

I have no doubt she’d say we are making her proud.

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About the Author

Dr. Jody Thomas is a licensed clinical psychologist, and specialist in pediatric medical illness and trauma. A well-known expert in pediatric pain who teaches internationally on the subject, she is also a founder and the former Clinical Director of the Packard Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Center at Stanford, and a former Assistant Professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Though she now lives in Denver, CO, she still serves as Adjunct Faculty for Stanford, providing supervision and teaching. As a consultant for the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, she directs projects on the integration and innovation of pain management using tech-based intervention. Her passion for bringing together the power of medical science, technology and design to transform the way we think about kids and pain led her to her current focus but it’s her role as a mom of two that solidified her path in creating the Meg Foundation.