A little over a year ago, we lost our 12 year old daughter to glioblastoma (brain cancer), sometimes called the "emperor of all cancers." Average life expectancy of this disease is not long. Few survive more than a couple years after diagnosis, but most are taken within months. Our daughter, Madi, passed away 10 months after diagnosis.
After she was rushed into emergency surgery at another Boston hospital, we decided to switch to MGH Pediatric Cancer Center for additional treatment. The team at MGH were confident that they could remove the remaining tumor from her brain (a risky surgery that the original hospital's team refused to do). MGH did exactly what they said they could do and she suffered very few negative side effects afterward. Once the second surgery was complete, she began radiation and chemo treatments. MGH not only boasted top-notch treatment (one of 20 proton therapy centers in the US and experience with the newest immunotherapeutics), but also provided a team of loving and genuinely caring health care professionals who took care of our daughter literally until her very last moments on earth. MGH doctors, nurses, and staff laughed and cried with us, bonded with Madi, spent time with my husband and me, helping us find the most promising and cutting-edge treatment, and even made housecalls when Madi was homebound with the disease.
I was shocked when I realized that - like many other pediatric cancer centers - only about 30% of MGH pediatric oncology's operating budget is covered by the money they bring in. The rest comes from donations. Some of the highlights of Madi's visits to the hospital were the times when child-life specialists, art therapists, or music specialists would come in and create with her. Nearly all the mental health workers involved in Madi's case were subsidized by donations. I feel honored and deeply invested in raising money to support the mission of this organization.
The money will also go towards research that will help develop new innovations that may one day eradicate this stupid disease. You will not meet another group of such knowledgeable, capable, and compassionate people. They gave us months with our daughter that I do not think we would have had without their help and then maximized the ability we had to enjoy that time with her.
I ran the Boston Marathon last year in honor of Madi. I felt like the difficulty of running mirrored what I was feeling emotionally in grieving. In the race, despite my best preparations, I found myself wilting. My months of winter training hadn't prepared me for an unseasonably warm day and I found myself dehydrated and depleted before mile 10. Just like in grieving, I had to pick myself up again and push through, even when it was so hard I didn't think I'd make it. Seeing my predicament, a family member stepped in to run with me for a while, carried my water bottle and helped keep my spirits up (the guy next to me in the finish line photo above). He was an angel to me when I needed help, just like the MGH Pediatric Cancer Center sent us angels during our darkest hours. They helped us keep our spirits up and supported us until we crossed the finish line with our daughter.
Please consider donating - even just a little- to support us and others who may have to walk the path we did. Your small gift will make a huge impact on another family's life. Thank you for your support!