Summer is here, and time for my annual fund-raiser, the Pan-Mass Challenge,
the 190-mile bike ride to
raise money for the Jimmy Fund and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. This is my 10th PMC, and I want
to aim higher this year. My goal is to raise $10,000, and to help reach that goal, I am personally pledging
When I started riding the PMC back in 1989, it was a way to turn my
hobby of cycling into something that
helped others. The choice of the Jimmy Fund was somewhat arbitrary - I followed in the “tire-tracks” of
John Kowaleski, a fellow cyclist who has inspired and coached me over the years. Since then my family
has been directly affected by cancer.
I’d like to share with you the story of Elise, our daughter’s best friend
in pre-school. Elise developed
Wilm’s tumor, a childhood cancer, in the summer of 1995, just before she was supposed to start
kindergarten. She was rushed into surgery to have the tumor removed, and then her family decided to
move her to the Jimmy Fund Clinic (JFC).
Her mother told me how the treatment she received helped them through
the experience. “The treatment
was patient centered. The JFC treated the patient, not just the disease. They involved the entire family,
with a unique response, and no set script to follow. The JFC wanted what was best for the child and
Another important aspect was the range of services provided. “Our
main contact was an Oncology
Fellow. He was the face who represented the JFC, the liason for all services who communicated with us
about Elise’s care.” The care extended beyond just curing the cancer. Every week Elise saw a therapist
to help her deal with all the emotions of a 5-year-old whose life was turned upside down. “Elise was very
angry for a period, and with the therapist she talked about blowing up the hospital, and even blowing the
clothes off the doctor, but never blowing up the drugs." Therapy was also available for her family
memberswho were strongly affected by Elise’s illness.
Elise’s mother said that the JFC also provided an additional level of
support by encouraging families of
the patients to talk with other families. “Other hospitals kept us separate, but the JFC encouraged us to
form bonds with the many families at the clinic. We became close to several families. This became an
important resource to us.”
“The JFC and especially our Oncology Fellow connected with us as a person,
not just as a doctor. The
clinic provided the technology to beat the cancer plus the patient-centered care. At times, the whole
experience was very overwhelming, but we never looked back, never had second thoughts about our
choice of where to take Elise for treatment.
“Sometimes mothers whose children are undergoing treatment, have to
quit their jobs to stay with their
child. As a result, they lose their insurance and have to go on Medicare. The money raised by the
Jimmy Fund allows the children to continue treatment” concluded her mother.
Today, Elise is a happy, healthy kid. She is starting summer vacation after completing first grade.
Thank you for your help,
With the help of many donors, I raised almost $10,000 in 1998 for the Jimmy Fund. Thanks for your support!
Return to Chris Spear's PMC page