Fulfilling the dreams of young adult patients with cancer
Fulfilling the dreams and wishes of young adult patients who
can not be granted within the scope of traditional medical care.

Patient Vignettes

Genevieve Mason, MSW, LICSW
Breast Oncology Disease Center
Patient: Kristin

   

I am writing to you now regarding another young woman who is looking forward to traveling to Orlando where she will visit Disney World, Epcot and the other parks with a good friend. Ali was diagnosed with Stage II Breast Cancer at age 22. She has completed months of rigorous chemotherapy. This generous gift in honor of your son, Tim, has given Ali something to look forward to as she was going through treatment and before she has a mastectomy. This experience will be a delightful distraction from the Cancer world, where she can just have fun and forget all her troubles!

Thank you so much for providing this opportunity. As I have said before, this is truly a gift of love that keeps giving. Thank you again for this precious contribution to the young adults in our care.

Kristen is a lovely 26 year old woman who works as a teacher. She lives with her boyfriend and wanted a way to celebrate the end of the most intense part of her chemotherapy. Her boyfriend and she were able to enjoy a relaxing weekend at the Mount Washington Hotel in New Hampshire. They have been dealing with adjusting to new therapy and treatment and also dealing with personal issues with the family as well. This was such a boost to Kristen's morale and without the Tim's Fund this would not have been possible.

Sarah Murphy, MSW, LICSW
Sarcoma Disease Center
(formerly Gastrointestinal Oncology & Palliative Care)
Patient: Tarik

   

Tarik is a sweet natured, soft-spoken, handsome 22 y.o. man, who was diagnosed at DFCI with chondrosarcoma with metastasis to his lungs, just a year after emigrating to the U.S from Uganda with his family. His mother, Miriam, had just begun nursing school, while working as a nurse's aide in a local hospital. Tarik did extremely well medically with exceptional family support, but ultimately he required an enormous surgery called a hemipelvectomy in order to stabilize his disease. The surgery saved his life, but the procedure also robbed Tarik of his ability to walk. As for anyone, this posed a tremendous loss. Prior to becoming ill, Tarik was training for the Boston Marathon. As a long-time distance runner he relished the thought of participating as a new Bostonian. He had also just been accepted at the Mass. College of Pharmacy. The diagnosis and treatment had not been in his plans.

My job in his care at DFCI has been to offer emotional support to Tarik and his family through all of the ups and downs. I have helped him reflect on his many wonderful qualities, attributes and strengths. Even with all the other losses he has had to face, these qualities are what a disease or procedure cannot rob from him. He adores his younger sister, Marta, and always has the energy to tease her. He has become a huge Red Sox fan and was transfixed by watching his new team win the world series. One of Tarik's recent bright days was due to Tim's fund. Tarik could not believe, initially, that there was a fund devoted to helping him do/or get something fun, something that would make his quality of life better. I told Tarik a bit about Tim and included their mutual love for the Sox. Tarik said, "Tim sounds like a nice person and he had a good idea." Tarik decided to get a laptop with his grant from the fund. He explained that he would be better able to keep in touch with his friends/family in Uganda.

When I next saw Tarik with computer in hand he said, "Is it awesome or what?" I though how "awesome" it was for this incredibly sweet young guy to feel normal, and happy and not so isolated. I also thought of another thoughtful and insightful young guy named Tim who had the vision to do something.

Nancy Diperna, MSW, LICSW
Neuro-Oncology Disease Center
Patient: Louise

   

Approximately a year ago, I was able to fill the request for a plane ticket home for a young female college student. My patient, Louise, a shy and kind member of the brain tumor support group, had come all the way from a small island on Hawaii to attend college at Boston University. No sooner did she begin her first semester far from home and family, than she developed terrible headaches that sent her to the school infirmary. They had the presence of mind to send her for a neurology check-up at Brigham and Women's where she was found to have a brain tumor. This young woman underwent surgery and follow-up treatment for the physical disabilities that resulted from the tumor and surgery. She missed much of her first year of school as well as the important components of social adaptation.

Louise's family had to spend a great deal of extra money on her medical care and on accompanying her through this difficult time by unexpectedly spending time away from home and jobs on their island. It depleted an already small bank account for them. When the patient recovered and attended school regularly she needed financial help to go back home for the first time since coming to Boston, to enable her to see her family and to thank the many well-wishers who supported her and her family from afar. Louise expressed incredible gratitude for the plane ticket and thanked us by bringing back special Hawaiian cookies.

Reuniting a Young Man With His Beloved Dog

   

A patient in his early twenties had been through multiple chemotherapy and radiation treatments when he learned he would have to undergo surgery. Throughout this long and difficult time, the young man's pet dog provided a symbol of hope and a source of comfort. During the patient's treatment, his dog had been staying with his family on the west coast of the United States who sent him pictures and videos every day. With yet another challenge in front of him, the young man's one and only wish was to spend time with his dog, but the cost of the flight was prohibitive to his family. Thanks to your fund, the family brought the dog to Boston for a visit, lifting the young man's spirits immensely.

Gift Cards Ease the Financial Burden on Young Families

   

A young woman in her mid-20's and her husband, who have three young children, were struggling financially since she had to take a leave of absence from her job in order to receive treatment at Dana-Farber. The family lives in low-income housing and her parents, who had been caring for the children during her treatment, recently moved. With the holidays approaching, the young couple most wanted to give their children Christmas presents. Gift cards to Best Buy provided through your fund allowed them to fulfill that wish.

   

A young single mom with two small children was being treated for her advanced cancer. Having had to reduce her work hours, she was struggling to address the needs of her children, and the holiday season added to her anxiety and stress. Gift cards to Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, and Stop & Shop provided through your fund helped this mother give her children presents on Christmas.

   

A young mother relocated to Boston for treatment at Dana-Farber, accompanied by her beautiful 3-year-old daughter. During treatment, the patient's parents, who lived in the area, were caring for both their daughter and granddaughter, but the family's financial burdens increased as the patient's cancer progressed. With the help of your fund, the family received gift cards to Old Navy and Stop & Shop to help with food and clothing expenses.

   

About a year ago, a women in her early twenties came to the United States seeking better opportunities for herself and to provide for her family back home. Soon after she began working, she was diagnosed with cancer. Since that time, the cancer progressed and treatments have left her fatigued. She is eager to return to work because her family is struggling to pay bills, although her doctors have told her she needs to wait. Worried about the financial burden, she has contemplated stopping treatment. Although her disease is not curable, the family is praying for a miracle. Thanks to your fund, the young woman received gift cards to Wal-Mart to fulfill her wish to give back to her family.

   

A college student and her husband returned to the east coast after her cancer diagnosis. She is responding well to treatment and is hopeful she will return to college soon. At present, the couple is living with her parents, who have been tremendously supportive emotionally and financially. As the patient has not been able to work, and her husband recently lost his job, the financial burden on the extended family has taken its toll. To help this family with basic living expenses, gift cards to Target were provided through your fund.

Simple Joys in Life: Movies, Music, Sports & Friends

   

After many difficult treatments, a 28 year-old mother was facing a long recovery period. Finances for her and her husband have been tight ever since her diagnosis and she wanted to spend time with her toddler during her recovery. Thanks to your fund, she received an iPad, which gave her and her child the opportunity to watch movies and play games.

   

A recently diagnosed man in his early 20's was facing a lengthy hospital stay. Music often helped him to relax and to block out the sounds of the hospital. Thanks to your fund, he received Dr. Dre Beats Headphones making his stay in the hospital easier.

   

After a college student's cancer recurred, she was faced with a lengthy hospital stay. Her family had limited financial resources. To bring her closer to her family and friends, your fund provided for the purchase of an iPad.

   

A recently diagnosed 20 year-old Atlanta Hawks fan has been away from family and friends as she undergoes treatment. When her care team learned that the Hawks were playing the Boston Celtics, your fund helped the family to purchase two tickets to the game, which was incredibly exciting, and a welcome distraction from the difficulties of treatment.

23-Year-Old Patient

   

I would like to thank everyone that is a part of this awesome foundation for their generous gift to me. The $350 prepaid Visa gift card allowed me to purchase a much needed new cell phone. I have wanted an iPhone5 since I was diagnosed. Since my diagnoses I have had to spend long days at Dana Farber. Some days from 6am - 6pm for testing. The iPhone keeps me occupied during these days and gives my mind a rest while I am here. After receiving the gift card I found out more information about the foundation and more about Timothy Roberts. As I am only 23 years old, and am battling this disease and have had a positive outlook on the situation it made me think more about how I wish I could have met Timothy. I see that he was an avid fisherman. I also use the outdoors to clear my mind and put my worries at ease, it was very cool to get a gift from a foundation from someone who seemed very similar to me. I also plan to wear the hat that was enclosed as my new lucky fishing hat to remember how thankful I am for the people that support me in my battle. I am very thankful to everyone who made this gift possible and thank you all very much for all your hard work and I hope you know how many patients lives you impact with your generous gifts.

24-Year-Old Patient

   

A 24-year-old married patient had a recurrence of his cancer, having been married less than a year. The patient's wife wanted to make his birthday very special for him. He is not working due to his illness and receiving Disability. The wife is not able to work because she is caring for the patient, so they are on a very tight budget. The patient had wanted an iTouch for a long time to be able to use all of the fun applications. His wife was able to purchase it for him, thanks to the Tim Roberts fund. The patient was overwhelmed by this generosity.

22-Year-Old Patient

   

A 22-year-old patient was very depressed and struggling with his cancer diagnosis and not being able to spend time with his friends as a "normal" young adult. He loves sports and was overjoyed to learn that he could go to a Bruins game with a friend, thanks to the Tim Roberts Fund.

19-Year-Old Patient

   

A 19-year-old patient was coming from the Midwest with his mother for a bone marrow transplant. Back home he is an ROTC student, having just been accepted into an accelerated academic school program. He also is a basketball coach and referee. He learned of his cancer diagnosis when having his routine physical in preparation for his ROTC duty. The patient had to leave everything behind to come for a transplant, which would then keep him in isolation for one year afterwards; school and his sports activities all would have to be put on hold. The patient was very excited to learn that, thanks to the Tim Roberts fund, he could go to a Celtics game with his mother, the day before he would be admitted for his transplant. The Tim Roberts Fund also paid for the cab ride to and from the game (since the patient was too sick to take public transportation).

29-Year-Old Mother

   

A 29-year-old mother of a 3-year old daughter and 6-month old son had a recurrence of her cancer, which is now metastatic. She could not work due to the side effects of her treatment. Her prognosis is poor and she finds it difficult to stay in touch with her family and friends - talking on the phone feels exhausting and overwhelming. The Tim Roberts funds allowed this patient to purchase a Netbook laptop computer for her to be able to email with her friends and family.

25-Year-Old Patient

   

A 25-year-old patient learned that she had cancer during the actual birth of her daughter, who is now two months old. The patient had to undergo treatment immediately after giving birth; she lost so much weight that nothing fit her - she couldn't wear any of her maternity clothes or even her regular clothes. Thanks to the Tim Roberts fund, this patient was able to shop for new clothing. This gift was very healing for the patient - purchasing new clothes helped her to begin her "new" life post-baby and post-cancer diagnosis. She was so happy to have this opportunity and said "I suppose I should spoil myself;" her husband was all for it!

31-Year-Old Patient

   

A 31-year-old patient lives with her 3 children as a single mother and feels isolated; all of her friends and family live out-of-state. The Tim Roberts Fund paid for a Netbook laptop computer to help her communicate with friends & family and help her pass the time. She cannot afford one on her own as she is receiving Welfare (DTA) benefits only. She faces many months more of treatment and cannot work. The Netbook truly was a bright spot in her difficult and overwhelming circumstances.

30-Year-Old Patient

   

A 30-year-old patient has two children and his wife is the family's only source of income - which barely covers their rent. They receive help from community members, but financial circumstances are very difficult. The patient travels back and forth from Rhode Island daily for treatment. The Tim Roberts fund paid for a portable DVD player for his family when they are traveling back and forth; the kids can watch movies in the car and then they as a family can watch together when they are waiting for the patient's appointments. The patient's entire face lit up when he learned about the Tim Roberts fund and the fact that he could receive such a gift.

21-Year-Old Patient

   

A 21-year-old patient had recently graduated from college and was beginning a graduate degree program when she received her cancer diagnosis. She needed to leave school to undergo treatment and felt frustrated and fearful at the possibility of her life being cut short. The patient was grateful for the Tim Roberts fund which provided her with spending money to have a day out with her mom to go shopping when she felt well enough.

27-Year-Old Patient

   

A 27-year-old patient recently had his bike stolen, which was his main source of both entertainment and transportation. The patient enjoys building bikes, and the Tim Roberts fund allowed him to purchase bike parts to build himself a new bicycle; this turned an awful situation into a wonderful opportunity to bring back what the patient had lost and for him to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment during a difficult time.

17-Year-Old Patient

   

A 17-year-old patient loves soccer, and his parents say that the sport helps him stay healthy and improves his self-esteem. Soccer also provides him with valuable peer interactions and helps him to keep his mind off of cancer. The patient has major challenges academically due to his cancer treatment, so soccer provides a level playing field for him and his friends. The Tim Roberts fund paid for a week of soccer camp for this patient so that he could hone his skills and meet new kids who also love soccer.

20-Year-Old Patient

   

A 20-year-old patient currently lives with his brother and his brother's girlfriend; he had to drop out of college due to his cancer care needs. His parents live nearby but he wanted to be independent and prefers to live with his brother. The patient has expressed that he has become really impatient with his cancer -- he is often bored and tries to push through the fatigue to do fun things with his brother - one of the only people who understands what he is going through. His only complaint is that he feels like a third wheel with his brother's girlfriend. The patient was so excited to learn that he could get a Play Station 3, thanks to the Tim Roberts Fund. He is able to be comfortable at home when he's not feeling up for going out and can play with both is brother and his brother's girlfriend. The games have allowed him to spend more time with his brother's girlfriend and he no longer feels like a tag-a-long.

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