After their 8-year-old son had a successful brain tumor surgery in their home state of Washington, Joe and Leigh McGraw chose to take Tommy to MassGeneral Hospital for Children's Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center for targeted treatment. The McGraws share the story of their experience at MGHfC in the letter and video below.
"As I often tell people, Tommy is everything that a parent could want in a son. He is a fantastic student, an exceptional athlete, and a handsome young man, but most importantly he is just a wonderfully loving and lovable little boy. In his fight with cancer he is not only my hero, but is equally a hero to those that know him and to those that have only recently met him. The wonderful staff at MGH who is caring for Tommy have become my heroes as well.
Tommy was diagnosed with a brain tumor and brain cancer on the 5th of March at Madigan Army Medical Center (Tacoma, WA). He was immediately moved to Seattle Children's Hospital where he underwent a very successful surgery to remove the tumor; the type and grade of tumor required Proton Beam Therapy for follow-up treatment. On the recommendation of Seattle Children’s and after our own extensive research, we determined that Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital for Children was the best place in the country to treat our son. It has been a tremendously wonderful decision as the support, care, and treatment of Tommy and our entire family has been nothing short of spectacular. Please allow me to elaborate.
The enrollment staff at MGH and at the Proton Therapy Center worked incredibly fast to review Tommy’s condition and accept him for treatment. This was much more than just being efficient
Tommy’s treatment while at MGH has been nothing short of exemplary. From his physician, Dr. Torunn Yock, to his nurse, Rachel Bolton, the staff at the Proton Therapy Center has shown professionalism, care, concern and sympathy that extends far beyond the obligations and descriptions of their titles. Tommy is their patient, he is their little boy, who they are determined to help beat cancer in mind, body and spirit. I feel this protective ownership of him every day when we arrive for his treatment. He is surrounded by people who know him and care for him daily, each in their own way and according to their specialty.
My wife (Leigh) and I are both active duty members of the military. Our professions have meant that our family has endured separations due to military deployment or training on several occasions
MGH is in a class by itself in the programs and activities that are designed not only for the pediatric patient, but for the patient’s siblings and parents. Katie (9 yrs old) and Sydney (6 yrs old) have been welcomed into the ‘gang’ of pediatric patients at the Proton Center and interact almost daily through the art, music, and craft activities that are provided. This is huge. It means that the girls are here to help Tommy feel normal and surrounded by his family, and it means that all of the kids have the normal interaction with children their own age, doing things that children should be doing: creating music, painting pictures, and making the coolest duck-tape wallets ever seen. Cancer and cancer treatment has become a minor distraction to the events of the day for the kids
So too, the city and residents of Boston has been equally wonderful and supportive of Tommy and our entire family. The Red Sox made it possible for the family to attend a game behind home plate, the crew of the USS Constitution provided a special tour on a day when we shouldn’t have even been on the ship, the hotel that we are staying at takes special care of the entire family, and the people that we have met in and around the city have been very welcoming and very adoptive of this military family far from home. Boston has been most welcoming and most caring in every sense.
Tommy’s message to everyone is "Crush It!" in reference to defeating his cancer. The staff at MGH, the incredible care providers at the Proton Therapy Center, and the large supporting ensemble that includes wonderful organizations in Boston are giving him and us every opportunity to do just that. I am biased, and I think this is an incredibly wonderful and positive story for MGH and the City of Boston, but I suspect that this story plays out and is repeated a thousand times over at MGH. The only way I can possibly repay the care, attention and love that Tommy and our family have received here at MGH is through demonstrating my utmost appreciation
Joe (Jake) McGraw