“MGH rocks.” “I ‘heart’ nurses.” “I love you.” These are just some of the messages the MassGeneral Hospital for Children Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) staff have received in cards from their families since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the holiday season rolls around each year, many shoppers look forward to getting the best deals on gifts for loved ones on Black Friday. The Worrell family is no exception – they begin their annual shopping trip around 1 am and purchase nearly 75 toys and games. These gifts, however, are not wrapped and put under their family’s Christmas tree. They are delivered to pediatric oncology patients at the MassGeneral Hospital for Children Cancer Center.
This tradition started in 2004 when Cindy Worrell, then 47 of Wareham, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and began receiving treatment at the MGH. Here, Cindy met several children with the same diagnosis and she chose to focus on finding ways to make their experiences at the hospital more uplifting. She found that having something to look forward to at the end of their treatments – such as receiving a new toy – made all the difference.
“Cindy said, ‘I've got to focus on the kids. If I focus on myself, I’m just going to feel sorry for myself,’” her husband Geoff recalls.
Although Cindy died in 2016, her kindness and generosity continue to have a significant impact on children in the MGHfC Cancer Center – not only during the holidays, but throughout the entire year.
Before the pandemic, the Worrells would head out to area stores to fill their shopping carts. This year, they gathered in Geoff’s kitchen to browse and purchase online. Geoff says his young grandchildren were especially helpful in knowing what would be popular and well-received.
“We really enjoy trying to make a difference,” Geoff says. “It’s not a new building or surgical center or endowment, but it’s a way to show people how important and easy it is to give back. We hope that this can help take the kids’ minds off cancer, even if it’s just for a morning.”
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