Friday, August 6, 2010

A special bond

MGH caregiver officiates wedding for patient

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD: Ebb officiates the wedding of Gary and Carolyn Letourneau.

This summer, one MGH physician traded his white coat for a suit jacket and his stethoscope for a wedding ceremony script when he officiated the wedding of one of his longtime patients.

David H. Ebb, MD, of the MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) Center for Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, has been Gary Letourneau's physician for the past 16 years. Letourneau, now 29, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 13 and has battled the disease since then, always with Ebb by his side.

Although he is an adult, Letourneau has continued his care with MGHfC physician Ebb and his colleagues, including Francis Hornicek, MD, PhD, chief of Orthopædic Oncology; J. Heidi Jupp, RN, Pediatric Oncology nurse; Anne Fiore, RN, NP, Orthopædic Oncology nurse practitioner; and Andra Sobran, MSW, LICSW, clinical director of Social Services. When he became an adult, Letourneau made a special request for Ebb to continue his cancer care, and Ebb agreed, knowing how much it meant to Letourneau that he continue the journey with him.

"When I first visited Dr. Ebb 16 years ago, I immediately felt comfortable," says Letourneau. "Obviously, our relationship has developed over the years, and it's as much of a friendship now as it is a doctor and patient type of thing. It was a pretty clear option, when we decided to have the ceremony, to ask Dr. Ebb to officiate. He knows me the best out of anyone outside of my family."

Upon hearing Letourneau's request for him to officiate the special day, Ebb says he was more nervous than anything else.

"I was extremely flattered and very nervous," he says. "I wasn’t sure I would be up to the task, and I wanted to make sure everything was perfect for Gary and his bride, Carolyn. I even bought a new suit for the first time in 23 years just for the ceremony."

In addition to Ebb officiating the nuptials, Jupp and Sobran also attended the wedding, which took place June 26 at Tupper Manor in Beverly, Mass., with 170 of the couple's family members and friends. The special bond between Ebb and Letourneau was apparent at the ceremony. Letourneau, who refers to his care team as "his MGH family," says that he often sees his MGH caregivers more than he sees some of his own family members. He describes the level of comfort and trust that he feels for his MGH family as "amazing."

"Everything went perfectly," says Letourneau. "The weather was great, and Dr. Ebb went above and beyond what we expected him to do. Carolyn and I are so thankful for his help throughout these years as my caregiver and friend and now for making our wedding day even more special than we could have ever imagined!"

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