We learned a lot since the day he was diagnosed. At the time we believed that most kids battled cancer and went on to live long lives. We were very wrong. Pediatric cancer research gets a a tiny amount of funding from the government and from drug companies, and pediatric cancer is still predominately being fought with drugs that are 60 years old. Drugs that we know don't work on many forms of children's cancer.
In the world of pediatric cancer there are no elegant solutions and no winning teams. It is this weak foundation on which the Nurses Fund exists and it was created with two objectives.
It is to honor, and in some ways extend, the life of our 13-year-old son. It is a legacy built on the joy he felt from random acts of kindness and his enduring love of his nurses.
And it is to honor the nurses who find our strength. There is no question that being a nurse is hard - frankly it’s even dirty. However, we are not driven to support the nurses because they do their jobs - it is because they help the parents and families do theirs.
It is because from the day we became a cancer family they treated us like experts - even when we couldn't pronounce the name of the disease - they put us at the head of the table.
It is the nurses who sort out the medicine bottles and equipment that is so plentiful you need a shopping bag to get it all home.
It is the nurses that make the scary feel normal and enable a teenager to accept the port, the chest tubes, the G-Tubes, the bare bones, the 3rd degree radiation burns, and the myriad of other ways that chemo and cancer inspires your body to betray you.
They assure you, each in their own way, that you can handle it.
They patch you up and get you to school, to your play, almost every home playoff Celtics game, the Bruins, Hawaii, Maine, Disney, and the Super Bowl.
They make sure that chemo, radiation and appointments don’t get in the way of your final exams, fishing or the school dance and not 24 hours before dying send you to Fenway Park to meet one of the greatest pitchers and watch a game from behind home plate without tubes or wires.
And more then anything else... it is because they choose a few at a time that they DECIDE to love with abandon.
Even though an unfair number of these patients - the tiny ones to the teenagers - die. These nurses choose again and again to join the losing team.
In honor of these Nurses we created a fund to recognize their special moments, to create joy just for them and in a tiny way to say thank you for Mike and for so many of the kids that came before him and sadly will come after.
We created this fund because one does not exist - in fact almost nothing to honor nurses does - so please give in order to honor the way they stand on our crumbling foundation and then let us stand on their shoulders.
On the last week of April in 2016 Michael Caleb McHugh went from being a healthy, vibrant, athletic, honors student celebrating his 12th birthday to an oncology patient with a 3-year survival rate of less than 5%.
No medical history, no family history, no warning. It is every parent’s nightmare but we spent the next 15 months finding ways to embrace our life.
We made a conscience decision to keep our lives as normal as possible, to deny the cancer the opportunity to take over, and each day to find a new way to normal. However, it is the nurses that enabled us, cleared the path, and brought out our best.
They indulged his whims and helped prepare his weak body to attend MANY professional sports games. They were our family by choice.
About the Fund
Michael conceived of the Nurses Fund during his treatments at Dana Farber and Childrens Hospital. The initial money raised with go to support the Pediatric Oncology Nurses at both locations. Go Fund Me is not tax deductable but it you would like to make a tax deductable donation you can send a check to Dana Farber Nurses Fund at PO Box 351, Milton, MA 02186 or email us at [email redacted]. The McHugh family is responsible for the PO Box and we present the checks to Dana Farber in Michael's name. The money is administered with guidance from the nurses and the family.
It is our intent to raise $100,000 so that the fund will last till at least until Michael's 21st birthday.
If you would like to share a story about a nurse you love please do so on our Facebook page - The Nurses Fund.
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