When 5-year-old Liam DiPilato grows up, he’s going to be a professional baseball player. Better yet, he’s going to play for his favorite team, the Boston Red Sox.
“He always tells us he’s going to be a better hitter than Big Papi,” says Liam’s mom, Tara.
If that’s the case, the team might want to have some scouts on hand at Fenway Park on June 11. That’s when the soon-to-be kindergartner will take the field for John Hancock Fenway Fantasy Day, a cancer fundraising event that benefits Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund.
“When we heard about Fenway Fantasy Day, we knew we had to get Liam involved,” Tara says. “Participating in this fundraiser is not only an opportunity to give back to a place that has given us so much in the past year, but it’s also a chance to give Liam a unique and amazing opportunity to do something that would mean so much to him. He’s so excited.”
The family has registered under the team name Liam’s Lions, which will include a cheering section made up of Liam’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, and extended family. Together, they will soak in the experience and enjoy it, because it wasn’t that long ago that Liam was fighting for his life.
In spring 2015, Liam began experiencing serious headaches that sent him to the emergency room for an MRI. The test revealed he had an anaplastic ependymoma in his brain. He would need surgery to remove the tumor, but the doctors wouldn’t know if it was cancerous until after it was biopsied.
From day one, Liam’s parents Bill and Tara were struck by the reassuring nature of Liam’s care team, led by Mark Kieran, MD, PhD, director of pediatric medical neuro-oncology at Dana-Farber.
“They told us Dana-Farber does not look at the percentages. They treat each person individually and are innovative, aggressive, and do not give up, no matter what,” Tara says. “To know that you have a team intimately involved and prepared at such a prestigious facility is extremely reassuring.”
After Liam’s surgery revealed the tumor was, in fact, cancerous, his family faced some options for his future treatment. Again, Dr. Kieran took great care by looking at all the risks, including how completely the tumor was removed and what type of effect each option would have on Liam’s physical and cognitive development given his age.
After careful consideration, they opted to observe the tumor with regular MRIs rather than the standard course of radiation. “It was an extremely difficult decision to make,” Tara says. “We were reassured that we were making the best decision for our son and that we should never doubt that. It goes to show the depth of how much these doctors care not just about their patient, but the entire family. ”
Liam has many more appointments and MRIs in his future, but thanks to Dana-Farber’s expert care, the only tunnel he needs to focus on is the one that connects the clubhouse to the dugout at Fenway Park.
Best of luck to Liam and the rest of Liam’s Lions as they raise money to conquer cancer at John Hancock Fenway Fantasy Day on June 11.
This cancer fundraising event is a unique opportunity to bat and field at Boston’s historic Fenway Park while conquering cancer with the Jimmy Fund, and there are several ways to get involved. Purchase a batting or fielding package, join with your teammates in the High School All-Stars program, gather your colleagues to play with a corporate hospitality package, or give any amount to sponsor a Dana-Farber patient’s participation in the event.
Account Manager/Writer, Development Communications