Dedicated couple supports cancer research with estate

Hank Fitzgerald was a healthy, active grandfather of six, so it came as a shock to him and his family when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Being familiar with the Longwood Medical Area – receiving much of his general care there and having four of his grandchildren born in a nearby hospital – Hank felt confident that Dana-Farber was the best place for his treatment.

“The word ‘cancer’ is very scary,” Hank recalled when thinking about his diagnosis. He knew then his life had changed in an instant. With a family to support, Hank was hopeful he could fight his cancer while he continued to work; he turned to Dana-Farber’s Dr. Paul Nguyen for guidance and treatment. Thanks to Dr. Nguyen’s critical research, expertise, and flexibility, Hank was given a minimally impactful option that fit his schedule. For 42 days, he woke up at 5:00 a.m., drove an hour to Boston from his hometown of Sturbridge, MA, received radiation treatment, and then put in a full day of work. Hank’s resilience paid off. Today, six years after his diagnosis, Hank’s prostate-specific antigen levels are so low, they’re barely detectable, and he has a new outlook on life.

“This was a wake-up call for me because I realized just how short life can be, and how important it is to give back to others,” said Hank.

With Hank in remission, he and his wife, Joanne, wanted to show their gratitude to the place that helped save Hank’s life. They decided to name Dana-Farber as a charitable beneficiary in their living trust to support prostate cancer research, leaving a percentage of their estate to fuel progress at the Institute.

“Dana-Farber makes it easy to give. There are so many ways to make a gift while providing for your family at the same time, and they have knowledgeable staff to help with real-world scenarios,” said Hank.

Hank and Joanne chose to make a gift through their estate as it allows them to control their assets and retain their financial security while making a larger contribution than they could during their lifetimes and also a greater impact on the lives of fellow cancer patients.

“To whom much is given, much is required,” said Hank. “We wanted to pay it forward. That’s the legacy – helping those that come after you.”

Please contact Erin McKenna, Assistant Vice President, Planned Giving, at 800-535-5577 or, for more information on honoring a family member or caregiver through an estate gift to Dana-Farber. To learn more about the Dana-Farber Society, a visionary group of individuals who have left a legacy for the Institute, please visit our website: