Trish always knew she wanted to be a nurse. After high school, she enrolled in college as a nursing major, determined to pursue her dream—but things didn’t go as planned. Derailed by homesickness, the overwhelmed teenager transferred schools and abandoned nursing altogether. Ten years later, she gave birth to a daughter with a severe congenital heart disease. In the months of surgeries that followed, Trish realized what her heart knew all along, and with four small children at home, she finished what she had started and became a registered nurse.
When Trish’s 7-year-old niece, Bridget, developed medulloblastoma—a brain tumor that impacts muscle coordination, balance, and movement—the family sought treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. As Trish watched the nurses attend to Bridget, she immediately recognized the same passion to serve that she felt in herself.
Pictured, from left: Trish’s niece and Jimmy Fund Clinic patient, Bridget; Bridget’s Buddies at the 2008 Jimmy Fund Walk; and Cheryl (left) and Trish (right) pose with Bridget’s Buddies teammates at the 2021 Jimmy Fund Walk
“Whether they were caring directly for Bridget or indirectly helping my sister, they were the strength that carried my family through the most difficult physical and emotional times,” Trish says. “I believe all nurses strive to do this for their patients. I am honored to do it for mine and am grateful for those who have been there for my family.”
One fall day in 2006, Bridget and her mother, Cheryl, stared out the window of the hospital, watching as thousands of people gathered in the street below to participate in the Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai. Cheryl was determined that next year, Bridget and her family would be walking alongside them.
The following year, Bridget’s Buddies laced up for their inaugural walk. Bridget was in remission, but her grandfather was now in hospice care for pancreatic cancer. Sadly, Bridget lost her cancer battle several years later, when she was 11. Bridget’s Buddies continues to walk every year in her memory, and in honor of cancer patients everywhere. Each year, the team varies in size, distance walked, and funds raised—but their unwavering commitment to Dana-Farber remains the same.
“Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund provided so much for our family,” Trish says. “They offered Bridget and her siblings fun outings, so that even for an afternoon, cancer wasn’t the only thing in their lives. They were the medical staff, always brainstorming better plans of care. And they were a community, where our family knew we weren’t alone. The Jimmy Fund Clinic is a bright light for families going through a cancer journey. To be able to give back through the Jimmy Fund Walk is invaluable.”
As a nurse, Trish often receives praise for her work with sick children and their mothers. People remark that she must be a special individual to provide compassionate care in such difficult circumstances. When Trish reflects on the last two decades of her career, and on Bridget’s experience at Dana-Farber, it only reinforces what Trish has always known: “Nursing is a calling, and everyone has that special thing they are best suited for.”
Several years ago, Trish was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Currently, her disease is stable and not yet requiring active treatment.
“I feel so fortunate that Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund will be there when my disease progresses and intervention is needed; that medical advancements may offer treatment options not yet available. And that the wonderful nurses at Dana-Farber will be there for me.”
Join us on October 1 at the Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk to support lifesaving research and care at Dana-Farber. Start you own team or join an existing group like Bridget’s Buddies. Visit JimmyFundWalk.org for more information.
Support efforts like Dana-Farber’s Nursing and Patient Care Services team by joining The Dana-Farber Campaign, our ambitious, multi-year fundraising effort to prevent, treat, and defy cancer. The Dana-Farber Campaign will accelerate the Institute’s strategic priorities by supporting revolutionary science, extraordinary care, and exceptional expertise. As a community, we have the power to create a more hopeful, cancer-free future—in Boston and around the world. Together, we can defy cancer at every turn. Learn more about The Dana-Farber Campaign and how you can get involved at DefyCancer.org.