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Your Impact

2017 marks the 12th anniversary of the Lahey Health 5K Cancer Walk & Run. In the past ten years, this event has raised an impressive total of $1.8 million to enhance and support cancer services available at Lahey Health locations in Burlington, Peabody, Winchester, Beverly and Gloucester.

Proceeds from the Lahey Health 5K Cancer Walk & Run have a tremendous impact in supporting cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery in the area. Funds have been used for:

  • The purchase of new equipment for cancer treatment
  • Cancer support groups
  • Blanket warmers for patients undergoing chemotherapy
  • Renovating a family waiting room in Burlington
  • Building a “healing garden” at Lahey Medical Center, Peabody – a place where patients can relax outdoors in the company of fresh flowers

Your Stories

The Lahey Health 5K Cancer Walk & Run provides an opportunity to come together for fun while honoring survivors, remembering loved ones lost, and illustrating we still have farther to go in the fight against cancer.

Treating Patients Like Family

 

Jessie Dupré was 24 years old and in the midst of teaching a lesson to her fifth-grade class in Lynn when a severe pain in her side sent her to the Emergency Department at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center (LHMC) in Burlington.

A chest scan revealed a tumor that was pushing on her trachea and heart, compromising her breathing and her heart function. Dupré was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and immediately began treatment at the Sophia Gordon Cancer Center at LHMC, which is part of the Lahey Health Cancer Institute.

The experience turned out to be very different than she expected. “The people in the infusion center, they kind of became family,” said Dupré. “I saw them almost every single day. They’d tell me about their weekend, show me a picture of their family or just check in to see how I was doing.”

Sandra L. Hiney, RN, who helped to care for Dupré, said she couldn’t help but feel a special connection to her patient, who is the same age as her own daughter. “I would want my own daughter to have the same care if she was sick,” she said.

The Beverly resident is now in remission. “I think the biggest thing I learned during this time was just how important relationships are,” she said. “And also how important it is to love people because there were so many people who were there for me.” 

 

Danvers Family Walking to Remember



It was Christmas Eve 2014 when Mike LaHaye received the call.

The longtime Danvers resident had been diagnosed with lung cancer seven months earlier, but it was Dec. 24 when his phone rang. Mike had on his patented red vest – he wore it every year around the holidays. The LaHaye family had all congregated in Gloucester for the holiday.

“Christmas Eve is our big day,” said Shannon Chiachiaretta, Mike’s daughter. “We get all dressed up and see our entire extended family.”

The call came early in the afternoon. It was his Beverly Hospital pulmonologist – Dr. Fares Mouchantaf. “He just wanted to check in,” said Sharon LaHaye, Mike’s wife. “He wanted to know how he was doing.”

Mike had been receiving his treatment at Beverly Hospital, but it’s that one call the LaHaye family won’t soon forget. “He has family. This is Christmas Eve for him too, but he wanted to check-in with me,” Sharon recalled Mike saying. “We were just so touched that he would take the time to call us.”

And as Sharon pointed out, this was more of a social call than a medical one. “They didn’t talk about his treatment or anything, just how he was doing. How his family is doing,” Sharon said.

Mike passed away 10 months later in Oct. 2015. To thank the staff for the care they provided her husband, Sharon baked treats for the unit.

“Everyone came out of the office to see us,” Shannon said. “We all had tears in our eyes. The nurses even came to the wake. My dad always looked forward to the treatment because of the staff in the cancer center. Who describes their cancer treatment as fun?”

“Dad was all about spending time with family, which after months of treatment, seemed to extend to his caregivers at Beverly Hospital,” said Mike’s son, Ryan LaHaye.

To honor Mike, his family will be participating in the Lahey Health 5K Cancer Walk & Run.

“We thought this would be a nice tribute to my dad and his caregivers,” Shannon said. “We wanted to do something to make sure others have as good an experience as we did.”

According to Shannon, this would also be an opportunity for the family to gather once a year and reminisce about her father, especially to help his four young grandchildren who enjoyed “fishing” on Mike’s iPad, remember “Papa”.

“It was so important for him to connect with his grandchildren and participating in this cancer walk is the perfect opportunity for them to continue connecting with him,” Shannon said.

A Life Vest in Rough Waters



At first, Sandy Macdonald assumed a pain she was feeling in her inner ear and throat was caused by a bad ear infection. When the pain continued after two courses of antibiotics, Sandy reluctantly made an appointment to see an ear, nose and throat specialist. After nearly cancelling the appointment because the pain had subsided, Sandy was stunned when she learned she was suffering from Stage 1 carcinoma; a tumor was detected at the base of her tongue.

“I remember being in shock that entire day,” said Sandy. “Then the fear set in. Everyone in my family was scared.”

Her initial meetings with the physicians and nurses at Lahey Medical Center, Peabody, who would guide her through the process, put Sandy at ease before she began an intensive course of radiation and chemotherapy. During one session, medical oncologist Jacob Sands, MD, shared an analogy with her: “Imagine you have been thrown from a white water raft and you need a life vest,” he said. “We, your care team, are your life vest and we will see you through to safety.”

That resonated with Sandy.

“Each time I came in for an appointment, I was welcomed with a smile, called by my first name and made to feel like I was their special patient,” Sandy said. “Everyone knew how to read me and how to say just the right things to lift my spirits.”

Macdonald is now in remission, and says she often thinks back to Dr. Sands’ analogy. “I’m happy to say I’ve made it back to calm waters and hopefully to dry land,” she said. “I am a survivor.”

Gordon Green's Story 


Gordon Green shares his story of how Lahey Hospital & Medical Center saved his life. Always healthy, he was once a smoker but hadn’t touched a cigarette in years. He and his wife, Denise, have “four beautiful children,” he says. “I’ve always assumed I would remain healthy enough to watch them grow up.”

In 2012, he saw his primary care physician, Dr. James Kolb, at Lahey because he had some chest pain. Dr. Kolb recommended Lahey’s low-dose CT lung cancer screening program. He told me that while lung cancer is one of the four deadliest cancers, it is not routinely screened for in high-risk patients because insurance doesn’t cover it.

But Lahey has worked to fix that by offering free low-dose screening for patients who meet high risk criteria.

Two hours after his screening, Dr. Kolb called to say there was a spot on his left lung. A PET scan revealed cancer. Gordon underwent surgery at Lahey to remove the tumor and some nearby lymph nodes.

“My doctors told me that if I hadn’t undergone the free lung cancer screening, the cancer would likely have spread,” Gordon says. “By the time I felt symptoms, it would probably have been too late. That surgery saved my life.”

Gordon has spread the word about the free lung cancer screening program. “This Cancer Walk & Run means so much to me because it’s an opportunity to give back to the doctors, nurses and staff who helped save my life,” he adds. “I feel so honored to be able to participate in today’s event and share my story with you.”

Janet Anderson’s Story

A medical assistant in the Pulmonary Department, Janet remembers her former colleague, Jane Rzeppa, as a mother figure at Lahey Medical Center, Peabody – someone who was there for anyone when they needed her.

So when Jane was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006, Janet didn’t think twice before becoming captain of The J Walkers, a team of 18 colleagues, including Jane, who participated in the first walk to support cancer services at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Burlington.

Jane died the following year. The J Walkers – now a team of 38 – will walk in her honor for the 10th year in a row, banding together to remember a colleague and friend.

Janet participates in the event year after year because she knows the money raised directly benefits patients who receive cancer care at Lahey. “It makes me feel better that I am supporting people out there who are struggling with disease. I know that some of the therapies we offer patients, like Reiki and massage, are funded by the event,” she said. “I like knowing that money we have raised helps pay for new equipment that helps patients reach their goal of healing.”

The team has raised funds through a bake sale, dinner dance and from generous donors who sponsor them. The J Walkers raised $1,850 that first year and have raised more than $15,000 since 2006. After the loss of another colleague and friend, Lisa Glejzer, many of her friends and coworkers joined the J Walkers to demonstrate support for Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s cancer services.