Chemosabes Take A Victory Lap for Patient Care

Dedicated Team of Lahey Caregivers Raises $18,000+ for 2018 Lahey Health 5K

They did it again, relaying hope to their patients as they crossed the finish line in victory! For the 13thconsecutive year, members of the Lahey Cancer Institute team, dubbed the Chemosabes, ran on behalf of their patients in the 2018 Lahey Health 5K Cancer Walk & Run. Held on June 23 with a start and finish at Burlington High School, the event has become a rousing fundraising and spirit-building event for the entire community. This year’s effort raised more than $332,000 —and we’re still counting!

Team Chemosabe was one of the largest contributors to our success. The devoted members led the pack, breaking the fundraising tape ahead of the field of 90 teams. The Chemosabes’ donations tallied a whopping $18,806 as of June 26. Nurses, physicians, medical assistants, family members and more made up the motivated team of more than 80 people. One very special member of the team was Margaret Walsh, an executive assistant at the Sophia Gordon Cancer Center at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center.

Little touches matter

“I’ve run for the Chemosabes since I joined the department,” Margaret said. “It just seemed like the right thing to do for our patients. It suddenly became personal when my husband, Bob, was diagnosed with cancer.” Bob passed away in 2017. The day after his funeral, Margaret was diagnosed with cancer. Margaret has benefited from the most advanced targeted medications (approved by the FDA just a week prior to her diagnosis). “I know I am getting the best care right here in Burlington. My PET scans are completely clean, and I feel fantastic. But I have a different understanding of how much the little touches matter to patients.” In her job, Margaret sees the whole process. “The donations all add up,” said Margaret. “Wow, what a difference they make!”

Every day, the Chemosabes are on the front lines of cancer care, and so they are especially passionate in their fundraising efforts. They cheer on the vital enhancements that are made possible through the 5K Cancer Walk & Run. Last year’s funds contributed to important improvements, including expanded genetic counseling, updated furnishings for the stem cell transplant rooms, new infusion chairs and access to massage therapy. This year’s funds will again address a multitude of areas but will especially be directed to survivorship planning and programs.

Committed to caring

“At Lahey, we are committed to caring for our patients throughout their lives,” said Krishna Gunturu, MD, director of Cancer Survivorship. “With a unique multidisciplinary approach that has go-to specialists dedicated from each department, we strive to mitigate physical and emotional changes. We always focus on the patient’s perspective. In their ongoing survivorship journey, patients need continued support, especially in the areas of nutrition, exercise, psychology and quality of life.” Since many of these services are not covered by insurance, funds raised at the 5K Cancer Walk & Run can fill the gap, giving cancer patients and their families access to supplemental and complementary care when it makes all the difference.

‘We are a family’

With a clear mission in mind, the Chemosabes were early out of the gate in their fundraising efforts, which included traditional bake sales plus “flamingo flocking,” depositing miniature pink flamingos on desks and work stations around the hospital to encourage donations. They were happy to join in friendly competitions among other Lahey teams, making for laughs and camaraderie. The Chemosabes were definitely up to the challenge.

“We think of ourselves as the ‘faithful friends,’” said Brenda Hill, director of Clinical Services for Hematology and Oncology and Executive and International Health. “Our team is excited to support patients and their families because we see the direct benefits to care every day,” she said. “Our efforts might fund new radiation gowns, waiting room couches, a healing garden or chairside massage therapy. It’s deeply fulfilling to help in every way we can.”

The Chemosabes earned the right to wear their bib numbers with pride, bringing in top numbers for the 5K Cancer Walk & Run! And even more rewarding than that, they saw many of their patients at the event. “Whether walking, running or cheering from the grass, our patients and their loved ones were there in force,” said Dr. Gunturu. “That gave all of us from the Lahey Cancer Institute immense pleasure to see. We feel we are a family.”

For health. For hope. For life.