People often remarked that Marilyn and I seemed to be handling this crisis very well. The truth is that the people who were caring for our child were handling things well. Their knowledge, commitment and compassion gave us the strength and emotional support needed to meet Faith's challenges. We want to express our thanks to the following organizations and individuals.
Teamsters Union 25 Health Services & Insurance Plan
We will be grateful forever to Teamsters Union 25 and the TeamstersCare Insurance Program for the important role they played in Faith’s life. As most of you know, Marilyn was Rh-sensitized during Faith’s pregnancy, a rare medical condition that threatened our daughter while still in utero. The Teamsters ensured that we got the best care available then — they did so again this time. This support gave us peace of mind and allowed us to focus on the most important thing of all: loving our daughter. As the name says, the Teamsters care.
Our blessings and thanks to:
Faith’s Cancer Fighters
Between our many Clinic visits and our inpatient stays, we spent a lot of time with the medical teams at Duke and New England Medical Center. Both Dr. Henry Friedman and Dr. Lawrence Wolfe have assembled teams of outstanding professionals who deliver expert and compassionate care. When they examined Faith, they were as interested in her well being as her vital signs. Marilyn and I were always touched by the attention they showed to Faith because we saw that they loved our daughter so much.
These professionals have a difficult job, dealing with serious medical problems confronting so many wonderful children. I don’t know how they do it. Whenever people told me they were praying for my daughter, I would tell them to include the wonderful doctors and nurses who were treating her. I would encourage you to continue to pray for them so that they can always continue to face their daily challenges with a clear mind and a loving heart.
Brain Tumor Center at Duke
It was essential that Faith have access to the best treatment options and the most experienced doctors available. For Faith’s tumor, where no cure is known, the best hope often exists at the leading edge of medical science. The following quote explains all of the reasons that we traveled to the Brain Tumor Center at Duke for Faith’s treatment.
"Since brain stem gliomas are relatively uncommon and require complex management, children with such tumors deserve evaluation in a comprehensive cancer center... In particular, for diffuse brain stem gliomas, because of their rarity and poor prognosis, children and their families should be encouraged to participate in clinical trials attempting to improve survival with innovative therapy."
Excerpted from: Brain Stem Gliomas in Childhood by Dana R. Foer, PA-C, Paul Graham Fisher, MD, MHS
Our thanks to:
New England Medical Center
From July 2000 to June 2001, the important job of Faith’s week-to-week treatment and care was the responsibility of the wonderful staff of the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology (PHO) Department of New England Medical Center (NEMC). In June 2001, Faith’s condition deteriorated to the point where travel to North Carolina was infeasible. At this time we consolidated all of her care to NEMC.
We have spent a great deal of time with the staff of the PHO Department as well as the nurses and residents on the Medical Wing of the Floating Hospital for Children. The establishment of The Faith Altbush Fund is one way to thank them for the care they provided to our daughter.
Our special thanks to:
Faith's Special Care Givers
I have mentioned elsewhere that Faith had an abiding trust in her medical caregivers. While part of this was just her nature, it surely had something to do with her special relationship with the doctors and nurses at Dowd Medical who cared for Faith throughout her life.
Our special thanks to:
Alice M. Barrows Elementary School
Faith attended a very special elementary school. We are so grateful for the administrators, teachers and parents at Barrows. It was not easy when we had to pull Faith out of kindergarten to go to Duke. However her class, in fact the entire school, sent cards and gifts to cheer up Faith.
When she began first grade, things were especially difficult. She had to miss a lot of school because of treatments. At times she was physically unable to keep up, or even participate, in activities with the other children. The radiation treatments she received created specific learning disabilities. Sometimes the tumor would affect her emotionally, causing separation anxiety or unexplained fits of weeping. But she was supported at all times by the wonderful staff of this school. Faith's tumor worsened during the last six weeks of school, leaving her debilitated and unable to attend. Her class sent cards and gifts to show their love. Throughout the summer of 2001, parents of Faith’s schoolmates cooked meals for us.
Lately we have read a lot about performance-based measurement of teachers and school systems, e.g.. the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Test (MCAS). Yet there seems to be no thought given to the importance of compassion as an important quality for a teacher or administrator. Let me tell you: Barrows has it all — great teachers, great administrators and a whole lot of heart.
We would especially like to thank: