Annual Giving Campaign
Your donation helps to ensure that UBCHO and GMCH can continue to provide emergency care, on-going treatment, transitional, respite, and end-of-life care for children in need.
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As a young boy, Colten would attack imaginary enemies, swinging his tiny fists and shouting, “Hulk smash!” His active imagination and fighting spirit served him well and earned him the nickname “Hulken” when he was treated for cancer by the experts at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. In 2015, Colten was diagnosed with stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of nerve cancer. “We realized that the best path forward would be to appeal to the ‘strong warrior’ that had always been such a big part of Colten’s personality,” says his mother, Michelle. Over the next two years, Colten spent more than 240 nights in the hospital. He lived up to his warrior persona, walking the halls dressed as Yoda and challenging staff members to thumb wars and breakdancing battles. “We’ll be forever grateful for everyone at the hospital who went to extraordinary lengths to help our son,” Michelle says. Colten became the first UCSF patient to receive a combination treatment − immunotherapy with chemotherapy − approved by the FDA only months earlier. After two rounds of treatment, Colten was cancer-free. But he still had a long way to go: a stem cell transplant, radiation, and more immunotherapy, followed by eight months of isolation at home. Colten recently celebrated his 9th birthday and will soon mark 3 years cancer-free. The active third grader enjoys swimming and flag football. “We are definitely making up for lost time,” Michelle says.
It isn’t easy for Emelyn to ask for help. She is an emergency room nurse who prides herself on taking excellent care of her medically fragile daughter, Mia. Mia spent her first 3 months in the NICU. Ultimately, diagnosed with cerebral palsy and a degenerative condition that inhibits growth, Mia was not expected to live past her first year. Now at age 11, Mia, who is developmentally disabled and needs a feeding tube, has defied the odds. As anyone who has ever cared for someone seriously ill knows, caregivers need a break. As a loving mother and knowledgeable nurse, Emelyn’s expectations for Mia’s care are very high. After meeting the skilled nurses who would care for her daughter at George Mark, Emelyn was able to overcome her initial reservations. “Through George Mark, I’ve learned that it’s okay to let other people help you on your journey.” Respite care at George Mark allows Emelyn a chance to sleep and recharge for her demanding routine. Most importantly of all, George Mark allows Emelyn a chance to “just” be a mom. “Between all the roles I play for Mia – social worker, nurse, care coordinator – I don’t get to be a mom. George Mark lets me be a mom.” One recent night when Mia was staying at George Mark for respite care, Emelyn visited during Mia’s bedtime, and found herself next to her daughter on the couch watching Mia’s favorite show, Dancing with the Stars. Knowing that experienced nurses at George Mark were managing all of Mia’s medical needs, she said, “I can truly relax.”