Here is a beautiful letter, written with awe-inspiring grace and elegance, that we recently received from a patient's mother. Nicole, Nate's mom, knows very well the value of the Prouty Garden. Please read, and share, and remember Nate in your thoughts.
I have spent a lot of time in the Prouty Garden at Children's Hospital over the past 3+ years.
In June 2012, my then 11-year-old son Nate was diagnosed with metastatic undifferentiated sarcoma, cancer of the soft tissue and bone. Nate received most of his treatment in-patient at Children's Hospital because it was too difficult to manage the side effects on an outpatient basis. His cancer relapsed a few months after that first year of treatment so we found ourselves at Children's Hospital many more times.
Throughout the different seasons, we enjoyed taking walks around the garden. It became a ritual of sorts to try to spot all of the animal statues (the owl being my favorite) and to identify which flowers had been switched out. We loved to admire the mature trees, which stood as symbols of a bygone time. On good days, Nate would challenge himself to walk on his own and on other days when he was weaker, I would push him in a wheelchair. It is hard to say what we liked most about the Prouty Garden but I know that my son saw it as an escape that heightened his senses in a very positive way, whether it be an opportunity to breath in fresh air, to smell fresh cut grass, to feel the warmth of the sun or the cool wind, or to just listen to the peaceful quiet or the birds singing. It was always a much-welcomed retreat from the confines of the hospital.
It was during the end of Nate's first year of treatment when we heard about the potential to close the Prouty Garden. Nate proudly wore a "Save the Prouty Garden" button on his shirt when he was inpatient. Being a nature loving kid, it was hard for him to make sense of the decision. Both of us agreed that it was nearly impossible to quantify the benefits from such a space, at least not in terms that could be compared to increases in number of beds, square footage, or office space.
Children's Hospital has transformed significantly over the years that we have spent time there. There is no contesting that the new lobby, family center and wing on the Oncology floor have all made for significant improvement. The Prouty Garden, however, still exists relatively unchanged. And that is a VERY GOOD THING. In a healthcare setting, improvement is often measured by change.
We must embrace the change that comes with technological advances and new scientific breakthroughs but we must not be so focussed on change that we fail to recognize what is already working well.
This past December my son had his last stay at Children's Hospital. After 3 1/2 years, he had exhausted all of his treatment options and the cancer that had started in his lungs had aggressively spread to his brain, bones and other vital organs and left him struggling to breath.
Nate died at Children's Hospital on December 9th. I find myself reliving the nightmare of his last hours over and over again. I am extraordinarily grateful, however, for the beautiful memories that were made during our special times in the Prouty Garden. Going forward, when I think of Children's Hospital, I will try to forget the pain and suffering my son experienced but remember the smile on his face after catching a glimpse of a butterfly on a warm summer day this past July. The Prouty Garden serves as an oasis for parents when their child is sick and they are completely vulnerable and also serves as an oasis for children who need to feel a sense of normalcy when life is anything but that. As Hippocrates said, "nature itself is the best physician".
Thank you for all your efforts to save this very special place.
Mother of Nathaniel Cavallo (4/21/2001-12/9/2015)
Our hearts go out to Nate's family for their loss. We thank them for their bravery and willingness to share their story.