I want to thank you, Mr. Lemieux, and thank your foundation for supporting the work of UPMC’s cancer center. I am currently in treatment for the same condition you faced. In June, while five and a half months’ pregnant, I was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the 24 hours between receiving the diagnosis and having my first visit to the Hillman Center was probably the scariest 24 hours of my life thus far. Not only was I scared for myself, I was positively terrified for what the diagnosis could mean for my unborn baby. However, I told myself I had to hold it together for the sake of my other child, who is 2. It was likely the best, and most important acting job I’ve ever done. I refused to let my daughter see just how afraid her mommy was that cancer could threaten her baby sister or that I might not be around to see the two of them grow up.

Once I met Dr. Marks and the group who would become my care team, I could feel my entire body relax just a bit. We began treatment even while I was pregnant, and though the experience was – and still is – just a strange thing in and of itself, it’s actually a very pleasant experience to come to a gorgeous facility filled with medical providers and nursing staff who obviously care about me and cheer my every victory.

I am happy to report that my baby girl was born perfectly healthy and without any complications.
Though I still have a little more than halfway to go in my treatments, the latest PET scan results show almost no detectable activity of those evil little cells.

So, again, thank you so much for your enormous generosity in ensuring UPMC has a stellar site at which to care for patients facing frightening diagnoses. Though I would never dare speak for others, I would guess everyone who visits the fourth floor of Hillman is equally impressed and grateful for such a remarkable facility.

Thank you, thank you. A thousand times, thank you.

Valerie

(P.S. Let’s go, Pens!)