“Family” is the word that comes to Christiane Robbins’ mind when she thinks about those who cared for her son at Children’s National Hospital. Staying involved with that family helps her celebrate David’s memory. “We spent four years at Children’s National,” she says. “Despite the outcome, every person there—from the young woman checking IDs to the cleaning staff, the doctors and the person I’d call to make appointments who would say she’s praying for David—they made us feel like we were part of a large family, making an extremely difficult time a bit easier.”
David’s passion was basketball. He joined his junior varsity high school team freshman year. He was 15 when doctors at Children’s National diagnosed him with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, in the fibula of his left leg. David started chemotherapy within two weeks and had surgery to remove the tumor, spending the summer and fall in treatment. His mom says the David’s nurses once organized a late-night hallway treasure hunt when he couldn’t sleep. Others brought him the fresh donuts he loved.
As a gift to some staff members after his release, David made bracelets with gold beads representing childhood cancer along with a small blue angel on each. David reached his goal of playing basketball again for his high school. He designed kits for oncology patients at Children’s National, with useful items like tissues, mouthwash, sickness bags, wipes and hard candy, as his Eagle Scout community service project. Each bag contained an index card with room to list important information, such as the needle size their ports required and current medications.
David was in remission for less than six months. He passed away in November 2017 after a four- year fight. Christiane fundraises for the Race for Every Child each year to support the hospital in his honor. Nurses still wear his bracelets. Dr. Lauren McLaughlin, his attending doctor, tucked his blue angel in her bouquet on her wedding day. David, Dr. McLaughlin later told his mother, “will always be with me.”
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