‘Designed by patients like me’: A patient’s perspective on the Yawkey Center

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As a Dana-Farber employee planning events for the opening of Dana-Farber’s Yawkey Center for Cancer Care, I knew the building was designed with guidance from patients and families.

But I had no idea how important this was until shortly after the building opened – and, newly diagnosed with acute t-cell lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma, I walked through the doors as a patient myself.

At the worst time in my life, walking into the Yawkey Center as a cancer patient was so comforting. The building itself, filled with natural light and soothing features, doesn’t look like a hospital, thanks to decisions made with patient and family input.

Through long hours of infusion appointments, the heated seats and massage features in the chemotherapy chairs really come in handy. I can watch TV during treatment, or sit quietly and look out at the sweeping views through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Volunteers come around with a book cart if you want something to read, and a food cart with sandwiches, drinks, and snacks (which is really convenient when you’re there for a long day of treatment).

One of my favorite places — truly a little bit of paradise right inside the Yawkey Center — is the Stoneman Healing Garden. This sanctuary of flowers, plants, and rainforest sounds is so soothing. In the midst of stressful treatment, it’s a place to regroup, find peace, and for a moment, take in the beauty and tranquility.

All the details that patients themselves thought to implement in the design are too numerous to mention here. Going through cancer treatment is tough, but being in a beautiful, healing, and comfortable environment, designed by patients like me, makes the journey so much easier.

I still have 13 months of maintenance treatment to go, and there is no place I’d rather be having my treatment.

Rosemary Fischer is a former employee and current patient at Dana-Farber. Rosemary also appears in this video that highlights some of the ways patients and family members helped design the Yawkey Center.

3 comments

  1. Ken Panthen says:

    My best to all of those individuals that were treated at the Yawkey Center.
    I am a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Mantle Cell Lymphoma in April of 2011. I immediately made an appointment with Dana as soon as I heard that I needed chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. Not knowing that the building was only a few months old, I was overwhelmed with the overall feeling you get when you drive in. I am 3 hours away and knew that this was going to be a difficult journey for my family, but felt that Dana could do it.
    From the minute you enter the parking garage, the valet staff welcomes you like you had the best room at the Ritz Hotel in NYC. Entering the building, there was a air of relief, since everyone is upbeat and they all smile continuously. The employees never make you feel like you are taking up their time or that you aren’t important. After 18 weeks of Chemotherapy in the infusion center, I was scheduled for a stem cell transplant which was done on Halloween. Today, I am feeling fantastic. I will continue to improve so my goal is to have all my functionality back within 3-6 months. My daughter has always told the doctors, “Our local doctors and hospitals are like the “dollar store”, Dana-Farber is like SACKS 5th Avenue:. And it is true. God Bless everyone of you for making our journeys your first priority.
    KEN PANTHEN, Albany, NY

  2. Ker Wenman says:

    Hello there from Australia
    I was diagnosed in Jan 2010 with precursor T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukaemia stage IV and was treated with eight round of Hyper C-VAD chemotherapy with successful NED in October 2010, I relapsed in September 2011 and was treated with 5 rounds of ICE chemotherapy, and had TBI and an auto SCT in March 2012 (my brother was a perfect match). I relapseded in June 2013 and have currently had 17 days of radiation (where I have reached complete saturation) and this treatment plan is no longer an option. It is rare I find others with the same cancer as every cancer appears to be different, nevertheless, I was very interested to read your story and would like to know if you have had any success with treatment plans? At this point my doctors appear to have moved to pain management & palative care but I am positive that a small miracle could possibly come my way so any information you may have would be greatly appreciated for this ‘battling Aussie’.
    All the wry best :-)

  3. Rosemary Fischer says:

    Hi Ker. I just saw this posting. Thanks for reaching out.

    You should look on http://www.clinicaltrials.gov to see all the open T cell ALL trials (but I believe it is just within US.)

    The other option is to call the DFCI international office for help because they do have an open clinical trial for relapsed T cell ALL patients, but unfortunately you would have to come here and stay here while on study. http://www.dana-farber.org/Adult-Care/Treatment-and-Support/Patient-and-Family-Support/International-Patient-Assistance.aspx

    Not sure if this is doable for you, but it’s worth a shot. Keep the faith, you are in my thoughts and remember, never give up!

    All the best,
    Rosemary

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