Hope Changes Everything

By Brian Duffin, Emma’s Dad

Doctors and medical researchers use terms like “breakthroughs” and “advances” to discuss their work in treating patients and looking for new drugs and treatments. The work that these medical professionals do is essential to the health and well-being of those who require curative care and treatment in a hospital setting. In a facility like Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, there are other important considerations to keep in mind, like the overall well-being of the children receiving care.

When my daughter, Emma, was receiving treatment for Leukemia at Connecticut Children’s, my wife and I quickly learned that some of the most important “breakthroughs” and “advances” were sometimes measured by giggles and smiles. One of the most important facets of treatment for children–and their parents, btw–doesn’t come in an IV or a pill; it’s a four-letter word dispensed liberally by the team at Connecticut Children’s: HOPE!

Hope comes in the form of an art kit, a board game, a new toy, or the smile of a nurse, doctor, or other staff member. Hope was one of the watchwords for my wife and me while our daughter received chemotherapy on the 8th floor of the Medical Center. Our family motto was then and remains today: Hope changes everything.


Emma turned eight during her third and final round of chemotherapy prior to receiving a life-saving bone-marrow transplant from her brother. While a hospital is probably not the place that any child would choose to celebrate a birthday, the child-life specialists at Connecticut Children’s worked to make it an extraordinary and special birthday for Emma. You should have seen the look of wonderment in her eyes as she unwrapped a shiny new Nintendo 3DS. Emma’s gift came by way of the generosity of others. That gift had far more value to my daughter than its monetary worth. Emma’s gift was priceless; her smile was memorable; the hope was lasting.

Thanks to the generosity of so many, not only during the holiday season but throughout the year, many more children just like my daughter will have hope for the holidays. As these children and their families seek for some measure of normalcy in their new normal of hospital life, these gifts will bring smiles and perhaps, even for a small moment, they won’t be a patient in the hospital, but a child with a new toy for Christmas.

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