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The Future Zookeeper:
Providing hope for kids like Ian

For a parent, there are few things more frightening than hearing the words, “your child has leukemia.” But Ian is a fighter, and he has Beacon Children’s Hospital in his corner.

Ian is a young boy who loves football, Spider-Man, Star Wars and Legos. But even more than that, he loves animals. “I want to be a zookeeper when I grow up,” he said.

When what seemed like a common cold laid Ian flat for weeks, lethargic and uninterested in any of the activities he loved, his parents sought answers to get their energetic boy back to health.

“When we heard the word ‘leukemia,’ of course we were scared. But Ian’s a fighter,” his mother, Jennifer, said. “We never questioned that Beacon Children’s Hospital was the right place for him. It was so comforting to know that we didn’t have to travel far away for his care.”

Battling cancer – and complications

For Ian, the leukemia battle has been particularly difficult, with countless complications and numerous hospital stays. But Ian, alongside the professionals at Beacon Children’s Hospital, has fought.

“I like to pretend leukemia is a gross little weasel-like animal trying to sneak up on the biggest tiger in the jungle. What would that tiger do to that leukemia!”

His parents don’t think they could have gotten through it without the care and support they received from Beacon Children’s Hospital.

“They all have your best interests at heart. It’s been unbelievable,” said Kevin, Ian’s dad. “The amount of care the nurses, doctors and therapists shower upon us … Just to have that feeling, like, ‘we’re here with you, we know what you’re going through and we’re going to help you’ – it’s so welcoming, so warm.”

There – every step of the way

Child Life Specialist Becky Wachs was particularly close to Ian from Day One.

Becky is there to help children like Ian cope and process what is going to happen with their care. “I take care of all my patients like I would take care of my own children,” she says. “Ian knows exactly what to expect when he comes in … he knows all of us. He has the same group of nurses working with him every single time.”

Ian’s strength of character is what impresses Becky most about him. “The fact that he has had a multitude of bumps in the road and has continued to come out on top with a smile on his face – it speaks volumes about his personality and the way he lives his life.”

At the end of the day, Becky says it all comes down to listening to the patient and meeting them where they’re at. “It’s the most important lesson we can take from Ian,” Becky says. “It’s a partnership to take care of these kiddos.”

The facilities here are amazing. I can’t say enough about the oncology team and what they mean to our family.

– Ian’s dad

Beacon Health Foundation’s focus is a direct outgrowth of Beacon Health System’s deep commitment to enhancing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of the communities we serve. Our tax exempt identification number is 35-1536129.

*The quotations provided in this article are part of a testimonial from Ian; a patient at Beacon Children’s Hospital.