Winter Wonderland brings magic to Jimmy Fund Clinic

Photos by John Deputy and Sam Ogden

Alexandra Lecomte knew she’d be getting a chemotherapy infusion when she came to the Jimmy Fund Clinic last week, but the 13-year-old Ewing’s Sarcoma patient never imagined she’d also be juggling rubber chickens.

“Hey, I need a new assistant – you up for the job?” juggler Benjamin Elfant asked a smiling Lecomte as they tossed faux poultry back and forth by her infusion chair. “This is awesome, it makes you feel happier,” Lecomte said after their impromptu show.

The gleaming new Jimmy Fund Clinic on Dana 3 took on an extra shine from Dec. 15-19, as it hosted its annual Winter Wonderland program. The week included festive holiday decorations, cookie decorating, winter crafts, and daily visits from magicians, jugglers, and Santa and his elves (with Pediatric Oncology Fellows, as always, handling the elf duties).

“This place transforms – it’s a week when everyone believes in the magic of the season,” says Lisa Scherber, director of patient and family programs at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, who started the Winter Wonderland program in 2008. “When you see teenagers pumped to see Santa, that’s just awesome.”

It’s not just the teens and younger patients who get into the spirit either.

“Lisa and the specialists work so hard to make it special for the kids, but it’s special for us too,” says Tracy Ryle, RN, BSN, a clinic nurse. “This is a tough place to deal with for families at any time of the year, but especially around the holidays. For patients to see their children smile, it’s just a wonderful thing for them and for us.”

Count juggler apprentice Alexandra’s parents, John and Kelly, among those delighted moms and dads.

“Twenty minutes ago, she was feeling pretty crummy,” said Kelly Lecomte, looking around at the balloons of snowflakes and snowmen around the infusion area. "Anything that helps take their mind off of the treatment and makes them feel whole again is a welcome distraction.” 

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