Ethan Geller I Goryeb Children’s Hospital Patient Story

During the Growing Forward Campaign Kickoff on December 3, 2019, eleven-year-old Ethan Geller spoke about the experience he and his family had at the Valerie Fund Children’s Center at Goryeb Children's Hospital as a brain cancer patient. Today, thanks to the support of his care team and his family, Ethan is cancer free.

My name is Ethan Geller. When I was in first grade I started having headaches every day. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving in 2015 I had my first MRI. The next day my mom and dad told me I was going to have brain surgery. I had a brain tumor. My mom and dad were crying but I didn’t fully understand what this meant.

I had surgery the next Monday and spent a week in Goryeb Hospital. My memory of that week is sitting on the hospital bed trading football cards with my bestfriend, Chase. My parents remember all of the attention we got. They said every detail was discussed with them.

Soon after the surgery it was confirmed that I had cancer. Over the next year and a half, I went to the Valerie Center and Goryeb for my treatment. I would go to the Valerie Center each week and sit on the couch and play with the iPad. I learned to play chess from the teacher volunteer there. My mom made me do my homework every day. She would sometimes walk into the hall so she could call the insurance company, work or update my dad or grandma. I felt so comfortable with the staff at the Valerie Center. They treated me like I was a regular kid. I would spend hours there getting chemo, blood transfusions and waiting for blood work. I know my mom loved the Valerie Center because she was always catching up with the nurses. She says she felt included in all of the decisions and that at any time she could talk to them about my care.

I spent nine rounds of chemo overnight in the hospital. The therapy dogs would come around and visit. They had something similar to baseball cards for each dog and I liked to collect them. The clown did the same corny jokes and magic, but she was upbeat. My mom made me walk the halls of the pediatric floor to get exercise and she pulled books from the lounge area that she would read to me. I remember lying in the hospital bed with her and watching the world series. I also remember going to the Mo'Town Café for dinner when my dad would bring my brothers to visit. My mom says she remembers how quiet it was on the floor at night.

My mom says being close to the hospital made it possible for her and my dad to split their time between me and my brothers. Going to the hospital became routine, and the familiarity was comforting. I only go back there for checkups now that I’m cancer free.

You can listen to the full audio of Ethan's speech or contact Gerri Kling, foundation officer, to learn how you can help support programs at the Valerie Fund Children's Center at Goryeb Children's Hospital. 

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