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Strong as iron: in honor of children cancer victims

Strong as iron: in honor of children cancer victimsOne cold day in January, somebody spray-painted names on steel beams in an ongoing construction site as a group of people watched from the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge Bridge. No, it’s not a case of vandalism. The sprayer was an iron-worker and among his audience were a lot of children. The scene describe happened on January 29 this year at the construction site of the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care (YCCC) and the names on the beams spray-painted in neon colors are those of pediatric cancer patients. YCCC will be the state-of-the-art outpatient cancer care and clinical research facility in the Longwood campus of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Many others cheered on the spray painters from the adjacent clinic windows.

For the Institute, this way of honoring cancer patients has become a ritual. It was first done in 1996 during the construction of a research lab next to YCCC. In fact, it was documented in an award-winning short film called “Strong as Iron.” which helped raise funds for the Institute. Click here for the trailer.

This year’s name spraying ritual was no less moving. Aside from spray painting the children’s names, short inspirational messages and smileys, as well as adult patient’s names were also added.

It’s a simple token and the beams will soon be covered as the construction progresses. But the gesture brought smiles and happiness to the young patients whose days are probably filled with dread and pain of chemotherapy. Even the hardened construction workers were so moved at the little ones’ gratitude that they spontaneously “passed the hard hat” to collect donations for the Institute’s Jimmy Fund.

The steel framing and the spray painting will continue till spring time so if you are in the area, drop by and check it out and pay homage to this unique way of honouring our cancer heroes.


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