Dr. Wiedl

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When I was nine, my dad was diagnosed with an oncological disorder. He was given six months to live, but he actually ended up living until I was nineteen. I spent a majority of my childhood in and out of hospitals while he was sick, and because of that, I was able to see the significance of medical research in a way that many people probably don’t. I also watched how the nurses and doctors cared for him — and not just him, but my entire family. It made a huge impression on me. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that I was going into oncology. 

HeroesofRVA DrWiedl

Being a mother has made me a better doctor. I’m always thinking about what I would want if it were my child who was sick. And that, to me, goes beyond the “clinical” treatment. These parents want honesty. We owe them that. If I don’t have the answer, then I tell them that. But I also promise them that I won’t stop working until I find it. That’s exactly what I would want a physician to do for my boys. 

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I was pregnant with my first child while I was doing my residency. The attending physicians warned me that I would never be able to view patients in the same way after he was born. Boy, they were right. When I came back from my maternity leave, I walked into a room to treat one of my first patients — a baby with infantile leukemia, who was about the same age as my son. I had to put myself in time-out because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold myself together while I was in the room.

When you turn on the news, you see so much of the bad stuff. But doing what I do gives me the chance to see so much good in people. These families are going through an unimaginable hell. And yet, I get texts from them thanking me. I have pictures that these kids have made for me hanging up all over my office. And it’s so humbling because they’re the ones in the trenches. In my mind, they’re doing the heavy lifting. I’ve watched some of these parents leave their own child’s bedside to be with the family of another child as they say goodbye to them. There is so much goodness, even in the midst of this incredible heartache.

(Note: These photos were part of a series that ran in September 2016 for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Photographer Kristin Seward spent many hours with the families and staff whom Connor’s Heroes has come to know as we work together to help these brave children and support the research funded through the Connor’s Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. https://www.kristinseward.com)

Funding for childhood cancer research is at the same level when Connor’s Heroes started 10 years ago. As you read the stories, you sense the urgency that these families feel. They can’t wait. Any amount will make a big difference in giving Dr. Wiedl, Dr. Corey and our hero families hope for treating and curing childhood cancer. Your gift will support the Connor’s Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund and the Jamie Hess Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Fund ~ the only two funds at VCU Massey Cancer Center for childhood cancer research.