A Wish to Build a Dream On

The refrain of a song made famous by Louis Armstrong goes, “Give me a kiss to build a dream on / And my imagination with thrive upon that kiss.” The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Dream Team receives wishes from MSK’s adult patients upon which they build dreams. 

MSK Dream Team San Francisco trip

Established in 1988, the Dream Team hears of patients’ desires through MSK’s social workers, physicians, and nurses. The requests run the gamut, from the simple, like a robe and slippers, to the more complex, like bringing together family members from around the world. Dream Team members, who remain anonymous, use their own resources to make patients’ dreams come true. (During the holidays, The Society’s Administrative Board and the Associates Committee also choose one dream each to fulfill.)
 

Lucy’s Dream

Lucy*, 58, and her husband, Keith*, have both been patients at MSK, traveling from Vermont to receive treatment here. In 2014, Keith completed treatment for rectal cancer. But Lucy’s treatment for breast cancer and, later, for melanoma has gone on longer, and it’s been a rocky road.
 
After surgery for breast cancer, Lucy’s recovery was complicated by an infection. Then a lymph node unexpectedly showed that the disease had spread. Her treatment plan changed to the most aggressive form of chemotherapy, which resulted in multiple side effects and a brief stay in the hospital.
 
Then, at her second-to-last chemotherapy appointment, a worrisome lesion was discovered on the bottom of her foot. Sadly, a biopsy of the lesion showed it to be a melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. After completing chemotherapy, Lucy had major surgery on her foot, followed by a course of radiation therapy.
 
Before her melanoma surgery, both she and Keith needed a getaway where they could relax and forget about her medical problems for a little while. The Dream Team stepped up to send them to Fort Lauderdale.
 
“We had the best time,” says Lucy. “The accommodations and the special treatment we received — and the over-the-top goody basket — gave us just the break and pampering we needed.”
 

Susan’s Dream

Fifty-four-year-old Susan* endured multiple treatments for aggressive metastatic breast cancer and was being treated with chemotherapy at the time she expressed a passionate interest in fashion. She was delighted to learn that the Dream Team had arranged for her to attend the legendary New York Fashion Week.
 
But the dream included even more than that: Dream Team members set up a backstage pass and a meeting with Susan’s favorite designer, Carolina Herrera. “I was overjoyed to attend Fashion Week and to meet Carolina Herrera,” Susan said. “When we were backstage we were able to see the clothes up close and they were more beautiful than any image. Carolina herself was extremely gracious and her entire staff was so very kind to us. It was a great day and I thank the Dream Team for making my visit possible.”
 
Susan has since passed away.
 

Lourdes’s Dream

“What a special gift!” says Lourdes*, a 56-year-old woman with progressive metastatic colorectal cancer who is now receiving supportive care for her disease. Originally from the Philippines, Lourdes has lived in the United States for 25 years, working as a logistics coordinator for exports in the lace fabric industry.
 
Lourdes has had a longstanding desire to travel but never had the resources to do so. Her medical team learned that before she passed away she wanted an opportunity to travel with her husband, son, and daughter to a beautiful location where they could sightsee and enjoy themselves as a family.
 
The Dream Team fulfilled Lourdes’s wish by sending them on a vacation to San Francisco. “It was wonderful to be able to see an incredible city and spend this precious time with my husband, son, and daughter,” Lourdes says.
 
*Names changed to protect patient privacy.