• Cancer Patient Stories

    Suiting up for a celebration

Curtis and three people with his orange shirts on

"My sweet boy," Deborah Morey said as she practically skipped across the room to join him in a group photograph. The boy is her son, 15-year-old Curtis Morey, who was diagnosed with medulloblastoma (a type of brain tumor) on Jan. 27, 2012. The skipping at his Mayo appointment last week was one of several signs that March 28, 2013, was a happier milestone in Curtis' medical adventure.

When the Moreys arrived for the appointment, Deborah was wearing a blaze-orange T-shirt with Curtis' picture on the front and the word "Curtify" printed across the back. Perhaps more surprising, the clinical assistant who greeted them wore a matching T-shirt. Inside, Curtis' doctor, Amulya Nageswara Rao, M.B.B.S., of the Mayo Clinic Children's Center, was (you guessed it) also was wearing the same shirt. The emotion in the room was palpable, a mixture of relief and elation. And for good reason -- last Thursday marked the beginning of Curtis' last chemotherapy treatment.

Earlier that week, Deborah Morey had written a heartfelt letter to Dr. Rao. She began by saying, "Mayo simply saved our son's life." She went on to thank Dr. Rao for "listening to our concerns, fears and desires, and for your respectful nature, amazing professionalism and unsurpassed medical knowledge demonstrated this whole journey." And while admitting she wished they'd have never had to meet, "Given the circumstances, there is no one I would have rather had as part of our journey," Deborah wrote.

Along with the letter, she enclosed a T-shirt and relayed her wish that Dr. Rao wear it to commemorate the joyous occasion of his last chemotherapy session and to surprise Curtis.

As the photo shows, Dr. Rao and her staff were more than happy to oblige. "Being diagnosed with cancer and going through the treatment is like a triple marathon for our young patients and their families," Dr. Rao says. "It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of this exceptionally determined young man's journey. The greatest gifts are cherished moments like these that we share with our patients and families."

So what is "Curtify," you ask? "It's just a nickname my high school friends call me," explained a beaming Curtis. Another possible interpretation may be captured in the close of Deborah Morey's letter, where she writes, "We are forever indebted that Curtis was able to have the best care in the world and that he is still here with us and pressing forward one year later."

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