A Wish To Build A Dream On*

Karen Marquadt is an ovarian cancer survivor. On April 13, 2009, Karen’s oncologist informed her that she had only three weeks to live.  Throughout her life, Karen had one dream:  To attend a legendary Bruce Springsteen live concert and actually meet “The Boss.” …The Dream Foundation is the first and largest national nonprofit wish-granting organization for adults with life-limiting illness.  The Dream Foundation arranged for Karen and her three friends to attend Springsteen’s live Los Angeles performance on Thursday, April 16.  What Karen did not not know was that the Dream Foundation also arranged for her to meet Springsteen in person prior to the concert. …On April 9, 2009, NBC’s TODAY Show featured the incredible story of Jill and her only daughter Caitlin, and their journey together down the church isle as part of Caitlin’s wedding ceremony.  Jill is not an ordinary mother of the bride; she is an ovarian cancer suvivor who was diagnosed with the disease in 2007. …Because of the charitable actions of the The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s (MSKCC) “Dream Team,” Jill was able to see her daughter Caitlin get married. …


A Bruce Springsteen Fan’s Last Wish:  To See “The Boss” Live.

Karen Marquadt is an ovarian cancer survivor. On April 13, 2009, Karen’s oncologist informed her that she had only three weeks to live.  Throughout her life, Karen had one dream:  To attend a legendary Bruce Springsteen live concert and actually meet “The Boss.”

On April 14, 2009, Karen’s social worker contacted the Dream Foundation with Karen’s request. The Dream Foundation is the first and largest national nonprofit wish-granting organization for adults with life-limiting illness.  The Dream Foundation arranged for Karen and her three friends to attend Springsteen’s live Los Angeles performance on Thursday, April 16.  What Karen did not know was that the Dream Foundation also arranged for her to meet Springsteen in person prior to the concert.

Fifteen minutes before the concert began, Bruce greeted Karen and autographed a record and book that she brought with her.  Springsteen even took the time to pose with Karen for several photographs.  To see Karen’s photographs with Bruce Springsteen, which are posted at ARTISTdirect.com, click here. Michele Nichols of the Dream Foundation commented to ARTISTdirect.com (a charitable partner of the Dream Foundation) that “[h]e [Springsteen] was so focused on her. It was just a beautiful and tender moment to experience. He went far beyond our expectations, but that’s the kind of guy Bruce is.”  Karen was surprised further when Bruce dedicated his song “Backstreets” to Karen during the live performance to the cheers of an adoring audience.

Karen described her extraordinary experience to ARTISTdirect.com:  “To get the most devastating news of your whole life and then get the best news of your life in one week was crazy, but Dream Foundation made me feel like ‘Queen for a Day.'”  When asked to put Springsteen and his music in context, Karen said: “Bruce made me so happy for so many years. He’s been the one entity that has been there all my life to make me happy, and here, he showed up for me. He was so gentle, and he’s just what I thought he would be.”

Oscar Wilde wrote that “[l]ife imitates art far more than art imitates life.”   It certainly appears that Karen’s special evening with Springsteen, as arranged by the Dream Foundation, makes good on Wilde’s aphorism, especially when one considers that the title of Bruce Springsteen’s new album is Working On a Dream.

I “discovered” Bruce Springsteen in summer 1975 after he released the song Born to Run on his critically acclaimed 3rd album bearing the same name.  In October 1975, Springsteen appeared simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek.  And, as they say, “the rest is history.”  The Bruce Springsteen video below is dedicated to Karen and her fulfillment of a life-long dream.

A Mother’s Last Wish:   To See Her Daughter Wed

On April 9, 2009,  NBC’s TODAY Show featured the incredible story of Jill and her only daughter Caitlin, and their journey together down the church isle as part of Caitlin’s wedding ceremony.  Jill is not an ordinary mother of the bride; she is an ovarian cancer survivor who was diagnosed with the disease in 2007.  An emotional Caitlin told the TODAY Show: “My grandparents pulled me aside and they told me she had cancer, and it just broke my heart. My mom is such a good person. She doesn’t deserve it.”  Jill tried radiation and chemotherapy to battle her ovarian cancer over the past two years but the treatments proved unsuccessful.  For this reason, Jill decided to stop treatment and live out her days in her own home.

Jill’s decision to forego additional medical treatment created a dilemma for her daughter Caitlin.  Jill explained that “[t]hey (Caitlin and fiancé Jim) were going to get married next fall, then they saw what I looked like back in January when they came to visit me. They surprised me the following week by calling me and telling me they had moved the wedding up, and I knew exactly why.” According to Caitlin, the couple decided to wed on March 21st so that Jill could attend.  Caitlin said: “She’s my maid of honor so I really wanted my mom to be there and see me get married.” As is often the case, the cost of Jill’s ovarian cancer treatment left the family financially distressed with little hope of funding a wedding. Because of the charitable actions of the The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s (MSKCC) “Dream Team,” Jill was able to see her daughter Caitlin get married.

The Society of MSKCC’s Dream Team was established in 1988.  The Dream Team seeks to fulfill the dreams of MSKCC’s adult patients. The wishes are brought to the team’s attention by MSKCC’s social workers, physicians, and nurses, and run the gamut — from a simple request for a robe and slippers, to the more complex, such as bringing together family members from around the world.  Dream Team members — who remain anonymous — use their own resources to make patients’ dreams come true.  The Dream Team volunteered to cover the entire cost of the wedding including the cost of the flowers, wedding cake, wedding planner and wedding photographer.

On March 21, 2009, Jim and Caitlin’s wedding took place at Assumption Church in Peekskill, N.Y., and was followed by a reception at the Riverbend Condominium Complex.  In fact,  Jill (as maid of honor) walked Caitlin down the aisle in front of 50 awe-inspired guests.

Jill and Caitlin were grateful for the actions taken by The Dream Team and fully understood the importance of the moment. “I feel good that I got to be there and I got to give her away,” Jill explained to the TODAY Show. “My one and only child — she’s my baby.”  An appreciative Caitlin added, “I’m glad my mother was there to see everything and be there. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

About The Dream Foundation

Dream Foundation, founded in Santa Barbara in 1994 by Thomas Rollerson, is the first national wish granting organization for adults suffering life-limiting illness.  The mission of the Dream Foundation is to enhance the quality of life for individuals, and their families, at the end of life’s journey. Dream Foundation helps adults find peace and closure with the realization of a final wish.  The work of Dream Foundation is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Odyssey VistaCare HealthCare Foundation.  To learn more go to http://www.dreamfoundation.org.

About the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center & the Society’s Dream Team.

The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has played a vital role in the Center’s success for more than 60 years. Founded in 1946 by a small number of dedicated women, The Society is now a flourishing volunteer organization whose Administrative Board of 100 women and men take part in more than 20 committees dedicated to promoting the well-being of patients, supporting cancer research, and providing public education on the prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer. In addition, the general members of  The Society, numbering an additional 400 people, show their support for the organization’s goals through their membership and participation in Society programs, in addition to introducing friends to The Society.  Established in 1988, The Society’s Dream Team seeks to fulfill the dreams of the Center’s adult patients. The wishes are brought to the team’s attention by the Center’s social workers, physicians, and nurses, and run the gamut — from a simple request for a robe and slippers, to the more complex, such as bringing together family members from around the world. Dream Team members — who remain anonymous — use their own resources to make patients’ dreams come true.  To learn more go to http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/1087.cfm.

Sources:

*Post Title:  The post title, A Wish To Build A Dream On, was inspired by the title of the iconic song by Louis Armstrong entitled, A Kiss to Build a Dream On.  The song appears on Armstrong’s 1949 album entitled, Louis Armstrong – All Time Greatest Hits.  To view a video of Louis Armstrong singing this song, click here.

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