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Dana-Farber Hosts Surprise Party for Bellingham Teen’s HS Graduation

Bellingham resident Michael Ingram, 18, enjoys a high school graduation surprise party organized by clinical team members including oncology nurse Lauren McCarthy, RN, (pictured at right) on June 5 at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center at Milford Regional Medical Center. (Photo courtesy of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)

Eighteen-year-old Michael Ingram received a double dose of positivity on June 5 at the Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center at Milford Regional Medical Center. First, the Bellingham resident learned from his oncologist, Humberto Rossi, MD, that his lymphoma is in remission and his treatment is going according to plan. Then the entire clinical team hosted a surprise party to celebrate his upcoming high school graduation.
After sharing the good news during their appointment, Rossi led Ingram down a hallway lined on both sides with applauding staff members while the graduation march “Pomp and Circumstance” played in the background.  Inside a cheerfully decorated infusion room, Ingram was presented with a cake and poster board that read, “Happy graduation from your Dana-Farber family,” along with warm messages of congratulations, inspiration, and hope from dozens of clinicians.
“I was shocked. Then I started tearing up a little,” said Ingram, who will walk in his graduation ceremony at Bellingham High School on Friday evening, June 7. “It showed me how many people care and are willing to take extra steps to make me feel special. It made me really happy.”
Even though Ingram suffered from debilitating fatigue for several weeks last winter, he was shocked when a blood test revealed cancer on January 19, 2024.
“It was heart-dropping to hear,” Ingram said. “Cancer just isn’t something I ever thought about getting or being around.”
At first, Ingram said he only shared the diagnosis with his family and a close group of friends because he worried about being treated differently.
“I wanted to feel like a normal kid,” he said. “I’m still Michael.”
In addition to his support network, Ingram said he appreciates Rossi for patiently answering every question and helping him fully understand his disease and treatment procedures. He also praised the nursing team for being “super nice.”
“They listen when I need to talk, and when I need my space, they give it to me,” he added. “Because of them, I was calm the whole time and never worried about anything. They made me feel safe and like I’m going to be good. Which I am.”
Oncology nurse Lauren McCarthy, RN, said this was the first school graduation celebration she helped organize, though clinicians regularly acknowledge patients’ birthdays, the halfway point of treatment, and a patient’s final infusion.
“We see patients at what is often the most difficult time in their and their family’s lives, so we love to make a big deal of milestones and special moments,” McCarthy said. In fact, Ingram’s celebration was a joyful team effort with special contributions from oncology social worker Kimberly Kisil, LICSW; oncology nurse navigator Stephanie Girouard, RN; staff nurses Mary-Beth Proulx, RN, and Patricia Silva, RN; and Kelly Veneziano, CA.
Rossi said he felt privileged to participate in the graduation celebration.
“I really admire Michael’s determination and resilience. This treatment course is intense and has been disruptive at an important time in his life,” Rossi said. “Michael is brave and tenacious, and he has had lots of support from family, friends, and the dedicated professionals at Dana-Farber Brigham at Milford. We congratulate Michael on his big day!”
For more information on the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, visit
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