As a radiation therapist, I took care of an 8-year-old boy named Troy who showed me that strength, courage and faith can help a young man in a terminal struggle with a rhabdomyosarcoma of the thigh.

Troy spent his last year of life in the hospital and never complained about his pain and discomfort. I would treat his metastatic cancer and when I was on break, I would go see him in his room at the children’s hospital. 

I saw him comfort his mother and father when they were in the pits of despair, and he would always have a smile for me when I came to see him. He was always zealous and enthusiastic and tried to make his upside down world seem as normal as possible. Even when he was wasting away physically, his smile had a glow of wellness that was so moving. 

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Thirty years ago, Troy made a ceramic cup for me and engraved it with the words, “To my friend Joe.” He told me just before he passed not to worry or be sad, because he was going to heaven to be with Jesus where there was no pain. Just as Troy molded that cup, he helped mold me into what I hope is the most compassionate caregiver I can be.

Tell us about your most memorable patient by December 15, 2010, and you’ll be eligible to win an Apple iPad!