Serious illness can take a toll on family and friends as well as patients. Bedside visits bring comfort to patients and loved ones alike, renewing familiar and cherished connections. But when Eileen McGuirk entered the Mass General Cancer Center for treatment, she was overwhelmed by a nonstop flow of visitors.
A teacher in Danvers, Mass., Eileen considered herself fortunate to have many friends and family who live nearby. But the volume of visits was depleting energy she needed for healing. Her husband Doug devised a creative solution that enabled Eileen to connect with her friends and let them express their affection and support.
Using social media tools, her daughter Erin rallied Eileen’s friends and co-workers to organize a flash mob-style celebration they could stage within view of her 21st-floor hospital room.
More than 200 friends and co-workers gathered the next day, holding signs aloft, executing a synchronized wave and performing a loosely choreographed dance. Eileen watched in wonder from her hospital room, and, via cell phone, spoke with various friends. Concluding with a memorable finale, the group spread out to form a giant heart.
“When you feel helpless,” said Eileen’s friend, Jennifer Mscisz, “this was a way for everyone to get together and kind of lift her spirits and let her know how much we love her and care for her.”