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New England Patriot Zoltan Mesko spends time with two young cancer patients Aydan Arsenault, left, and Sean O'Donoghue, right, during his visit to Radiation Oncology.
Squeezing his 6-foot-5-inch frame into a tiny chair, Zoltan Mesko sat down next to two young cancer patients and picked up a paint brush. "I need some help painting," 3-year-old Aydan Arsenault informed the New England Patriots punter.
Mesko got to work helping Aydan and 4-year-old Sean O'Donaghue paint little wooden dinosaurs and cars, chatting easily with them as the two boys waited for their radiation treatments in the children's waiting room in BWH Radiation Oncology.
Mesko's visit to BWH Nov. 2 lifted the spirits of many patients waiting for radiation as he signed autographs, handed out mini footballs and books and posed for dozens of pictures with fans. The visit was part of the Kick Cancer awareness initiative, a collaboration among the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation and BWH, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Mass General.
"It was quite the surprise," said David Paletsky, one of the BWH patients who spoke with the football player. "I appreciate all his positive support for the treatment I'm going through. It was a real thrill, and it meant a lot to me."
Mesko's visit was the latest in a series of cancer screening awareness events hosted by BWH in collaboration with the Patriots. Last month, New England Patriot Hall of Famer John Hannah visited Tower 7, spending hours talking to patients about his days in the NFL and the team's recent success.
And during the Oct. 31 game, BWHers teamed up to provide information about November as Lung Cancer Awareness Month and the importance of living smoke-free to more than 68,000 fans who packed a sold-out Gillette Stadium.
The 60 volunteers staffed informational tables at eight locations inside and outside the stadium and distributed more than 35,000 informational giveaways. BWH President Betsy Nabel, MD, visited tables during the game to thank the volunteers. "I truly appreciate their enthusiasm and dedication," she said. "It's so important that we, as an academic medical center, reach out to people to educate them about the impact of smoking as a leading cause of lung cancer and all cancers."
Also cheering for the Patriots that day were 18 lucky BWHers who won tickets after donating blood at the BWH Blood Donor Center, part of a promotion with the Patriots Charitable Foundation's Kick Cancer awareness initiative.
From left, Cynthia Peterson, Melissa Griffin, Betsy Nabel, Jessica Carbone and Amanda Kiddie.
View an audio slide show of Zoltan Mesko's visit to BWH.