A Gift for Life

VIDEO | 03:15

Meet the Stuart family and learn about their transformational gift to launch the Lisa and Scott Stuart Center for Adolescent and Young Adult Cancers at MSK.

Show transcript

Scott Stuart:  Jessie was a very talented kid. She was a scholar and an athlete and, to be honest, she was the one we never worried about.

Lisa Stuart:  Jessie had told me that she had a bump on her head, and I felt it and I was like, “Huh?” They did a biopsy. We didn't think anything of it. And then I got a call, and they told us that it was malignant. It was pretty shocking.

Scott Stuart:  But I called my brother, who started his career at MSK, and he said, “Get Jessie to  MSK.”

Jessie Stuart:  So, I was just like taking the afternoon off from school. My dad was to my left, my mom was there, Dr. Trippett, my oncologist, was there. And my dad was the one to tell me, “You have cancer, and we’ll get you through this together.”

Lisa Stuart:  You know they start the treatment the next day. We came back for surgery the next day to put her port in.

Scott Stuart:  In total, it was a 26-month protocol. It’s nonstop.

Jessie Stuart:  I think it was certainly harder for them than it was for me, to have so much uncertainty especially at the beginning.

Lisa Stuart:  Ninth floor is, I know it sounds crazy, it can be a very happy place. It's very life-affirming.  There's a real sense of community, you know, we're all in this together and for each other.

Scott Stuart:  Yeah. I remember the first time I walked in there, and I thought to myself, “Oh, this is where my daughter is going to get better.” That’s the first thing that hit me.

Lisa Stuart:  And we felt the same way about our doctor whom we adored, Dr. Tanya Trippett. I'm convinced we were her favorite patient, maybe Jessie was her favorite patient. We weren’t the patients.

Scott Stuart: There are so many exciting initiatives going on at MSK, but once we heard about the fact that there is this gap in cancer care for the adolescent, young adult community it was obvious that this is where we’d love to support.

And it won't just be developing protocols that will help people get better, but it's also all the psychosocial elements around all that. Whether it's a seventh-grade girl like Jessie or a 22-year-old guy who's starting his career or a 32-year-old, first-time mom. Everybody is going to get better care defined holistically.

Jessie Stuart:  The day I graduated medical school, it was an incredible day. Having the ceremony like on the steps of Harvard Med, having my parents there, it was truly magical, and it’s like a life-changing moment to put those two letters at the end of your name.  So, I’m forever grateful to MSK.  I mean, we owe them everything.

Scott Stuart:  To be able to lend support to all of these talented doctors and scientists is interesting and rewarding, like nothing I've ever been involved in.

Lisa Stuart: I feel so honored to be able to support the place that saved my daughter. It’s that simple.