When our daughter, Michelle was diagnosed with malignant thymoma in January 2000, an overwhelming amount of support came from Trinitya Catholic High School in Manchester, New Hampshire where for six years she had taught English and coached cross-country running as well as track. Throughout Michelle's surgery, treatment and recovery the students, faculty, staff and alumni stood behind her, fighting with her every step of the way. (see Michelle's Story)
One of the school's most meaningful gifts was a donation to Massachusetts General Hospital where Michelle's surgery and treatment were taking place. It started with a little purple ribbon. The high school nurse made small, purple ribbon pins in the shape of a necktiean article of clothing Michelle wore to school the day she was to announce her upcoming surgery, hoping to add a bit of fun and distraction to the difficult day ahead. The pins, known as "Malignant Thymoma Awareness Pins," were distributed at school assemblies and to family and friends. People then started offering donations to show their support. In Michelle's honor, the school donated all proceeds to MGH in support of Thymoma Cancer research.
Inspired by her school's generosity, Michelle made a personal contribution to Thymoma Cancer research at MGH. It was then that we became aware that the gifts already donated could only go into a general fund.
But in the spring of 2001 she received a surprisea surprise that in time may help physicians find a cure for this disease. To help support research efforts in Malignant Thymoma at MGH, we established a fund in her name: The Mass. General Hospital Michelle Cadorette Malignant Thymoma Fund. Our Development Office liaison, Amy Fontanella, graciously assisted us by moving the first donations into our new fund. Michelle's physician, Panos Fidias, MD, Clinical Director, Center for Thoracic Cancers at MGH, also assisted us in establishing the fund.
"This is the first fund of its kind at the MGH and a most welcome one," he said. "Malignant Thymoma is an extremely rare form of cancer, one that the MGH only sees a handful of each year. And because so little is known about this disease, through Michelle's fund we hope to learn more, to discover more. Our goal is to find a cure."
In the Fall of 2001, a year and a half after Michelle's surgery, treatment and recovery, she took a new teaching position at Bow High School in Bow, New Hampshire. In November 2004 one of her cross-country runners, Geoff McDonald, planned and organized a road race as his Senior Project. When he learned of his Coach's Fund he dedicated himself to contributing all proceeds from the raceover $2,000to MGH.
Then in May 2005 another of Michelle's runners, Kara Dugas, followed suit, raising over $3,000 for the fund with her "Purple Ribbon Run." Cross-country runner Gretchen Andrus became a Senior in the Fall of 2005 and organized a race that brought in another $3,000! The Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2006 enticed Senior, Casey Bessette, to Orlando to run for her Coach. Pledges of $4,000 were sent along to Mass. General through Casey's efforts.
Races were organized by Seniors Kevin Bosse in the Fall of 2006, Taylor Phelps - Spring 2007 and Beth Penney in November 2007. In 2008 Coach Maxfield and dedicated staff members at Bow High School assumed the responsibilities of managing this annual event.
The Cadorette Family is so grateful for the abundance of love and support that has poured forth for Michelle and the fund. To date, the Michelle Cadorette Thymoma Fund has raised over $100,000 thanks to the generosity of many wonderful friends, students and family members. As a result a Thymoma Tissue Bank has been established at MGH. The hope that this provides for research and a cure is truly amazing. Hospitals from all over the country can provide malignant thymoma tissue to this bank, since there isn't another one in existence. Then the tissue can be utilized for basic research, as well as tested with new or existing drugs to see what might become an effective treatment for Thymoma. The tissue bank provides a centralized location for research and study of this rare disease.
Read about the additional projects that have been undertaken because of the generosity of our donors: genetic testing and next generation sequencing to understand metastasis.
We look forward to extending the support for this cause beyond our good friends and families. If you have been diagnosed with thymoma and friends want to help, please make them aware of this site and the MGH Fund. Contributions for Memorial gifts are also possible. Names will appear in the Donor List section of this website.