As Aimee Fellows watched Dr. Liliana Goumnerova play piano during a Boston Children’s Hospital Christmas concert this December, she couldn’t help but think of how the surgeon’s delicate fingers were the same ones that had touched—and ultimately healed—her daughter’s brain at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.
Fellows’s now 10-year-old daughter, Sophie, was playing violin alongside Goumnerova, director of pediatric neurosurgical oncology.
This is the second time Sophie’s parents had seen a concert inside the hospital, but they didn’t sit through this year’s with the same anguish they felt at the previous one. In December 2014, they had watched Sophie play on stage a day before she would undergo surgery to remove a brain tumor.
Everything started earlier that month, on what seemed like a parent’s perfect night: watching their 9-year-old daughter play violin during a concert in Vermont. But what should have been a sweet holiday celebration turned into a nightmare when the Fellows had to rush their daughter to the emergency room. Sophie had had a headache during her performance, but she had tried to ignore it. Until she couldn’t. When her parents took her to the hospital the next day, doctors diagnosed Sophie with a brain tumor.
With her friends and music teacher gathered in a Boston Children’s Hospital room last December, Sophie was able to finish that Christmas concert only a day before her scheduled surgery.
“It was bittersweet,’’ Aimee Fellows says in the video above about Sophie’s journey. “I was fearful that I was watching my 9-year-old perform this talent perhaps for the last time.’’
The Fellows waited an agonizing seven and a half hours while surgeons at Boston Children’s Hospital performed Sophie’s complicated procedure, hoping to remove the tumor and cure Sophie while still preserving her ability to play violin.
This December, a year after that tense Christmas concert, the Fellows were back in the Boston Children’s Hospital, this time to watch Sophie play violin alongside the same doctor who performed Sophie’s surgery. Goumnerova started playing piano around the same age Sophie started with the violin; she says in the video that that created a bond between them.
“I was thinking about Dr. Goumnerova’s delicate hands, watching her fingers playing the piano,’’ Aimee told the Boston Children’s Hospital in a blog post. “Those are the fingers that were working on Sophie’s brain.’’