Nurse with brain cancer prepares Christmas decorations and newborn gifts as part of therapy

Patricia White has been on leave since September, but that hasn't kept her from being involved in making the holiday special for new parents at Mount Auburn Hospital.

Patricia White (left) and Jane Dubrule at Mount Auburn Hospital.
Patricia White (left) and Jane Dubrule at Mount Auburn Hospital. –Courtesy Mount Auburn Hospital

When Jane Dubrule, a nurse at Mount Auburn Hospital, decided to decorate the maternity ward it brought the team together. When she found a way to include Patricia White, a maternity nurse who is on medical leave for brain cancer treatment, it meant even more, Dubrule told Boston.com.

This is Dubrule’s second Christmas at Mount Auburn, and she’s had several parents and co-workers mention the decorations to her. She thought about decorating last year, but didn’t want to bring it up when she was new to the Cambridge hospital. After White started to feel better close to the holiday, she thought it would be a good project for the two of them.

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“I thought it would be a good idea for her to help at work, participating in decorating and helping buy these things,” Dubrule said.

White stopped working in September, leading her co-workers to start multiple projects to support her. Courtney O’Connell, another nurse in the department, designed shirts that the nurses sold to raise funds for her. Another nurse led a project to get bracelets that say “Mount Auburn supports Trish.” Dubrule wears hers every night. Nurses have also donated a collective seven weeks of earned vacation time to White.

Newborn Holiday Kits
Newborn holiday kits prepared by Patricia White and Jane Dubrule. —Courtesy Mount Auburn Hospital

“It’s a wonderful group of people who work on this unit,” she said. “We know each other, and we know how to help each other. We wouldn’t think of not helping the next person, that’s just the kind of unit we’ve always been.”

Dubrule and White have also made more than 70 holiday kits for newborns, according to a press release from the hospital. Each includes a swaddling blanket and an ornament for the new baby at no cost to the parents.

White has bought fabric and helped put the kits together as part of her occupational therapy. For Dubrule, this makes it more special, even if the parents often don’t know her story.

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“For us … it means she’s getting closer to coming back to us and being able to do the things she used to be able to do before,” she said. “We just want her to get back to work and get where she can be back with us again.”

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