Allyson Preston, M.D.
For 30 years, North Shore Medical Center has been my professional home and the North Shore my community. As a staff physician and now Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NSMC, I’ve been proud to be part of a team that delivers world-class, locally based medical care to thousands of patients each year. But when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, I began to appreciate NSMC in a very different way. I received all of my treatment—from testing to surgery to chemotherapy—at North Shore Medical Center and the Mass General/North Shore Cancer Center. Stepping through the door as a patient that first day was unnerving, but I immediately felt wrapped in a blanket of caring and competence. The high level of care didn’t at all surprise me, but it had new meaning being on the receiving side.I’ve been participating in the Cancer WALK for many years. When I began my children were in strollers; now my 9-year-old granddaughter is participating for the second time. One of the most special aspects of the WALK is that it provides a patient’s family and friends with a tangible way to contribute and make a difference. A cancer diagnosis is hard on anyone, but when you see the number of other people who turn out for the WALK you know you’re not alone. I never wanted my name on a t-shirt, and sometimes it still feels surreal that I’ve had cancer. But my experience has convinced me more than ever that NSMC is a treasure in our community and I want to help ensure that we can continue to provide excellent, compassionate, and life-saving cancer care.
The Cancer WALK was one of the first community events I became involved in when I moved to the North Shore eight years ago. I thought it would be a good way to give back and to meet new people; I didn’t anticipate that it would become one of my favorite days on the calendar.When I began participating in the WALK, I was part of a large and successful fundraising team from GE. Each year I looked forward to seeing retired and former colleagues who would come back to join in the WALK. I’m with a new company now and am taking that spirit with me, with a goal to expand my network and exceed my past fundraising by 20 percent.The WALK is a day of perspective. You feel the energy among the teams, the physicians, and the staff. Every one of us impacted by cancer, and every WALK participant is carrying someone in his or her heart. For me, it’s my 16-year-old cousin who was successfully treated for a brain tumor when he was 10. He continues to be my motivation to stay involved and raise the bar.A few years ago, I was diagnosed with a benign cyst on my pituitary gland. Through my testing and diagnosis at the Mass General/North Shore Cancer Center, surgery to remove the cyst at Mass General, and continued follow-up at the Center for Outpatient Care in Danvers, I know firsthand the excellent care that NSMC delivers every day and how much it means to have such a resource close to home. Like NSMC, the WALK is the definition of community: people of all backgrounds working toward a common goal in a feeling of commitment and hope.
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