A fund for socks and other essentials for patients with brain tumors
December 23 will always have special meaning for Mary Siereveld. On that date in 2005 the Kentucky schoolteacher underwent brain surgery at the UC Medical Center in Cincinnati. John M. Tew, MD, a neurosurgeon with the Mayfield Clinic and the Brain Tumor Center at the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute, removed a 1½-inch by 2-inch tumor that was pressing on Mary’s brainstem. Mary spent Christmas in the hospital, recovering. She also spent many hours thinking about Christmas and the values that were most important to her.
In past years Mary had been immersed in the decorative trappings of Christmas. “My thoughts of Christmas had always been Martha Stewart-like: every corner decorated with red and green, lighted candles in every window, a garland around the front door, cookies baked, all the presents wrapped under the tree, and a from-scratch Betty Crocker fruitcake,” Mary recalls.
But during her stay on the neuroscience floor at the UC Medical Center, her most treasured moments had nothing to do with garlands or wrapping. They included, rather, a kindly visit from two strangers, her first shower after surgery, fresh hospital socks each day, and a lengthy conversation with Dr. Tew on Christmas Day.
“Martha Stewart never came calling that year,” Mary says. “God had other plans for me. Now that I look back, it was the best Christmas ever for me. Angels disguised as doctors, nurses, and hospital staff were so attentive to my needs.”
Every year since then, on December 23, Mary returns to the hospital with a heartfelt letter and simple gift for patients who are staying on the neuroscience floor. The gift is a pair of fuzzy socks. “A fresh, clean pair of hospital-issue socks was something that I looked forward to each day,” she remembers. “They were warm. They were versatile. I wore them all day and all night. With the help of a physical therapist, I walked up and down the halls a few times a day in them. It was a small thing, but I grew to love them each day when I received them. They symbolized consistency, and they were tangible things that were literally taking me down the road to recovery.”
In 2009 Mary and the UC Health Foundation established Mary’s Socks Fund. The fund provides socks for patients with brain tumors during the holidays and also helps to fill basic, unmet needs for patients who experience significant hardship during their illness and hospitalization.
To make a donation to Mary’s Socks Fund through the UC Health Foundation, please contact:
Associate Director of Development
UC Medical Center
254 Goodman Street
Cincinnati, OH 45219