The very first #BeccaToldMeTo Random Act of Kindness By Dr. Rob Rutledge
Long before her brain tumour had recurred and was dubbed ‘terminal’ Becca was already inspiring Random Acts of Kindness. In the midst of a massive snowstorm in 2015, Becca was receiving daily radiation treatments. She was admitted to the Children’s Hospital in Halifax, suffering from uncontrolled nausea and vomiting. The radiation machines are housed at the adult hospital next door, a mere 100 metres away. The problem was the snow was already piled shoulder-high that winter and a fresh 40cm had clogged the streets. Neither the transport van nor the ambulances would deliver her to treatment that day.
As her Radiation Oncologist I predicted she would lose 1% chance of cure for each day of delay in her radiotherapy – and I was desperate to give her the best chance. I imagined throwing her over my shoulder and walking through the snowdrifts – but her body was simply too frail to withstand the jostling. I thought of using my own car but it was at home and unlikely to make it back to the hospital. No one at the cancer centre had a vehicle I could borrow (or they were too wise to volunteer it). So I run outside into blowing snow.
An elderly man had just driven up to the front door of the cancer centre in a modern pick-up truck. His wife had just finished her radiotherapy and she stumbled up to the truck door, barely managing to get herself in. I knocked on the window and the man motioned for me to jump in the back seat. Between the requisite number of Canadian ‘Sorry’s I excitedly explained that I needed to get my 15-year-old patient from the hospital next door for a 15-minute treatment at the cancer centre and then back again. It took about a tenth of a second for the older couple to agree to this adventure.
The rest of the story is remarkably uneventful. I called the nurses who got Becca in a wheelchair and a jacket shaped like a sleeping bag. The truck plowed easily through the deep snow. Becca’s wheelchair fit perfectly into a space in the back of the truck. The therapists who could have gone home early waited patiently and were all smiles when our star patient arrived. And is typical of the Maritimes, the elderly couple knew a pediatric nurse who worked on the cancer ward – and we chatted and laughed on the way back to the children’s hospital. I am tremendously grateful to this wonderful couple for going out a limb – truly a random act of kindness.
Yes, I could have gotten in big trouble from my superiors for using civilian transportation of a sick patient. But I’m no longer worried because I can now say #BeccaToldMeTo
PS – Listen to Becca on CBC.ca/NoworNever interview at http://www.cbc.ca/radio/nowornever/becca-schofield-inspires-random-acts-of-kindness-with-her-own-hashtag-1.4030550?autoplay=true