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The Michael Hudson Patient and Family Support Fund:  Keeping Families Together

Holidays, especially Christmas, are a time when families gather together to celebrate.  It is at times like this that we realize how important it is for us to be able to be with our loved ones.  It was in this spirit that the Michael Hudson Patient and Family Fund was established, to bring families together.  The story of Michael Hudson is about family togetherness.

Michael Hudson was a graduate student in Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine.  When he was close to finishing his studies, he was diagnosed with Leukemia.  Michael came to the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and received a bone marrow transplant donated by his brother, Todd.  While he was receiving his care here, his family and his fiancée, Rebecca, were able to stay close by and see him every day.  Having his family close by gave Michael a sense of well-being and emotional comfort that was instrumental for his happiness and recovery.  According to his step-mother, Kathy Davidson, “we realized how important it was for Michael’s happiness to have us be close by.  To fight cancer, you not only need the doctors, but a whole support group”.

During Michael’s stay, his sister Meg Davidson met a young woman who was also receiving cancer treatment down the hallway.  Meg and the rest of Michael’s family befriended the young woman and spoke to her on many occasions.  Through the course of their conversations, they found out that she was going through this ordeal all alone because her family did not have the financial means to come and visit.  Her family could not afford the transportation costs.  Michael heard about her situation and felt very badly about his fellow patient and wished that he could do something to help her.  He felt so lucky.  After all, his loved ones had the means to come visit him.  They were able to stay close by and he saw them every day.  How could anyone go through the experience of fighting cancer…alone?  Soon after, the young woman passed away while Michael went into remission.  Michael never had a chance to meet the young woman down the hallway.

A little less than a year later, Michael relapsed and was admitted back to the hospital.  He could not forget about the young woman who died without her family around her.  Kathy said, “he made us promise that no matter what the outcome of his treatment that we would set up a fund…to enable families to be together during their cancer treatment.”  Michael passed away in 1998.  His graduate advisor finished his dissertation and Michael received his Ph.D. posthumously.

After his death, Michael’s family set up the Michael Hudson Patient and Family Support Fund.  The purpose of the fund is to help bring families together.  Donna Baker, the administrator of the fund, says “the fund has been wonderful.  Sometimes we pay for a taxi for a patient’s loved one to visit.  Sometimes a family may get evicted because the breadwinner is receiving chemotherapy and is too sick to work.  In such cases, we help them with the rent.  This fund has touched countless lives and has made such a difference in helping to keep families together.”

Every year, the Michael Hudson Patient and Family Support Fund also gives a “Caregiver of the Year” award to a member of the Cancer Center staff for exceptional care.  Michael’s family set up the fund with the goal of keeping families together.  It fills a void from the loss of Michael and has been very rewarding for the family.  It was his dying wish; he was so touched by the plight of someone he never even met, and with this fund he left such a wonderful legacy.

If you would like to donate to the Michael Hudson Patient and Family Support Fund, please click here

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