Fill-Anthropy-Abbott Northwestern Hospital/Medicine Ball 2014

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Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Abbott Northwestern Hospital Medicine Ball.  I had a BALL too!!!  It was a very successful gala with well over 700 guests and the highest earning Ball on record with $850,000 secured for Abbott Northwestern’s Neuro ICU.

IMG_7867En Route to the Gala-Wearing my nearly 15-year old Badgley Mischka Gown


Ball Theme was “Beautiful Minds”- A gala at the Hyatt Regency, Minneapolis


The Talent was a “Mentalist”.  This is my sister in law on stage with him while he bent a glass wine glass with his mind.  He was utterly amazing.  I should do an entire post on that experience alone some day.  I  still cannot wrap my brain around his incredible “powers”, talent, other worldly skill?  MIND BLOWING!


A few of our table guests!!! Friends and Family (among many) who we were blessed to know and who supported us along our arduous cancer journey.

I want to give my attendance at the Ball a proper introduction as follows:

My association with the hospital started on February 7th, 2002.  My daughter, Marit,  was born there.  My other three children were birthed at Fairview Hospital, Minneapolis (coincidentally the same hospital I was born at).  The nurse midwives (whose care I was under) switched their associated hospital before Marit was born so that is how Abbott (that’s the shortened familiar name version) became her birth place.   My curiosity surfaced  about Marit’s birth time during my term on this year’s Medicine Ball committee and after recently Finding the birth medical records of my other three children.  I requested her birth records from the hospital and was astounded to Find out,  she was born at exactly 3:33am.  Ironically, 3 is my Favorite number, so the triple 3 (3:33am) seems amazingly uncanny. I often Feel certain there are no accidents in this grand life!

Six years later (May 29th, 2008) she ended up in Minneapolis Children’s Hospital within an hour after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.  We met Dr. Nagib who subsequently removed her brain tumor at Abbott Northwestern Hospital on June 1st, 2008.  Because the hospital has an intra-operative MRI that enhances a surgeon’s ability to completely resect operable tumors, these surgeries are done at Abbott not Minneapolis Children’s Hospital.  The two hospitals are connected via an underground tunnel.

Another six years later, my husband and I were honored to be asked by Dr. Nagib  and his beautiful (both inside and outwardly) wife, Nancy to participate on The Medicine Ball committee chaired by them.   Dr. Nagib was also honored at this event.  We wanted to use part of Marit’s story to not only convey our gratitude in some small way but tell others what he did for Marit and for our family at large.

I would like to preface your viewing of this Film by saying that I realize I said it was a parent’s worst nightmare (finding out my child had a brain tumor and one that was malignant as well).   Truly for ME, it was/has been the worst thing that I have ever experienced.  That said, I am also aware that other parents I know and know of,  have had even worse things to cope with.  My saying what I did in this short Film is not meant to imply that there aren’t worse things to have to deal with. I found a quote from Vicktor Frankl’s book:  “Man’s Search for Meaning” that I think is relative to what I mean to convey:

(Side note- I have found this book tremendously inspirational while going through cancer treatment and beyond.)

“To draw an analogy: a man’s suffering is similar to the behavior of a gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly , no matter how big the chamber.  Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the “size” of human suffering is absolutely relative.”

Here is part of Marit’s story as it relates to her cancer journey, her EXCELLENT Doctor and the incredible services of Abbott Northwestern Hospital:

Now I wish to take this opportunity to publicly thank and write effusively about Dr. Nagib.  I believe he is a remarkable human being with extraordinary talent and compassion too.  I find a combination of brilliance, compassion and in his case,  humility too,  a rarity among surgeons.  I don’t mean to be offensive but I have met several physicians who haven’t possessed all those positive attributes in combination.  My husband and I never doubted his abilities, his care plan or that he wouldn’t do everything in his human power to try to “save” our child from the second we met him. I believe we received a gift from above the night we arrived in the ICU because as “luck” or Fate or whatever had it, Dr. Nagib was on call that evening.  As a result, he became our primary neuro surgeon thereafter.

IMG_7883Dr. Nagib speaking at the Medicine Ball. I think he absolutely has a BEAUTIFUL MIND and SOUL!!!

I will ask each of  you reading this what I ask myself Frequently: How does one adequately thank someone who removed a cancerous tumor from their child’s brain?  When I now occasionally pause to contemplate it all, I am awestruck.  I will always remember walking alongside the guerney while she was wheeled through the tunnel between Minneapolis Children’s Hospital and Abbott Northwestern en route to the OR suite at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.  If you might be so willing, simply pause for 60 seconds/one measly moment and imagine what might go through your mind as you would be relinquishing your child’s life (and the care of one of the most delicate organs in her precious body) to another human being.  Daunting and terrifying isn’t it?  It requires the utmost ability to “Let go and Let God” with only FAITH and hope to sustain you during the hours where your control has completely vanished.  Similar experiences happened many times throughout the cancer journey with subsequent treatments, surgeries etc. but this First brain tumor resection was very significant.  I can only linger on the thought of her brain literally being opened and “worked on” for so long before I Find myself (even now) mentally distracting myself because, in truth, it’s just TOO painful to think about. BUT…REGARD!  After seeing the short Film, you can see for yourself what miraculous work Dr. Nagib performed.  I truly believe he is an angel on earth, divinely created and inspired.  We have nothing but thanks and praise for him- professionally and personally.  The Film didn’t  acknowledge that we had other subsequent surgeries and encounters with Dr. Nagib.  One subsequent surgery Marit had was a shunt revision that typically requires only 24 hours of hospitalization.  Things went awry, there were many complications and that memorable, horrible hospitalization lasted nearly three weeks.  In addition, Dr. Nagib assisted a plastic surgeon who performed several wound surgeries as well.

Finally,  I want to re-emphasize the nightmare comment that represented so much to me.  I very much appreciated (despite being out of my mind and in a complete state of shock at that point along the journey) that Dr. Nagib looked me in the eye and acknowledged my pain.  I appreciated a soul who was willing to acknowledge and not ignore my human suffering and anguish.

In closing, Maya Angelou is quoted as saying:

“I’ve learned that people will Forget what you said, people will Forget what you did, but people will never Forget how you made them Feel.”

Dr. Nagib made me/us Feel like our child was in the hands of the best, most competent neuro surgeon in the world, that he would do whatever was humanly possible to try to save our child and that he cared about us and her!  He is truly a beautiful mind.  I thank God for the light he cast on us in some of my darkest hours and for his healing hands and enormous heart!!!

Have any of you been blessed to have extraordinary doctors, pastors, caregivers who have been there during your darkest hours and impacted your life in profound ways? Please share!





  1. Susanne Venberg says

    I am completely grateful for Arie’s Neurosugeon, Dr Patronio and plastic surgeon Dr Wood who took out her brain tumor on April 23rd, 2014. Forever grateful and have the same feelings and experience you did. How do you begin to thank them for the grace and humbleness. Both doctors made us feel like nothing else mattered other than our sweet Arie girl. Arie will be on tumor watch for the next 7 years, it was diagnosed as a benign tumor thankfully, however they have never seen anything like it. We will see an oncologist/blood and cancer doctor on Dec 3rd after her next MRI, Nov 11th to watch her brain and fluids. Her identical twin sister will be having an MRI on Nov 15th to have a baseline of her brain since they are not sure what it was. Thanks for sharing your experience and fund raising for this cause.

  2. Linda Hopkins says

    I am always amazed and awestruck when I am stopped in my tracks and sent back to that time in your lives and what unbelievable pain and distress you all suffered with such strength and courage. God surly had a hand in giving Marit the family and medical community she needed to endure, survive and thrive. I agree she is an “old soul” and will make the most of her experiences and will do amazing things in her life. Blessings to Marit and all of her “army.”

  3. Sandy Jensen says

    Berit, I can not write as well as you, but here goes. Right now, my stomach is in knots and the tears are flowing. You have written a beautiful story of your brave little girl and her wonderful parents. I pray your journey will always find you well. All my love to Marit, Michael, you Berit and your precious Family. Love, Sandy

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