STANFORD, Calif. - A transformation is underway at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford as workers put the finishing touches on what will become the new main building when it opens later this fall.
But Thursday, the state-of-the-art facility hosted a special reunion involving a doctor who helped make cancer a distant memory for one of his former patients.
"Being back reminds me of the joys that I found even as a patient," says Lydia You, 32, who was one of the first patients admitted to the original Packard Children's in June 1991.
Under the care of Dr. Michael Link, the Palo Alto native underwent aggressive treatment for a rare and aggressive form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. You received high does of chemo over just a few months rather than the typical two years. It worked. By December 1991, she was in complete remission.
"When you see a patient grow up, and look perfect as Lydia does, and has children, and has all the things we hope for, for our own children, that's what makes this very special for me," said Dr. Link.
The hospital's expansion will add 149 patient beds, six surgical suites and three-and-a-half acres of green space for patients and their visitors.
"We're constantly not only trying to improve the therapy so that we cure more children, but we also want to do it with a minimum of side effects in the long term," said Dr. Link.
You and Dr. Link have kept in touch, off and on, for more than 25 years, but until Thursday hadn't seen each other in-person for quite some time. She calls him both a mentor and friend.
"He's such an intelligent man, both medically and professionally, but beyond that, I think what makes him so special is that he really has a heart for the patients," says You.