A Letter From Greg’s Family On His Birthday

Dear Friends and Family,

In honor of our beloved Greg, whose 35th birthday would have been this March 19th, we are focusing on what we believe is a deeply meaningful way to honor his memory, beautiful spirit and incredible life.  We are supporting two very important initiatives – the Greg Feldman Surgical Missions to Rwanda of Medical Missions for Children, and the Greg Feldman Residency Balance in Life Program at the Stanford School of Medicine Department of Surgery.  An overview of the two programs is below. 

In supporting these initiatives, we celebrate the exceptional human being that Greg was, we carry on his legacy of living a life of purpose and healing others, and we help to “heal the healer.”  We — Greg’s immediate family — have made our own financial commitment to both of these critically important programs and respectfully ask you to join us in supporting one or both of these efforts that, like Greg, will make a significant impact on the lives of so many. 

Greg Feldman Memorial Surgical Missions to Rwanda:  Medical Missions for Children (MMFC)

MMFC is the program with which Greg volunteered the April before he died.  While in Rwanda at that time, Greg and the MMFC team performed over 70 life-changing surgeries on Rwandan children and young adults.  Being able to help — and change the lives of — people in such great need while collaborating with an incredible team of fellow volunteers was one of the highlights of Greg’s life.  MMFC has named its annual missions to Rwanda in Greg’s honor.  Funds raised in his name will support the sustainability and, hopefully, expansion of MMFC’s tremendous program in Rwanda.

MMFC is a Massachusetts based non-profit organization that dispatches teams of doctors, dentists and nurses to the most remote and underprivileged communities in the developing world. MMFC provides free surgical, medical and dental care to children with congenital facial deformities–primarily clefts of the lip and palate, but also ear defects, head and neck tumors and burn injuries. MMFC volunteers do not get paid, use personal vacation time to travel on the missions, and carry all necessary supplies and equipment with them.  Since its inception over 21 years ago, MMFC has launched over 200 missions worldwide, operated on over 20,000 children and young adults, and provided nutrition counseling and speech therapy to several thousand children and their families. MMFC has also provided dental care and education to over 50,000 patients.

Greg Feldman Balance in Life Program:  Stanford School of Medicine Department of Surgery

In light of Greg’s tragic death just four months into his fellowship at Northwestern Memorial Hospital — after thriving in his surgery residency at Stanford and winning every award possible for a surgery resident there — the Stanford Surgery Department has developed and launched a wellness program that has been integrated into its resident training curriculum.  The groundbreaking program, named in Greg’s honor, is designed to promote wellness and balance, which Greg exemplified throughout his life, and to promote a more supportive environment for physician trainees.  A team from Stanford was invited by the ACGME to present the Balance in Life program to medical schools from around the country at its national conference (ACGME is the organization responsible for the accreditation of post-MD medical training programs within the United States). Balance in Life has been very well received by the Stanford residents and elicited a very positive response from the national medical community at ACGME.  We are hoping the initiative will be used as a model for training programs throughout the US.

Greg had one of the brightest personal futures and groundbreaking careers ahead of him.  We believe, however, that the professional experience he endured in the months before he died triggered a rapid, overpowering unraveling.  In an effort to raise awareness about suicide, we think the following facts are important to share:

  •  About 35,000 people commit suicide each year in the U.S.  This number reflects only those deaths reported, so it is likely that the actual number is much higher. More Americans die each year by suicide than by homicide or HIV/AIDS.
  • Of the 35,000, a disproportionately high number are physicians:  about 400 doctors per year kill themselves (again, probably an under-reported number).
  • Depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation are widely experienced by doctors at one time or another in their careers.  Major contributing factors include the:
    • failure of the medical field to foster a more supportive environment for those struggling with these issues
    • deeply ingrained stigma associated, in the profession, with seeking help
    • widely held belief by physicians and physician trainees that seeking help will hinder their career trajectories and ability to obtain and retain certification. 

 

To learn more and/or contribute, go to:

Medical Missions:  http://mmfc.org/Events/FeldmanFund/GregFeldmanMemFund.htm 

Stanford:  http://surgery.stanford.edu/indexBiL2.html

If you are more comfortable donating via phone or traditional mail, please see contact information below. 

Medical Missions for Children (MMFC)

Frank ODonnell, JD MPA
Executive Director
fodonnell@mmfc.org

Stanford School of Medicine, Department of Surgery

Stephanie Edelman

Director of Finance and Administration

Stanford Medical Center

300 Pasteur Drive, Room M-121

Stanford, CA 94305-2200

sedelman@stanford.edu

650.725.6493

We also welcome you to visit the beautiful memorial site Greg’s friends have created in his honor at:  http://gregfeldmanmemorial.org/.  Please feel free to send us additional stories, memories, photos or music related to share on the site by emailing us at gregfeldmanmemorial@gmail.com.

We are so grateful for everything each of you has done since the tragedy of Greg’s death and we greatly appreciate your willingness to consider joining us in supporting one or both of these important efforts. 

Sincerely,

The Feldman Family (Sid, Rhoda, Howard and Judith)

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