Helix Donor Story: Gene Briskman

When Gene Briskman thinks back to the care he received at Brigham and Women’s Hospital while recovering from major surgery for stomach cancer, he’s filled with gratitude for his nurses.

“If the nurses weren’t as good as they are, I wouldn’t have had as successful a recovery,” he says.

Gene sought medical treatment at the Brigham in early 2021. The devastating discovery of cancer in his stomach led doctors to recommend a partial gastrectomy, an eight-hour surgery in which 80 percent of his stomach was removed. The procedure was followed by a one-week hospital stay at the Brigham, where Gene recovered from the surgery with the support and expertise of his nursing team.

“All of the nurses were just terrific,” recalls Gene, whose cancer is now in remission. “They really came across as not only caring about me as a patient, but also personally. They really wanted to make sure that, in addition to healing from the surgery, I was doing well in learning how to live with 20 percent of my stomach—which, for somebody like me who loves food, was a challenge.”

Grateful for his care, Gene wanted to honor his surgeon, Jiping Wang, MD, PhD, and the six nurses who cared for him. The Helix display provided the perfect way to do just that.

By making a gift to the Caregivers Fund—which supports our caregiver community—Gene and his family were able to have personal, heartfelt messages inscribed into the mirrors that make up our Helix display. This DNA-shaped installation is located in the heart of the Brigham’s main campus, and is a meaningful, highly visible way for donors to honor caregivers or loved ones while providing resources to support and celebrate Brigham staff through the Caregivers Fund. Gene’s proud mirror inscriptions read, “In appreciation for the excellent nursing care you provided me during my recent illness.”

“I think it’s a great way of honoring people, like the nurses, who are in the trenches and have devoted their lives to caring for others,” Gene says of the Helix display. He’s hopeful these messages will be a source of pride for his caregivers, and a reminder that the care they provide is truly life changing.

“The Brigham certainly made my life healthier and move vibrant,” he says.