Congratulations to Heather Lanfranchi, oncology social worker, who received the Medical Professional of the Year award for Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana for the northeast Ohio region.
According to Make-A-Wish, this award is given to a person who has shown dedication to their mission as well as passion for improving the lives of wish kids and families through their work in the medical field.
“Heather has been an advocate for Make-A-Wish in the local community, referring and assisting over 52 patients in the past 2 years and going above and beyond to help us grant their wishes,” said Christina Urycki, wish program associate.
She says her career path was inevitable because she grew up surrounded by people who worked in ‘helping’ professions.
“My mom was a case manager at the Summit Board of Developmental Disabilities and my dad worked at Fallsview Psychiatric Hospital,” she said. “They always (half-jokingly) warned me to stay away from the profession, recognizing how difficult it can be. But, I am doing what I was meant to do.”
Heather currently works in our Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders with children diagnosed with cancer, brain tumors and kids undergoing stem cell transplants. Even with all the sadness and challenge she sees in her work, Heather says she also gets to witness happiness and joy.
“I have many favorite parts of my job – I love the celebrations whether it is an end of therapy parade or good news following surveillance scans,” she said. “I also feel it’s a privilege to be with patients and families when treatment is not an option or is no longer working. I work with the team to help ensure a ‘good death’ and support the needs of the caregivers as end of life nears.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by such a well-respected and beloved organization,” she added. “Make-A-Wish and other wish organizations like it give patients and their families hope during one of the most difficult times in their lives. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel and I’ve witnessed children who are incredibly sick have their spirits lifted simply by talking about their wish. That’s the magic of a wish.”