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Traveling Tales of
Marty the Medi-Teddy

By Frank J. Lombardo

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Blazing a trail into the adult IV infusion community 


More than three years ago, as I just turned sixty years old, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Colon Cancer that traveled to my liver.  I was told that after a hemicolectomy I would need to start IV Chemotherapy treatments every two weeks for the next 28 weeks. When I disclosed this to my friends and family, they sensed in my voice the sadness and fear of having cancer and having to undergo IV infusion treatments.  But one special friend took the extra step and sent me a Medi-Teddy.  Although I was told it was meant for pediatric patients, I was advised to take it with me and that it will keep me company while sitting in a chair for up to eight hours during my infusion treatments. I immediately named my Medi-Teddy, “Marty” in honor of the thoughtful friend who introduced me to “The Bear”. 

On my first day of treatment at New York Cancer and Blood Center, I hung Marty on the IV tree and almost immediately the nurses and other patients noticed “Marty” and started asking me about it.  So, I told them the story of Ella, who developed the Medi-Teddy, and her battle as a seven-year-old who was diagnosed with a rare form of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (“ITP”).  ITP is an autoimmune disease that destroys platelets in the blood.  This creates a risk of bleeding, injury or severe bruising and clotting.  As a seven-year-old and for seven years, Ella underwent IV infusion treatments as an outpatient every 6-8 weeks.  

One can only imagine the fear and loneliness a seven-year-old would have sitting in a chair for hours during treatment. Ella never forgot how scary the early days of her infusions were.   So, I told my fellow IV infusion patients that at such a young age, Ella decided to help other children that had the same frightful experiences and she and her mom created a nonprofit organization to disguise intimidating IV bags with a comforting Medi-Teddy.  Ella and her mom developed “Hope” Medi-Teddy, made from BPA/latex free silicone and plastic and can be used over and over after a thorough cleaning and

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“Bailey” Medi-Teddy, made from low pile plush and belongs to the individual patient. It just so happens that Marty is a direct descendant from “Bailey”.  

As a man in my sixties and an Executive Board Member of a children’s foundation (New York Sportscene Children’s Foundation, I will admit that I had the same fears and the sensation of experiencing loneliness as Ella did.  However, Marty was there to keep me company and bring a smile on my face whenever I looked up at the IV tree and the hanging IV bags.

As I sat in my infusion chair I looked around and noticed there were no children, all the patients were adults.  Some about my age, some older, some younger, but no young children or young adults.  I noticed that my fellow patients had that look of despair, defeat, loneliness, fear and sadness as they sat in their chairs during their IV infusions.  I quickly learned that a Medi-Teddy is not just for pediatric patients.  Easily, it came to me that I can support Ella and bring some Hope and Faith to my fellow adult patients. I immediately realized that Marty was soon to be a trend setter in the adult IV infusion community. 

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At first, I donated to Ella’s nonprofit and purchased 10 Medi-Teddys.  I would give one to anybody, nurse or patient, that asked about Marty.  If someone looked like they needed a friend. I would hand them a Teddy and tell them about Ella, and how Marty came in to my life.  Ann, age 57 with breast cancer now brings her Medi-Teddy to her treatments, as does Linda, 67 with esophageal cancer and Tom 62 and Lynn both with Lung cancer.  I quickly learned that a Medi-Teddy is just not for pediatric patients but for adults as well.

Before I knew it, I made another donation and purchased twenty more Medi-Teddys.  After more than three years of my treatment, Marty continues to join me, keeping me company and I continue to support Ella and giving a Medi-Teddy to other “adult” patients and nurses.  It has come to the point that every time I walk into the infusion room, I see another Medi-Teddy, most of them named “Frank”.  In addition, some of the nurses will ask me for a Medi-Teddy because they know a patient that may need a friend or they brand it as their facility mascot. I have seen Medi-Teddys dressed up in scrubs, a unicorn for Halloween and Santa for Christmas.


I learned that handing someone a Medi-Teddy is a simple gesture that will not only bring a smile to a fellow patient but also restore one’s Hope and Faith.  As Marty continues in his travels at the New York Cancer and Blood Center I am hoping to see more Medi-Teddys here and at other children’s facilities. 

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Currently, the New York Sportscene Children’s Foundation is in the process of developing a fund-raising program for donations to purchase hundreds of Medi-Teddys to provide one to each child undergoing cancer or other life-threatening illnesses in numerous other facilities and hospitals.

Today and despite her illness, Ella still participates in every day activates, and in fact, is a coxswain for a rowing team and a cantor at her local church.  As Ella is now a young adult and continues to experience her own personal trials and tribulations, she hasn’t forgotten what the scary IV infusions were for her and continues to provide comfort to other Pediatric IV patients, Enteral Feeding Patients and mow adult IV patients. 

Thank you,

Frank and Marty

You can learn more about Ella and the Medi-Teddy, make a donation or purchase  one for a friend or a family member you believe needs a smile

If you can Touch A Heart, you can Change A Life!

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