Doctor, 10-year-old patient’s bond grows in the hospital garden

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut Children’s Medical Center has a new master gardener in their halls and she has inspired one patient to follow in her footsteps.

Marion Krah, 10, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in June. Even after months of chemotherapy, Krah can’t get used to the IV drip that follows her around.

“Really annoying. I don’t like it,” said Marion. “I miss being outside and at school.”

Marion loves everything about the outdoors especially the garden.

“My favorite thing to plant is tomatoes and cucumbers… wait no, carrots, but I do love cucumbers.”

It’s a passion she shares with her doctor. Hematologist and oncologist Dr. Eileen Gillan planted a salsa garden behind the hospital.

“It was beautiful. It’s a beautiful garden,” said Gillan.

When Dr. Gillan wasn’t working long hours at the hospital, she was toiling in the soil in the salsa gardening as part of her 60 hours of outreach for her Master Gardening Certificate. She spent 16, eight hour days earning her the certification. It takes most people 10 months and about 200 graduate every year in the state.

“I just wanted to learn a little bit more about the plants and how they’re used in oncology,” said Gillan.

She even taught Marion the chemotherapy she receives was created from the vinca plant. The doctor hopes her gardening knowledge can help more kids like Marion one day.

“I’m also very interested in integrative medicine and recently did a fellowship in that and this is sort of bringing it full circle,” said Gillan. “Not just chemotherapy but alternative medications too and complimentary medications.”

Marion helped water the garden and she found it to be comforting.

“It’s really cool because it’s like home,” said Marion. “My mom’s a master gardener. My grandmother is too.”

Gillan and Mario spent many hours together in the garden and inspired Marion to follow in her doctor’s footsteps outside the sterile world of the hospital.

“You get to learn about all kinds of different bugs and plants. It’s so cool,” said Marion.

Marion hopes to get her Master Gardening Certificate. There’s a junior program for kids.

This month, she’ll finish her last round of chemotherapy. Then, she starts radiation.

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