Teenager Raises Funds for Breast Cancer Research

North Andover’s Benjamin Metsch put on a basketball tournament at a local community center to fund breast cancer research at Mass General.

Benjamin Metsch, 13, of North Andover, held a fundraiser for breast cancer research at Massachusetts General Hospital because he is happy to have his mom back.

When his mother, Renee Metsch, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, Benjamin was 11. The diagnosis was a lot to take. During her treatment, Renee wasn’t her usual self. She had to dial back her daily routine to save energy so that she wouldn’t miss family activities with Benjamin and his dad, David.

“I wanted to raise money for breast cancer because of what my mom went through.”

But as months passed, Benjamin heard his mother compliment the “exceptional care” she received from Mass General Cancer Center clinicians. He watched her bravely face surgeries and chemotherapy, and over time, she grew stronger.

By the end of her successful treatment, Renee felt more like herself. She’d crank up the volume to her 80s music while making dinner and she and Benjamin would “kitchen-dance,” as they fondly call it.

Targeting Breast Cancer

For Benjamin, his mom’s cancer treatment is largely a distant memory. He is busy with middle school, religious school and several activities. He plays alto saxophone, basketball, soccer, does track and field and has his black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

When the time came to choose a bar mitzvah community project, Benjamin remembered when his family counted on Mass General. “I wanted to raise money for breast cancer because of what my mom went through,” Benjamin says. “I didn’t want that to happen to anyone else.”

Benjamin decided to hold a basketball tournament for middle school kids in his area. Renee helped him approach the Joseph N. Hermann Youth Center in North Andover. Its staff donated basketball courts and volunteers to coach, referee and run the event’s check-in. They also helped Benjamin advertise by hanging up posters.

Organizing an event like this meant that Benjamin became a member of Mass General’s BeCause community — individuals who raise funds to support the hospital by organizing and participating in events, social gatherings and online campaigns. Benjamin used resources from BeCause to set up an online event page to promote his basketball tournament.

“It was exciting to see the kids being so enthusiastic. It was way more than we imagined it to be — more fun, more exciting, more profitable, more everything.”

Benjamin’s classmates joined the effort and formed teams of three to four. Each player paid a fee, which raised the bulk of funds. They sold snacks and held a 50/50 drawing.

Tournament Day

On tournament day, Jan. 13, 2019, Benjamin’s closest friends were there. Word had spread, and other classmates came, too. “We had a lot of people, cheering the players on,” he says.

At the tournament, Renee wore her pink fleece and pink ribbon, as a sign of support for breast cancer. “It was exciting to see the kids being so enthusiastic. It was way more than we imagined it to be — more fun, more exciting, more profitable, more everything.”

Benjamin’s goal was to raise $200 for breast cancer research at Mass General. He far exceeded it, with $1,700. His family is considering whether to hold the tournament again next year. Renee’s breast cancer diagnosis was her second. As a younger woman, she had a different kind of breast cancer and also went through treatment at Mass General.

“I had all my same doctors,” Renee says. “I wasn’t happy to go through it again, but knowing I was being treated at Mass General, I felt safe and secure in my care.”

To learn more about how you can support the Mass General Cancer Center, please contact us.

For additional information about how you can hold a fundraiser for Mass General, please visit our BeCause website.