Philanthropy in Action

Donor Spotlight

Jumping for Joy

Mary Skehan

Diagnosis & Determination

Mary Skehan skydiving over 10,000 feet

A skilled nurse with decades of experience, Mary Skehan was no stranger to hospital settings. But when she found out she would need treatment for gynecological cancer, she experienced a sense of uncertainty like never before. “My first appointment was April 7,” she recalls. “I had not seen a doctor in almost 20 years and went into the appointment with the mindset that if I felt judged I was out of there."

At NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Mary was met with warmth and concern from Jason Wright, MD, and his team of thoughtful care providers. They were able to assuage her fears and reassure Mary that she was just as influential in her treatment as they were, emphasizing a holistic approach to care fortified by the patient’s participation in every step of the process.

“Dr. Wright and Patricia Finnigan met with me and were friendly, nonjudgmental,” she says. “Not only did they listen but they heard what I was saying … and made me feel I was not having something happen to me but rather I was a collaborator of my care.”

Jumping for Jason


Mary and Dr. Jason Wright

And when further procedures were needed, Mary was not dismayed. Empowered by support from NewYork-Presbyterian and “Live Like You Were Dying,” the Tim McGraw song she listened to every day after receiving her diagnosis, Mary underwent treatment with confidence.

Today, with help from Dr. Wright and his team, Mary is in remission. In June 2023, to commemorate her year of bravery and care, Mary decided to skydive 13,500 feet. She used the jump to support a gynecologic cancer fund overseen by Dr. Wright, raising $2,000, and she is considering another jump to raise more.

The reason I wanted to raise funds was to acknowledge the positive experience I’ve had with the team and to help spread the word and educate women and men about the different gynecologic cancers and the importance of screening and support, especially women who may not have the support I have,” Mary says.

Watch her incredible leap of faith here.

Success stories like Mary’s are possible only because of the power of philanthropy to support our research and clinical work. Visit our crowdfunding page to learn more about starting your own fundraiser.

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