Police Badges of Compassion

By Joel Kost, Lowell Sun, photos by Bob Whitaker

TEWKSBURY — Dozens of police cruisers and motorcycles from 25 area towns lined Main Street, lights flashing, as they slowly pulled into the Tewksbury police station Friday afternoon. The spectacle wasn’t a sign of major criminal activity in town. Rather, the parade of police vehicles was to honor Tewksbury resident Stephanie Patenaude with a $5,000 check from Cops for Kids with Cancer, a nonprofit organization dedicated to help families dealing with cancer.

As the law enforcers and about two dozen friends and family members crammed into a small meeting room inside the station, all eyes were on Patenaude, who, despite her frail figure, wore the biggest smile in the room.

Robert P. Faherty, of Cops for Kids with Cancer, presents gifts to cancer patient Stephanie Patenaude of Tewksbury on Friday, as her mother, Gail Daukantas looks on. For video on this story, visit lowellsun.com.

Robert P. Faherty, of Cops for Kids with Cancer, presents gifts to cancer patient Stephanie Patenaude of Tewksbury on Friday, as her mother, Gail Daukantas looks on. For video on this story, visit lowellsun.com.

After all, this was her day.

“We feel very honored to have the opportunity to honor Stephanie here today,” said Tewksbury Police Chief Timothy Sheehan.

Sheehan was contacted by Robert Faherty, chairman of the organization and retired superintendent of the Boston Police Department, last Friday, requesting that the Tewksbury Police Department help the organization present Patenaude with the check.

Sheehan worked with local law enforcement for the past week to have at least one cruiser from each local station escort Patenaude and her family to and from the event. In total, 23 cruisers, five motorcycle units, and eight to 10 motor units from the North East Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council came to honor Patenaude.

“Every one of them bent over backwards. There was an outpouring of support,” Sheehan said. “She’s going to be well taken care of.”

Cops for Kids With Cancer, originally a golf rivalry between retired Boston Police Capt. John Dow’s police team and Ireland’s Garda Siochana, led by Detective Pat Hanlon, has worked with more than 200 families, donating $5,000 to each of them.

Between the number of law enforcers and Patenaude’s friends and family, Faherty said this is the best reception the organization has ever seen.

“Everyone knows her now,” he said.

Stephanie Patenaude, seated, received a $5,000 check from the Cops For Kids with Cancer as well as the royal treatment at the Tewksbury Police Station Friday. With Patenaude are, from left, Al and Gail Daukantas, with daughter Sarah,Patenaude, who is also GailÕs daughter, Tewksbury Police Chief Timothy Sheehan and Robert Faherty, chairman of the organization. Behind them at right are Mike and Robin Patenaude. Mike is StephanieÕs father.	Sun/Bob Whitaker

Stephanie Patenaude, seated, received a $5,000 check from the Cops For Kids with Cancer as well as the royal treatment at the Tewksbury Police Station Friday. With Patenaude are, from left, Al and Gail Daukantas, with daughter Sarah,Patenaude, who is also GailÕs daughter, Tewksbury Police Chief Timothy Sheehan and Robert Faherty, chairman of the organization. Behind them at right are Mike and Robin Patenaude. Mike is StephanieÕs father. Sun/Bob Whitaker

Patenaude, 21, suffers from ganglioglioma, a rare type of brain cancer. While studying film-making at Full Sail University a year and a half ago she had a seizure and a scan revealed a tumor in her brain. After one surgery the family was told that the cancer was benign, but it aggressively came back six months later.

“It’s been horrible,” her mother, Gail Daukantas, said. “It’s so hard to describe.”

Additional scans revealed she had three more tumors. Patenaude went through a second surgery about a year ago and several treatments, including chemotherapy and stem-cell transplants.

Since her last scan about two weeks ago, Patenaude appears to be cancer free.

“She’s doing it,” Daukantas said. “She’s fighting.”