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Three Decades of Dedication to Children

150 Stories Maria P

Maria Powers’ late son Bradley was hospitalized with a brain tumor at Children’s National Hospital in 1989. He was 3 years old. He underwent brain surgery and had a long recovery. Maria, who had other young children, couldn’t always be there at bedtime. Nurses and staff, including patient care technician Pauline Barnes, soothed him when she had to be at home. “Neurosurgeon Dr. John Myseros was so compassionate then and now, words cannot express the comfort he gave us,” Maria says.

When a nurse suggested she apply for a job at the hospital to be closer to Bradley, she did. Maria started working in the radiology department on his 4th birthday. He was in remission not long after.

Five years later, Bradley had a bike accident without a helmet on. He was in a coma, then had to learn to walk and talk all over again. “Bradley was always upbeat and concerned about others,” Maria says. “He’d say, ‘Don’t worry about me, Mom. Go to work, those kids need you,’ so that’s what I did.”

His accident inspired Maria to switch jobs within the hospital to work with Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization (founded by a Children’s National doctor). She worked at events and shared his story to spread awareness about bike safety. In 2020, she works in our physical therapy department.

Bradley passed away from nasal cancer when he was 21. Hospital doctors and staff rallied around Maria during a very difficult time. She says their commitment to caring for children — and her son’s insistence that those children need her — gives her life clarity and focus to this day.

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