I was humbled to have dinner with a gentleman who recently lost his wife to cancer. They had been together for many decades and he wanted to do something special at Scott & White in her honor.
As with many tragedies, there is an interesting background story. His wife grew up in a small Southern town where the local company in which many of her 30 cousins worked was exposed to asbestos. Now there are only two or three cousins who have not been affected by pulmonary diseases.
This couple was very devoted to Scott & White and came here annually, driving four hours each way, to get their checkups. This last year was not a normal checkup. Something was wrong. Diagnostic tests were inconclusive. Ultimately a sample of fluid was taken from her chest cavity and a biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of mesothelioma. A very aggressive cancer, it was not operable. Now, this gentleman wanted to do something in her honor at Scott & White.
This couple knew Dr. W. Roy Smythe, Chairman, Department of Surgery. He was her surgeon and a nationally recognized leader in mesothelioma research. He is joined in cancer research in this field by Dr. Ed Childs and Dr. Karen Newell. As my dinner partner considered what to support at Scott & White, he listened to a presentation of the team’s approach to cancer research, which involves new drugs, understanding the nutritional requirements of cancer cells, and studying the role of vascular invasion and tumor growth. The gentleman was impressed with the breadth of approach to this devastating disease and has since chosen to create an endowment to support this research.
Another of our long-time donors has chosen a very different strategy to help support cancer research. An astute person of business, this individual has provided substantial monies at key times in the development of our Cancer Research Institute to allow great strides to be made. From donating the money for a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) laboratory to a specialized tissue culture lab, resources for clinical trials, and most recently, a substantial donation for children’s oncology treatment facility, this individual has profoundly enhanced our ability to take care of cancer patients.
People give money for many reasons. Personal experiences, drive or a passion to help, and a desire to make a difference–are just a few examples. In reality, every donor— no matter how large or small the size of your gift —makes a difference for our patients and families.