Please browse a collection of past stories from our wonderful supporters of the CAMC Foundation.
Cancer has had a devastating effect on my life. I have witnessed its debilitating effects from the perspective of a child when my mother died of cancer, and more recently as an adult upon the death of my wife Tucky. Both cases have guided me in my belief in community giving and have given me the dedication and perseverance needed to make an impact where I live.
For years, this region lacked the right kind of space for the proper treatment of cancer patients and their families. By partnering with the CAMC Foundation, I was able to help bring a new, comprehensive, stand-alone cancer center to our region. I truly became ‘The Power of Many’.
I wasn’t the first in my family to partner with my fellow citizens to push for better healthcare for our state. In 1943 a woman left Charleston to seek medical treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Upon her return she became convinced that Charleston needed a modern hospital, built and supported by citizens of the community, to address the need for state-of-the-art medical care close to home. She began collecting information on Charleston’s needs and discussing how to meet them. In 1944 a meeting was held to determine how to meet the medical needs of all Charlestonians. That meeting spurred an eight-member temporary hospital committee that eventually led to the opening of Charleston Memorial Hospital. That meeting took place in the home and under the direction of my mother, Ms. Helen Townsend Ziebold.
Following the lead of the woman who gave me life and led by her convictions and moving forward to honor the woman that made me that man I am today, I joined with many to help do my part for the future of cancer care in West Virginia. The convenience of locating the majority of CAMC’s cancer services under one roof has proven beneficial to everyone receiving outpatient care. The new facility has created an environment during cancer treatment focused on the whole person. It has welcomed patients into a cancer center that is conducive to healing and full of open, airy spaces. It has also allowed our medical team to work more efficiently, cut patient wait times in half and provide the opportunity for a more multi-disciplinary approach to cancer care.
As you can see, there is opportunity to provide leadership and foresight to our community by joining the CAMC Foundation team. You too can help add another fine example of community supported medical care to the region. I encourage you to remember the importance of committing our time and resources to a cause bigger than ourselves!
As I sit here reflecting on the past three years, I realize that I have gone through somewhat of a metamorphosis since my final chemotherapy treatment. I could lie and tell you treatment was the hard part, and don’t get me wrong, it certainly lived up to its brutal reputation. However, for me, and many other women that I’ve had the privilege of meeting because of breast cancer, the hard part began once treatment ended.
I grieved the loss of who I once was, the carefree, wild child that thought she was invincible. I will never be that girl again. Parts of me are sad and reluctant to accept this realization.
As life rolled on, just as it always does, I struggled trying to find balance in my life as I recuperated physically. Many of the short and long term side effects of breast cancer treatment drugs can become permanent problems and are not always outwardly seen. Just a few of the side effects are extreme fatigue as your body heals, lymphedema, painful scar tissue, body aches and pains from nerve damage, osteoporosis with bone and joint pain, cataracts, early menopause and hormone changes, focus and cognitive deficits and finally the constant fear of heart, lung and liver damage as well as secondary cancers.
This led me to a stage I call “the emotional train wreck”. Every ache and every pain, I convinced myself was cancer. I planned my funeral extensively (in my head). I made arrangements for how my kids would be cared for when I die (in my head). I would apologize to my husband and wonder why he stayed when so many spouses couldn’t handle being a caregiver, let alone deal with a wife struggling to pull it together. After all, this was not what he signed up for. He assured me that this is exactly what he signed up for when he married me, and he proceeded to love me through this phase and for that I am forever grateful.
Soon I began to feel hopeful. I found joy in the small things again. I made a short list of things that were important to me and I burned the list of things that weighed me down. I called this stage “cutting the fat” out of my life. I still have moments where fear overwhelms, but I now know how to listen to and acknowledge this fear and dispose of it when worry is not warranted.
All of this, the good, the bad and the ugly, brought me to a point in my life where I began to know this new and hopefully, final version of myself…..less some tweaking. Held hostage by obstacles, both physical and mental, it took me time to embrace the survivor role. Though looking back, the will to survive was there the whole time.
My mission now is for women to know and accept that the emotional onslaught that can follow a cancer battle is very real, but I also want them to know that there is hope and help available.
The Amy Summers Smith Breast Cancer Endowment Fund, at the CAMC Foundation, is thriving and ready to help women through the past-treatment phase of their breast cancer journey. This “forever fund” is helping to fund community awareness around the importance of support following cancer treatment. No woman should be in a position where she has to forgo psychological help because she cannot afford it or doesn’t have insurance. This fund is here to help provide those resources to women at the CAMC Cancer Center.
By: Amy Smith, triple negative breast cancer survivor
When my dear friend Marina Hendricks started Run for Your Life in 2004 in memory of her fiancé – and my longtime friend and co-worker, at the Charleston Daily Mail, Jody Jividen – I had no idea the event would become even more personal to me.
CAMC Foundation Run for Your Life, scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday, June 16, this year, increases awareness of colorectal cancer and raises money to help pay for screenings. Jody died of colon cancer, and at some point, I will, too.
I had survived Hodgkin’s disease in 1991, so I was something of the Charleston Daily Mail “chemo expert” when Jody was first diagnosed. I went with him to his first treatment and recognized the setting all too well.
I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2014, 12 years after Jody died, and started a similar chemotherapy regimen. When the new CAMC Cancer Center opened and I moved my treatment there, I realized I was likely one of the few people who had received chemotherapy in each of the three locations CAMC had used over the past three decades. In fact, Karen Cross, one of the incredibly talented and caring nurses in the infusion center, administered treatments to me in all three locations.
I mentioned this to a friend at CAMC and told him if there was anything I could do to help support the cancer center or raise awareness about screenings, I’d be happy to do that. I soon became the honorary chairman of Run for Your Life, telling my story in local media and encouraging people to help fund screenings through the CAMC Foundation for those who cannot afford them.
I received outstanding treatment at CAMC from Dr. Jubelirer and Dr. Zhang for nearly three years before we exhausted all conventional options. They encouraged my wife, Kelly, and me to consider a clinical trial, and we found one through Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Dr. Varghese, who had monitored my treatment since my initial diagnosis, praised the treatment CAMC provided and noted that I had been able to receive the same level of care in Charleston that is offered at major research centers across the country.
In an interview with the Charleston Daily Mail the year I was chairman of Run for Your Life, I brazenly stated that this disease wasn’t going to run me, I was going to run this disease. And for the most part that has been true.
I kept my job, as communications director and later chief of staff, in Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office thanks to the support I received from him and many, many wonderful co-workers. Kelly and I have checked off several “bucket list” items, including a trip to the British Open and six weeks at Spring Training in Florida. We continue to cherish our time together more than ever.
When the time comes, it’s my goal to also die on my own terms. I want to maintain control of what I can, even as the number of those things shrinks.
I also hope that by spreading the word about screenings and early detection of colorectal cancer – a situation that makes it easily treatable – I can keep others from going down a path similar to mine and to Jody’s. I’m glad the CAMC Foundation will continue that mission well into the future.
By: Chris Stadelman
2015 Honorary Chairman
CAMC Foundation Run for Your Life
The 2018 CAMC Foundation Golf Classic was held on August 20 at Berry Hills Country Club and Edgewood Country Club. Each year, this event raises much needed funds for CAMC Women and Children’s Hospital, specifically the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to help little babies with big medical problems. This was the 26th annual Golf Classic.
This year’s honorary Golf Classic co-chairs were Dr. Dan Foster and son Brad Foster. As co-chairs, Dan and Brad were tasked with leading a dedicated committee of their peers to secure sponsorships, raffle prizes, assist with stewardship of sponsors, golf logistics and much more. Here is what Dan and Brad had to say about their experience.
“For Brad and me, it was pure joy to have the privilege of serving as co-chairs of the 2018 CAMC Foundation Golf Classic. With the collaboration of the Foundation staff, the Golf Classic Advisory Committee and the generosity of sponsors and raffle donors, the tournament was able to raise more than $165,000 for CAMC Women and Children’s Hospital, while providing an exciting and enjoyable competition on an absolutely beautiful day!”
The Stop the Bleed campaign is a nationwide campaign endorsed and sponsored by the American College of Surgeons. The campaign initiative is a response to the school shootings across America beginning just after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. The purpose is to educate, train and put the supplies in the hands of our school teachers, principals and school staff to recognize and respond to a student or co-worker that is experiencing uncontrolled hemorrhage as a result of a natural or man-made incident. In 2017 the CAMC Foundation awarded CAMC Trauma Services with a grant of $30,000.00 to purchase Stop the Bleed Stations to be placed in every public middle and high school in Kanawha, Putnam, Lincoln and Clay County.
We kicked our campaign off at Kid Strong in June of 2017 and since then we have placed the stations in 8 Lincoln County Schools, 2 Clay County Schools, 4 Kanawha County Schools, trained over 200 school nurses and more than 250 school teachers. We have scheduled dates to provide training to the remainder of the schools in Kanawha and Putnam County. By the beginning of the 2018 school year we plan to have all the kits distributed and training delivered. This program has encompassed our training calendar as we are now getting request from banks, churches and businesses. Our team of physicians, nurses, paramedics and EMT’s have worked diligently to expand this educational opportunity to our community. We won’t let up until we have offered education and placed Stop the Bleed Stations in EVERY school in WV. As it is said in the Stop the Bleed program, “The only thing more tragic than a death is a death that could have been prevented.” With this training, YOU can save a life.
If you or someone you know wishes to participate in this program or receive training, contact CAMC Trauma Services at 304-388-1859 to schedule your event.
2019 CAMC Foundation Gala Chair Couple
Shawna and I agreed to chair the CAMC Foundation Gala as a way to give back to our community and the CAMC family of hospitals that has helped us through the years. Everyone in our family has used resources provided by CAMC Women & Children’s. I was born at the hospital which is now CAMC Women and Children’s. As a young adult, I was treated for cancer at CAMC Women and Children’s Hospital. When it came time to have children of our own, Shawna and I attended childbirth classes offered at the hospital. Our kids were both born at CAMC Women & Children’s and continue to visit their pediatrician there. CAMC Women & Children’s has helped us to live a vibrant and healthy life. By chairing this important event, we want to help ensure the services provided at CAMC Women and Children’s continue to be available to everyone who needs them well into the future. There’s nothing better than giving back to a great cause that has helped you in the past!
The women of the Cross Lanes Women’s Club have been active with the CAMC Foundation Community Giving program for 3 years. Each summer the members of the club hold a walk to honor club member Mary Fletcher, a breast cancer survivor. All of the money raised at the walk goes back to the CAMC Cancer Center to support services that the Cross Lanes Women’s Club is passionate about. This year they dedicated their donation towards the survivorship program.
Mary Fletcher had this to say, “The summer of 2016 was both a blessing and a curse for me, with the birth of my two grandchildren and the terror or being diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. As I progressed through the chemo treatments for the next 7 months, the CAMC Cancer Center staff provided excellent care for me. I finished the treatment plan on January 21, 2017 after a bilateral mastectomy and a hysterectomy. I was a survivor! But now what? I started attending a weekly support group with Dr. Hancock, Lore Wilcox and fellow cancer survivors. These weekly meetings basically provided the glue for me to put my life back together. Each week I faithfully returned to the CAMC Cancer Center, I was met with welcoming smiles at the front door. I could get a manicure and a new hat or scarf to cover my bald head. I continue to attend monthly meetings now because it is important for the women who are at different stages of survival to support each other. Yes your hair does grow back and yes you do regain your energy eventually but you do still have anxiety about follow up visits. The survivor support programs offered by the CAMC Cancer Center are perhaps as valuable as the medical treatment. The latest program that provides a clinic to see active treatment patients who are ill is just awesome!”