Unsung Heroes Class of 2015
Pauline Cohen Founder’s Award
In honor of our founder, recognizing outstanding contributions to
Cancer Family Care and our mission
Presented to WKRC/Local 12. Accepting the award on the station’s behalf is President and General Manager of Local 12 and Group Manager of the Sinclair Broadcast Group for Cincinnati and Dayton, Jon Lawhead.
Community Impact Award
Recognizing outstanding contributions to the
lives of people who are touched by cancer
Presented to the Linda Marie Degenhart Family. Pictured are Lindsay Wiseman, Linda Marie Degenhart and Mike Degenhart.
Joslin Haggart Yeiser Awards
Sarah Barwell, BSN, MBA
Ed Crane, MD
Doug Flora, MD
Lynnetta Hart, BS, M.Ed, CCRC
Ching Ho, MD, PhD
Jennifer Mangino, MD
Maureen O’Brien, MD
David Pratt, MD
Joann Scherpenberg, RN
Kristin & Matt Meyer
Western & Southern Claims Department
Susan Brewer Ashcraft*
John Kennedy, MD, MHA
Sarah Barwell, BSN, MBA was nominated by Mark Witte. While Sarah is officially being recognized in the Oncology Professional category, she also qualifies as a caregiver. As an oncology professional Sarah serves as the Assistant Nurse Manager of the TriHealth Cancer Institute. Sarah is a true advocate for the patient and a leader in improving the quality of patient-centered care. All of her nursing and oncology experiences became even more deeply personal for her as she helped care for her own father who died of Lymphoma in 2013.
Edward Crane, MD was nominated by Priyanka Ranatunga and Jim Schwartz. When Priyanka was first diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, she turned to Dr. Crane. At her first visit with him, he put her mind at ease. He truly cares about her and her family and is open-minded and compassionate. Jim Schwartz is a social worker with Cancer Family Care. He nominated Dr. Crane because, in addition to providing excellent medical care, he is always aware of their psychosocial and spiritual needs and often refers his patients to Cancer Family Care.
Doug Flora, MD was nominated by Judy Hill. According to Judy, “Dr. Flora, in addition to being a truly wonderful person, he is an amazing physician who truly cares for his patients.” He has a way of making his patients feel at ease, even in the worst of circumstances. He goes above and beyond to help Judy make decisions along the way in her treatment path. Although Judy’s road ahead is uncertain and scary, she knows that having a gifted, talented physician like Dr. Flora in her corner, gives her comfort and strength.
Lynnetta Hart, BS, M.Ed, CCRC was nominated by David Waterhouse, MD. Lynnetta is the Research Director at OHC and a tireless advocate for cancer research and quality care in the Tri-State. To quote Dr. Waterhouse, “Cancer patients need cheerleaders – Cheerleaders who fight alongside them and for them when they cannot or are no longer able to do so on their own. Lynnetta is one such cheerleader!” Lynnetta’s efforts in leading research locally will have a lasting impact on cancer patients whom she will most likely never meet and who will never even know her name.
Ching Ho, MD Ph.D. was nominated by Mark Witte. Dr. Ho is the medical director of the TriHealth Breast Health Program. Dr. Ho’s commitment to her patients is demonstrated in her continual commitment to improving the patient experience. She has helped institute a high-risk breast program, a cancer wellness program for patients in active treatment, developed an Intraoperative Radiation Therapy Program, and a robust research program in breast cancer. Dr. Ho’s focus on improving the experience of women with breast cancer has been an inspiration to her staff and to the patients and families she has served.
Jennifer Mangino, MD was nominated by Lisa Hess, CNP. Dr. Mangino is a pediatric oncologist at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute. She could also be recognized in the Patient Unsung Hero category. Last year, while maintaining a very busy caseload of patients, caring for them all in addition to providing support for their families, she was battling her own war with cancer. This has given her an even greater understanding of what her patients are dealing with. According to Lisa, Dr. Mangino has talents as a professional, a wife, a mother, a friend, and is just overall a terrific person.
Maureen O’Brien, MD was nominated by Anna Herbert. According to Ann, if a bedside nurse is concerned about his/her patient then Cincinnati Children’s Hospital attending Oncologist, Maureen O’Brien, is also concerned. The confidence Dr. O’Brien has in the unit nurses is one of the many reasons she is an Unsung Hero. Unsung heroes do two things: they provide dedicated, selfless care to their patients and they teach, trust, and value the team around them. From a nurses’ perspective, when Dr. O’Brien walks onto the unit you know you are going to have a good day. With Dr. O’Brien, exceptional, selfless care of patients is not the exception. It’s the norm.
David Pratt, MD was nominated by Melissa Myers. He was nominated because he is “amazing!” He showed compassion and understanding to a fearful and untrusting patient in Melissa. He helped her to understand the treatments and make the decisions that were best for her and never rushed her out of her appointments. He gave her the time she needed. To quote Melissa, “Dr. Pratt changed my whole outlook on life. I’m not sure that he will ever know the magnitude of having him as a doctor has had on me.”
Joann Scherpenberg, RN was nominated by Sarah Barwell, BSN. Joann is, by training, an oncology nurse but is now the information systems expert for the TriHealth Cancer Institute. She has been blessed with the heart of a caregiver and the brain of a computer genius. Every discipline within the institute utilizes Joann to maximum capacity. Joann is a champion of patient safety. She works tirelessly on maintaining safe processes for all manners of patient care, in and out of the patient’s EMR. She is never afraid to speak up, despite the audience, to defend the patient’s right to the best care possible.
Lisa Farrell was nominated by Kent Wellington. Although very humble and soft-spoken, Lisa chairs and leads the Giving Committee of the Karen Wellington Foundation for LIVING with Breast Cancer. She has volunteered her time tirelessly and has been responsible for sending more than 150 local women LIVING with breast cancer on very special vacations. She also helps lead a Spa Committee that sends other women on special spa days with best friends, sisters, mothers, etc. followed by dinner out with spouses and friends. Last year, KWF lost 9 recipients who had gone on vacations. But for Lisa’s tireless effort, those “last” vacations would not have happened.
Pamela Levett was nominated by Camille King. Pamela has been a caregiver to countless people over the last two decades. What is so special and unique is that Pam does it all from her heart, and without any pay! Not looking for any accolades or special acknowledgment, she’s always willing to assist as a caregiver. Personally, she has made many huge sacrifices with her time, taking off work, rearranging all of her affairs and life to help Camille over the last year. Pam is a once-in-a-lifetime caregiver and friend. To quote Camille, “For her sacrifice, giving and ministry I am forever grateful.”
Kristin and Matt Meyer were nominated by Mandy Bley. Kristin and Matt founded Max’s Meals and More in 2009, shortly after their son, Max received a bone marrow transplant for Aplastic Anemia. Their lengthy hospital stay ignited a passion for caring for caregivers across the Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. They provide wonderful catered meals at least once a month to our inpatient families and are here every holiday with a meal (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc.). They also provide birthday and other special occasion cakes for children who are inpatient. Their goal is to make this most difficult journey just the tiniest bit easier, to help caregivers know that there is a community surrounding them that cares and wants to nourish them as they find their way through the day-to-day challenges.
Ben Nunnery was nominated by Jeff and Julie Pugh. When Ben and his wife, Ali, got married they promised to love each other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death did they part. Never did Ben imagine that just two years later, while celebrating the birth of their daughter, Olivia, would that promise be tested. Ali was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer. She battled for eight months with Ben and little Olivia by her side. Ben was by her side during her final hours, never complaining. Ben promised Ali that Olivia would grow up knowing that her mom loved her. He’s fulfilling that promise every day. While Ali may be no longer be here physically, she is with Ben and Olivia every day.
Carol Shoup was nominated by Connie Wiles. Carol Shoup is no stranger to cancer. Years after losing her mother to breast cancer, she was also diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through her treatment with her head held high like it was nothing. That was almost twenty years ago. She helped her sister, Connie, through a cancer battle and also helped Connie through the loss of her husband to cancer. Carol even moved into her house for a week when Russ died. “She did everything including sleep with me that first night. (Only sisters will get this)!! I will never forget that one little thing. She took care of so many things and made me laugh.” Most recently, Carol’s two daughters were both diagnosed with cancer within a month of each other. She is there, supporting them and doing anything and everything they need her to.
Barbara Vanderen was nominated by Maureen Donnelly, Maureen Gallagher, and Alexis Gutzeit. Barbara has been a committed and compassionate caregiver to her granddaughter, Alexis, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor five years ago. She was with Alexis at every appointment and inpatient stay. She built a bond with the staff providing Alexis’s care and makes sure that they know they’re appreciated. Alexis describes a fond memory of his grandmother that included laughing about a joke that ended with the term “rear wheels.” For Alexis, this joke holds the meaning of her relationship with her grandmother. “My grandmother represents my back tires. There is no real way to thank her – she is and always will be my hero.”
The Western & Southern Claims Department was nominated by Judy Hill. The support Judy received and continues to receive from Western & Southern, and most notably her co-workers in the Claim department after her cancer diagnosis has been incredible. So many have gone above and beyond offering emotional support, hospital and home visits, baked dishes; encouraging cards, motivational books, balloons, and more. On a Saturday, nearly the entire department surprised Judy by showing up at her home, gardening tools in hand. Together, they cleaned her yard, raked leaves, planted flowers, etc. Judy says, “It’s the passion and thoughtfulness of ‘my work family’ that keep me going each and every day. I don’t know what my future holds. However, I am confident in one thing – I will always have the support of my family at Western & Southern.”
Susan Brewer Ashcraft was nominated by her husband, Dale. Although dealing with her own battle against cancer, Susan was a tremendous source of strength for Dale when his son was diagnosed with cancer and eventually passed away from the disease. She was there in his grief and helped to deal with the tremendous loss of a child. Although Susan herself passed away in 2013, Dale wanted to acknowledge her as a hero, as his wife was “the closest thing to a perfect human being that he has ever known.”
Gina Donovan was nominated by Kaye Schroeder and Diane Williams. Gina was a mother of four, widowed at a young age when she got her first cancer diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She accepted it, took treatment, and went on taking care of her kids and running her landscaping business. Several years later she married a wonderful man and life seemed good until she got a new surprise, a breast cancer diagnosis. Surgery, chemo, radiation, same Gina: busy, positive, and prayerful. After several reoccurrences she still has a positive, accepting attitude. She’s an inspiration and a joy to be with.
Lisa Kaminski was nominated by Leanne Blair. Lisa was diagnosed with stage 3 vaginal melanoma in February 2014, ironically almost two years after she joined Melanoma Know More’s Board of Directors Upon receiving her diagnosis, she opted to take a positive route and went on local TV a very short time later and to share her story with all who would listen with a goal to raise awareness about melanoma. She has done all of this and more with a constant smile, positive attitude, and selfless gratitude, all while
She is always thinking of others and rarely focused on herself. According to Leanne, “Lisa has taught me that life is about giving: giving kindness, love, and time to others no matter what the situation may be.”
John Kennedy, MD was nominated by Michael and Kelly Flood. “When a cancer diagnosis happens, you have three choices: You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.” John chose the latter. Despite watching both of his parents battle cancer and suffering the recent loss of his little sister from the disease, John accepted his Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis with poise and personal determination. He drew strength from the outpouring of love from family, friends & co-workers. He openly encouraged his wife & sons to share their feelings with their peers. He continued to live his life moving forward at a pace that worked with his treatments.
Dee Markle was nominated by Elaine Levin. Dee is a tireless advocate for cancer research. She has been a volunteer with the American Cancer Society for over twenty years. She has served as a Reach to Recovery volunteer and other breast cancer support programs. She has chaired the Relay For Life and has raised countless dollars for ACS research programs. She is a positive influence to those around her and has never shied away from telling her own breast cancer story to raise awareness and offer support.
Melissa Myers was nominated by Judy Myers. Melissa has been battling cancer since 2013. She has had a rough past had a lot of obstacles in her way. In order to get the treatment she had to face her past head on it wasn’t easy. During treatment, it was a very rough road and complications occurred, but she faced it head-on. She has always had a positive attitude and made it her mission to spread the word. She is a single mom of 5 boys and she amazes Judy, her mom, every day. Melissa’s motto is don’t be sad for me. I’m not. Don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t. I can move mountains. My eyes are wide open to the joy that is life.
Angela Sparks was nominated by Jodi Zerbe. Angela Sparks is a two-time colon cancer survivor and a dynamic volunteer for the Relay For Life of Lebanon. Not only is she a wonderful leader, but she is also an inspiration to other survivors. Her cancer journey has spanned several years with multiple tests, surgeries, and various treatments. Yet throughout her experience, she has been the perfect example of a fighter. She is strong beyond belief. She has taken her diagnoses into action and has made a difference in her community as a result.