Unsung Heroes Class of 2018
Pauline Cohen Award
In honor of our founder, recognizing outstanding contributions to Cancer Family Care and our mission
Presented to the Van Kirk Family
Community Impact Award
Recognizing outstanding contributions to the lives of people who are touched by cancer
Presented to Steelcraft/Allegion
Joslin Haggart Yeiser Awards
Dr. Stella Davies
Dr. Edward Faber
Dr. Rod Flynn
Dr. Andy Parchman
Dr. Paula Weisenberger
Kathy Ball, RN was nominated by Kristin Meyer. Kathy has been nurse care manager for Kristin’s son Max for over eight years after he underwent bone marrow transplant surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Kathy does all she can to ensure that her patients get the best care possible and just as important, she takes time to get to know the families involved. She is a constant source of kindness, understanding support, and advice. Her response to difficult situations helped Kristin and her family many times. Recently, Max was re-admitted to the bone transplant unit and the family was terrified but Kathy was always there for him, checking on the family and listening to their concerns. She is such an Unsung Hero!
Andrea Cline, RN was nominated by her colleague Jaimie Robinson. Andrea has been an oncology nurse at The Christ Hospital for almost thirty years. She has worked on the patient floors, chemotherapy clinics and is now an RN educator, a position that takes the lead in keeping a care team informed of changes in medications, procedures, etc. While working full-time, Andrea received her Master’s degree in Nursing Education and serves as adjunct faculty at TCH’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences. She and several colleagues established the first Oncology Nurse Residency Program in Ohio. She is passionate about education, not only for students and staff but also for patients and their families, who give her rave reviews. And she finds time to write and direct the annual Christmas holiday show. Her flexibility, her sense of humor, and her dedication to patients and education is truly awe-inspiring.
Dr. Stella Davies was nominated by Kristin Meyer. Dr. Davies is head of the Bone Marrow Transplantation and Immune Deficiency Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and worked with Kristin’s son Max, who was seven when had a bone marrow transplant. Dr. Davies is always there for patients, and her interactions with patients and their families embody her commitment. Max recently developed abdominal pain and was re-admitted to the unit, where Dr. Davies and her team quickly diagnosed the issue and how best to resolve it. Max’s family knows that he has the best care possible and that they can call on Dr. Davies when the need arises. They are grateful for her every day.
Dr. Edward Faber was nominated by Cassandra Thompson-Scott, a receptionist at OHC. When she was told she might have a form of cancer at a local emergency room. Dr. Faber, an OHC hematologist, and oncologist took charge of her care. He immediately made her feel better simply by his presence and constant communication with Cassandra and her family. She did not have cancer, and Dr. Faber referred her to the appropriate specialist. Dr. Faber’s honesty, compassion, and empathy lessened Cassandra’s fears and brought back her smile of hope. He is truly her hero.
Dr. Rod Flynn was nominated by Andrea Cline, an oncology nurse at The Christ Hospital. Dr. Flynn is a surgical oncologist with expertise in a procedure called HIPEC, a treatment alternative for patients who might have no other option but hospice. The procedure was new to TCH, and prior to Dr. Flynn’s arrival, the department received a huge file containing orders for consults throughout the hospital. But when Dr. Flynn met with the nursing staff, he reviewed the procedure in detail, explaining the importance of these consults to patient outcomes. He immediately impressed the nursing staff with his collaborative spirit, his eagerness to work with his new team, as well as his sense of humor. He keeps in touch with former patients, and one of them commented that she would like to see every surgeon be like him. His nursing staff and his patients agree.
Brooke Gillespie, CNP, was nominated by Rodney Haley. Brooke has been caring for Rodney since his lung cancer diagnosis in 2014, first at The Christ Hospital’s Cancer Center and currently at OHC. She is Rodney’s rock, survival kit, and a trusted guide through times of darkness, always knowing what to do and say to keep him going. She made sure that he understood procedures and took responsibility for his quality of life. For Rodney, Brooke is his doctor, and he credits her with saving his life.
Marilyn Israel, RN, was nominated by Rodney Haley. Marilyn is a nurse at The Christ Hospital’s Cancer Center. Rodney calls her a ray of sunlight, someone who’s been at his side unconditionally since his first treatment in 2014. When he had an allergic reaction to a chemo treatment, Marilyn stayed with him and helped to bring him back. She’s more than an Unsung Hero—she’s “Mama Mia.”
Harriet Kumar, CNP was nominated by Charlene Salyers. Harriet is a nurse practitioner at UC Barrett Center where Charlene was a patient. Harriet takes time with every patient, answering questions that frequently require more investigation. Recently, Charlene had to take “not so pleasant” pictures in order to fully explain a difficult situation to Harriet—who responded in detail and with appreciation. She has a way of reaching out to every patient, frequently with laughter, providing the kind of encouragement and support needed, especially when discussing complex medical information. Charlene’s granddaughter accompanied her to an appointment and gave Harriet the ultimate compliment, saying she was more like a sister than a nurse.
Nikki McGlone, RN was nominated by, Ashley Kelly. They have known each other since middle school, and have become closer the last 2½ years. Nikki has been by her side through every test, every hospital stay, and making sure she keeps her sanity. When Ashley needed a spinal tap and was frightened, Nikki offered to take her break to come and make sure she was okay. Ashley says that Nikki has found her calling as an Oncology Nurse. “From the bottom of my heart, as a patient, and even more as your friend, thank you for EVERYTHING!!!”
Shannon Miller, RN was nominated by Dr. Royce Calhoun, the thoracic surgeon at St. Elizabeth Medical Center. Shannon is that nurse with the ready smile, the playful laugh, warmth, support, affection, and caring. Shannon will call the patients, guide them through tests, give them support and generally be there for them. Shannon exhibits all those qualities with her co-workers as well. Shannon’s colleagues are fortunate to have her as part of the thoracic surgical team.
Randy Nutter was nominated by Shayna Hamilton on behalf of all of the St. Elizabeth Edgewood Cancer Care Staff. Many nights Randy stays late after they’re closed to work on needs for patients such as housing, transportation, or helping with setting up resources or care. He is a kind and gentle spirit who deserves to be recognized for all the great help he has provided patients over the years. Randy has does everything from helping to gather & distribute Christmas presents for families to speaking with landlords to get rent paid for patients. He has worked with St. E’s foundation to cover daily transportation for radiation patients, and he works with many outside resources to ensure patients have education classes available to them. Thank you Randy for being such a wonderful hero to our patients and the community!
Dr. Andy Parchman was nominated by Dr. Edward Crane from the TriHealth Cancer Institute. Dr. Parchman is a medical oncologist at TriHealth whose commitment to his patients extends to their families. He is concerned about every aspect of a patient’s quality of life, from treatment plans to nutrition and psychological issues. His patients say that he’s not just treating cancer, he’s looking out for them as a person. He’s an inspiring leader, in charge of several projects including one that ensures the latest therapeutics and the best supportive methods during treatment. Dr. Parchman is a great physician, a great leader, and a great person.
Chris Phelps, PA-C was nominated by Dr. Royce Calhoun, the thoracic surgeon at St. Elizabeth Medical Center. Chris has the most even-tempered demeanor and navigates so many situations with patients and staff during difficult operations. Chris is always there to do what needs to be done, never complaining and with gentleness, kindness, and grace that are truly amazing, day in and day out. St. Elizabeth Medical Center is very fortunate to have Chris as part of the thoracic surgical team!
Danielle Potter Robinson, LPN, was nominated by Judy Brandell and Glenda Fields, Nurse Navigators at Fairfield Hospital’s Cancer Center. Danielle has worked with Dr. Jacqueline Palmer for the past two years and in that time has been a constant source of support, encouragement, and hope for patients. She is a team player, a learner, and goes the extra mile for patients and their families. Danielle is quick to give an extra word of encouragement, follows up with patients by phone, and is a consistent patient advocate. She also is her mother’s caregiver 24/7 and in spite of this demanding role, she always thinks of others and genuinely enjoys being in service to others. You know you’ve been touched by Danielle with her signature hug!
Amy Sander, RN, was nominated by Rodney Haley. Amy was one of Rodney’s nurses at The Christ Hospital’s Cancer Center. Her smile, presence, and professionalism inspired Rodney to keep fighting, show up for his appointments, and “pull the big boy pants on.” She inspires everyone for who she cares.
MaryLou Sauer, RN was nominated by Susan Boyer of TriHealth. Mary Lou is a Nurse Navigator and goes above and beyond for cancer patients on a daily basis, beginning with biopsy results. She will frequently stay late to make phone calls, keeping in mind her patients’ unique circumstances when speaking to them. She takes her time with every patient to ensure they have everything they need throughout their cancer journeys. She will find funding, transportation, social support and anything else needed. Her compassion is deeply appreciated by patients who ask for her when they come for follow-ups, even if it’s just to give her a thank-you hug. You may not want her services but if the need arises, you couldn’t be in better hands.
Nancy Schuster, LSW was nominated by Shelley Kaufman of Mercy Health System. Nancy is a social worker in the cancer center at Mercy Hospital in Fairfield. Nancy drew on her own experience when she was worked with a patient who was dying of breast cancer and in acute respiratory failure. The family didn’t want pain medication administered due to the potential for increased confusion. Nancy had a heart-to-heart talk with a family member, sharing her story of a similar situation with her sister who had died of cancer six months earlier. She gave openly of herself so that others could learn about the dying process and how to help a loved one through it. “Nancy showed them you can hold your loved one in your heart instead of holding onto them.”
Lauren Taylor was nominated by Sarah Browning, a Medical Secretary/Transcript at St. Elizabeth Cancer Center in Grant County. Lauren receives multiple compliments from patients and their families. One patient commented that she has a personality that lights up a room. Lauren goes out of her way to help everyone. An oncology center can be a difficult environment for patients and staff but Lauren makes it better for everyone, especially for patients. Her positive and caring attitude is contagious and the staff absolutely adores her—as do patients.
Karen Temple, RN was nominated by Dr. Evan Lang, medical oncologist, and director of the cancer program at OHC in Fairfield. Karen is an outstanding nurse, known for her compassion and for being the last one to leave the clinic. She makes sure that orders are taken care of and future treatments are prepared. She is concerned for all the center’s patients and treats them and their families with extraordinary care and in turn, her patients value her commitment to them. Her colleagues appreciate her hard work and dedication and honor her with this nomination.
Dr. Paula Weisenberger was nominated by Teresa Gabbard at OHC. Dr. Weisenberger, a medical oncologist working in Fairfield was cited as a tireless advocate for patients, always trying to see the good in everyone and putting the needs of others before her own. She greets every patient with a smile and makes each one feel as if they are her only patient. She often pays for taxis to get patients to and from the office and is equally committed to her staff. She embodies the meaning of a health-care professional: committed, caring, empathic, dedicated, and professional.
Sarah Werk, RN was nominated by Dr. Edward Crane at TriHealth. Sarah is not only a kind and caring woman, she is a fierce advocate for every patient. On several occasions when patients have been denied a scan, treatment, or supportive care medication by insurance companies, Sarah has intervened and had the decision reversed. When Dr. Crane met with an insurance company, the representatives told him they had never spoken with anyone as intelligent and kind as Sarah. Her compassion extends to sharing in patients’ successes and providing a shoulder to lean on. She is a terrific team member and an awesome advocate.
Brittany Arrington was nominated by Dr. Edward Crane, the medical oncologist at TriHealth. When Brittany’s mother was diagnosed with bone cancer, Brittany immediately took charge of her mother’s care. She was able to learn and understand the diagnosis better than many health care professionals. She relayed information to her mother’s community to help them better understand the issues and treatment plans. Brittany makes an effort to accompany her mother to appointments, taking time off from work, asking excellent questions with impressive understanding and knowledge. The treatment is helping to control her mother’s cancer but so are the care and involvement of Brittany and her mother’s supporters.
Kim Ciesick and Lisa Lape were nominated by Lisa Farrell of the Karen Wellington Foundation for LIVING with Breast Cancer. Kim developed and plans Spa Day experiences for the Karen Wellington Foundation for LIVING with Breast Cancer. She plans and coordinates the day and takes on responsibilities for delivering flowers, champagne, and gift bags to recipients. Her work inspired Lisa, a breast cancer survivor and Spa Day participant to join the KWF volunteer team, working with Kim to create a day providing rest, relaxation, and fun. A recent participant wrote to thank KWF and the volunteers. “I felt incredibly grateful for this incredible gift. Thank you for caring for me and making this happen.”
Leanne Feldhaus was nominated by Dr. Christy Sapp, a medical oncologist working in Edgewood, Kentucky. Leanne was the primary caregiver for her husband, Allen, Sr., who passed away on October 28, 2017. Allen coached some of the most impressive high school teams in the state’s history and Leanne would have made any of those teams proud. From the moment of Allen’s diagnosis ten years ago, Leanne battled by his side, a partner and advocate. Allen didn’t use a cell phone, so virtually all communications went through Leanne. She coordinated and scheduled doctors’ appointments, handled prescriptions, pharmacy calls, and insurance issues. She faithfully attended every doctor’s appointment and she was with him day and night when he was hospitalized. Allen’s disease required daily treatment in Maysville, Kentucky, a three-hour drive Leanne did every day. Allen remarked fondly and often that Leanne’s cooking enabled him to continue to enjoy the simple act of eating. She acted selflessly and tirelessly to provide her husband with anything and everything that could lift their days and soothe their nights.
Lori Gasperec was nominated by her sister, Jen Rapien. Lori was just 21 and a student in nursing school when her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In between classes and working, Lori sacrificed nights out and hours of sleep to take her mom to doctor’s appointments, chemo treatments and consultations. She held her mom’s hand, cleaned her wounds, administered medications, and dedicated herself to making sure her mom felt comforted and sustained until she passed away in 2015. Her care embodies grace, compassion, and selflessness, the true definition of an unsung hero.
Rob Harpum was nominated by Dr. Royce Calhoun, the thoracic surgeon at St. Elizabeth Medical Center. Robin’s wife has Stage IV ovarian cancer and his grace, dignity, and support of his wife are more than awe-inspiring. He accompanies his wife to her medical appointments and is always positive with a sense of levity. You could not ask for a better, more loving support person.
Fred Kelly was nominated by Nikki McGlone, Oncology Nurse Navigator at St. Elizabeth Hospital. Fred’s wife Ashley was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer two years ago. Fred inspires everyone in the way he stands by Ashley and never waivers in his love and commitment. Ashley has said that any time she felt weak and discouraged, Fred gave her strength to face another doctor’s appointment, the reassurance that she did not need her hair to be beautiful, and the security of knowing he will always be there with a deep love to help her face down any obstacle.
Maurice Bason was nominated by Danielle Gentry-Barth, Affiliate Coordinator for the Cincinnati chapter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Maurice has defied the odds for pancreatic cancer: he was diagnosed ten years ago and since that time, he has dedicated himself to ensuring that patients have the proper resources. He is one of PanCAN’s most active volunteers, giving hour after hour to provide care, counsel, and camaraderie to those who need it most. Maurice has made special connections with every area hospital systems, oncology, and healthcare providers and is available to talk to anyone recently diagnosed. On many weekend mornings, Maurice can be found at a local coffee shop talking with a pancreatic cancer patient. He never misses an opportunity to educate and is a constant presence at local conferences. He is an inspiration for the local and national pancreatic cancer community.
Tammy Courtney was nominated by her Oncologist, Dr. Daniel Flora. Since being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in April of 2015, Tammy has faced a variety of physical and emotional challenges. She has undergone several major surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation but continues to maintain boundless optimism. Despite not always feeling well, she lives her life with kindness and selfless gratitude. At every visit, Tammy makes an effort to ask about the office staff and prays for good health for them and their families. Although limited by her disease she continues to fight to live every day to its fullest. She is an amazing mom, wife, daughter, and sister. She enjoys attending her twin boys’ athletic and school events and enjoys baking for her friends and family. Most recently she has started hand-crafting dolls and donating them to orphaned and underserved children in the area. Tammy is battling cancer with bravery and self-sacrifice. She exemplifies a hero in every sense of the word.
Ashley Gill was nominated by Aly Collopy who works at The Christ Hospital Cancer Center. Ashley is one of the most positive people who has gone through so much but is never without a smile on her face. Her face lights up the room when she comes in. Her two young daughters and her husband are her worlds and she stays positive for them. She genuinely cares about everyone and seems to put others’ needs before her own. She is an inspiration for all who in contact with her!
Ramona Harmon was nominated by her sister Anita Ingram. Ramona is a Stage 3, five-year breast cancer survivor. The mother of six children, three of them fostered, Ramona and her husband run their multi-generation home with the efficiency of a Fortune 1000 company. Ramona is courageous and fiercely dedicated to her family that includes two siblings who are cancer survivors and her dad who is currently struggling with cancer. During Ramona’s treatment and recovery, she made use of CFC’s services and expressed gratitude for the support her family received, especially the on-site counseling sessions for the children at their school and at home. Her praise for CFC inspired Anita to join the CFC board and Anita adds that Ramona’s experience convinced her that CFC is an organization whose mission is an inspiration, especially to survivors like Ramona.
Judi Harpum was nominated by her Oncologist, Dr. Royce Calhoun. Judi exemplifies the best qualities anyone could ever hope for when battling a deadly illness. She continues to live her life to the fullest, she takes new information, setbacks in stride, she is determined to keep up the fight but on her terms, she is calm, at peace, and accepts that not all is within our control. Judi is a true hero and tonight we celebrate her.
Ashley Kelly was nominated by Nikki McGlone, Oncology Nurse Navigator at St. Elizabeth Cancer Center. Ashley was just thirty when she received a diagnosis of Stage IV metastatic breast cancer two years ago. She has undergone multiple surgeries and chemotherapy treatments as well as countless doctor’s appointments. Through it all, she and her husband Fred continue to provide their children with a normal and happy life. The day she was discharged from the hospital following major surgery, Ashley insisted that Fred take her to their daughter’s basketball game so she could see her mom cheering her on from the stands. Ashley and her husband face cancer with grace, strength, unwavering love for family, and much-needed humor. They are truly unsung heroes to each other, their children, and everyone who knows them.
Julie Manning was nominated by Amanda Simpson of St. Elizabeth Cancer Center. Julie has a beautiful voice and her biggest fan was her daughter Melissa, who often suggested that Julie should be on America’s Got Talent. Julie’s daughter died unexpectedly a couple of years ago, and when America’s Got Talent announced a regional audition, Julie summoned the courage to sing in front of the judges. She said she felt Melissa was there to give her strength. Her story is a symbol of hope, strength, and resilience. Losing her daughter and having cancer did not stop her from fulfilling her aspirations and she shares her story with other cancer patients to help them do the same. She is an inspiration to everyone lucky enough to know her.
Melissa Mohr is a true testament to what it means to be a survivor and hero. Melissa was nominated by her Christ Hospital team of Michelle Strole, Andrea Rosenthal, Ellen Brennon-Humbert, Erin Cunningham, Irfan Firdaus, and Misty Bostic. She was diagnosed with Stage III Ovarian Cancer in 2014, and her cancer journey has been filled with challenges that have impacted every area of her life. Even in the most difficult times when her pain and nausea, frequent hospitalizations, surgeries, and setbacks were too much to tolerate she was able to find her strength and resilience within to keep moving forward with a sense of hope. For weeks it seemed that she was at that cancer center daily, but even then she was always able to find a way to smile, laugh, and lift the spirits of the other patients and staff. She continues to push through life with a dedication to helping others’ cancer journeys a little easier. This is been shown through a willingness to participate as a spokesperson for the Christ Hospital Yoga program as a way to help and encourage other patients to try alternative treatments for pain and emotional distress. Melissa is also an active advocate for Ovarian Cancer and never hesitates to take on a challenge. Melissa has been an inspiration to everyone at the Christ Hospital Cancer Center.
Elaine Naysmith was nominated by oncologist Dr. Ajit Gubbi, who wrote that even though Elaine lives in Gibraltar, Michigan, she deserves recognition. Elaine adopted two young boys she is raising on her own. Last year, she was diagnosed with an aggressive ovarian carcinoma and after recovering from a complete debulking surgical procedure, she completed an aggressive regimen of combination intraperitoneal and intravenous chemo and is now on maintenance chemo. During this difficult time of treatment and recovery, she took her sons (now ages 7 and 11) to and from football practice, school events, and other activities. She spent hours watching their practices, never missing one. She came for treatment while the boys were in school, saying she wouldn’t miss her kids’ games, practices or events for anything. She epitomizes the ideals of care, compassion, and humanity and she refuses to let cancer get in the way of being a mom.
Priyanka Ranatunga was nominated by her physician, Dr. Edward Crane. Priyanka has been able to thrive and succeed with living a full life despite a diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer. She supports her two daughters with their high school activities. That includes bringing breakfast to the entire swim team at 6 AM following early morning practice and planning delicious dinners following evening practice. She and her husband love music and they attend musical events supporting area students even if their daughters aren’t participating. Priyanka always looks for ways to help others in need and is a beacon of positive energy giving of her time and efforts.
Jacqui Roell was nominated by her mother, Marilyn Seikop, a fellow cancer survivor. Jacqui was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2016. Overcoming the devastating news, Jacqui became totally involved in her treatment. She is active in several cancer care and advocacy groups including Pink Ribbon Girls and Cancer Family Care. She is a passionate advocate for patients and their families. In addition to two interviews on local TV stations, Jacqui is a frequent speaker at cancer care events. She is a mentor for cancer patients and a hero to all who meet her.
Shannon Villalba was nominated by Heidi Bright. Shannon was diagnosed with cancer six months after she began experiencing symptoms. In addition to chemo and radiation treatments, Shannon made use of complementary and holistic therapies, a strategy that enabled her to be cancer-free just five months later. She created HIME Wellness: (Healing through Inspiration, Motivation, and Education). HIME Wellness provides information on holistic and integrative medicine through monthly events featuring integrative medical professionals and therapists. These events also benefit organizations such as Pink Ribbon Girls and the Women’s Health Initiatives Foundation. She reaches out through connecting someone to a class, a blog post, or important information. Shannon’s mission is to inspire and teach people to take charge of their lives in the hope that they will help others.
Carole Wolfe was nominated by members of The Christ Hospital’s Radiation Team. Carole underwent a challenging series of radiation treatments for head and neck cancer while her husband was fighting metastatic prostate cancer. At the same time his care needs increased, Carole was fighting the terrible side effects of radiation but she never complained to any of the radiation staff and was steadfast in her commitment to her husband’s care. He died on Christmas Day, 2017 and in spite of this loss, Carole expressed her gratitude to the radiation staff with goodies throughout the year and a gift for a staff member’s new baby. Her dedication to her husband while not neglecting her own health care and needs, coupled with her acts of selflessness toward others are examples of her extraordinary strength and compassion.