Unsung Heroes Class of 2019

Pauline Cohen Award

The Charles H. Dater Foundation was founded in 1985 and makes grants to non-profit organizations in the Greater Cincinnati area to carry out projects that benefit young people and focus on the areas of arts/culture, education, healthcare, social services, and other community needs.  Established to ensure that funding for worthwhile community programs would continue after his death, the Foundation preserves the memory and philanthropic commitment of Charles H. Dater (1912-1993) and his ancestors, whose hard work and business acumen over four generations provided them with the opportunity to share their success with their community.  The Foundation has made over 3,000 grants totaling more than $47 million.  Cancer Family Care has been blessed to receive nearly $100,000 in grant funds for our Treehouse Children’s Program.

Maureen Donnelly Courage Award

When Procter & Gamble Co. manager Brian Lauer was undergoing treatment for stomach cancer, he learned that his love of music was shared by his doctor, Dan Flora, at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. Both men have side gigs in local bands, which prompted Brian and Dan to organize a music festival, sponsored by St. E’s and the City of Fort Thomas to benefit Cancer Family Care’s services in Northern Kentucky.  The first annual Bands Against Cancer raised over $25,000 and plans for this year’s event are already underway.  The City of Fort Thomas has graciously offered to combine the event with their very successful, annual Merchants and Music event.

Tim Hedrick Memorial Awards

Don Jansen was a 2017 Unsung Hero and presented the Patient/Survivor awards at the 2018 event.  Before Don was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he was a volunteer for many community organizations and that did not stop during his battle with cancer.  In fact, he added the Pancreatic Cancer Network and Cancer Family Care to his list of volunteer organizations.  His willingness to serve inspired so many, including Cancer Family Care’s own Young Professional group.  Don was a strong man and loved his family.  In fact, just weeks before he died, he walked the 5K PanCan Walk with family and friends and refused to take any shortcuts.  Don’s energy, sense of humor, and infectious smile are missed by many!

Kimberly Williams was the first black woman promoted to Captain in the Cincinnati Police Department. Captain Williams died of cancer this past summer, at the young age of 54 but not without impacting the lives of so many in our community.  Captain Williams served in several specialized units –Street Corner, Vice, Intelligence, Personal Crimes Unit, and Chief’s Adjunct and Youth Collaborative to name a few.  She was a graduate of the Police Executive Leadership Class, the FBI National Academy, and Cincinnati Chamber’s Leadership Cincinnati Class 41.  Beyond her immense service to our community in the capacity of Captain of the Police Department, Kimberly served as a Sunday school teacher and in several ministries.  Her selfless dedication to her community should never be forgotten.

Joslin Haggart Yeiser Awards

Oncology Professionals

Andrew “Drew” Allan
Dr. Amy Argus
Sharon Blaker
TimmiAnne Boesken and Emma Chermely
Dr. Royce Calhoun
Sarah Lukey Case
Dr. Bianca Chin
Dr. Cynthia Chua
Susan Crafton
Erin Cunningham
Dr. Richard Curry
Scott Everhart
Kelly Guthrie and Stacy Holdeman
Hannah Hartig
Debbie Kennedy
Christine Leak
Kristina Marcum
Anndee Meyer and April Tucker
Cathy Reising
Faye Ross
Tina Steele
Mary Welage


Danielle Gentry-Barth
Barry Bronson
Dawn Finn
Rhiannon Hoeweler
Chantelle Jennings
Nick and Noah Kleiner
Alicia Noschang
Barbara Rebennack
Kim Roach
Sue Whitham


Denise Blankumsee
Tony Carito, Patricia Hilbert, and Carmen Moorman
Tracey Crist
Cynthia Day
Kelly Dewey
Harry Epp
Lori Falke and Christy Runions
Francis “Bear” Finn
Denita Helsinger
Barbara Horsley
Antoinette “Toni” Kuhlman
Anita Lupp
Paul Nerlinger
Ed Reising
Robert Robinson
Shelley Hastings Toms
Sharon Wagner
Patti Woeste

Oncology Professionals

Drew Allan nominated by Michelle Strole, RN
Drew works at The Christ Hospital cancer center, where many patients have commented on his compassionate care and concern for family members as well as the patient. He serves as a preceptor for new staff and helped to develop systems charting treatment as well as a chemotherapy reference system. Michelle calls Drew “my rock.”

Dr. Amy Argus nominated by Priyanka Ranatunga
Dr. Argus is a radiologist who worked with Priyanka when she developed breast cancer while undergoing treatment for Stage 4 lung cancer. Throughout her treatment, Dr. Argus provided a realistic assessment of her condition, outlining treatment options with an optimistic outlook about how to move forward, giving Priyanka great confidence to battle her cancer. “Dr. Argus is a kind, caring and compassionate individual,” she writes.

Sharon Blaker nominated by Tammy Sutton
Sharon is an oncology nurse at St. Elizabeth where she inspires everyone every day. A cancer survivor herself, Sharon performs the difficult skills of chemotherapy delivery as well as arranging social services, financial assistance for patients, and mentoring new nursing staff. She is a hero for anyone touched by cancer.

TimmiAnne Boesken and Emma Chermely nominated by Lisa Grate
TimmiAnne Boesken and Emma Chermely work at UCCI to help patients match up with programs to increase medication affordability. They bring a wealth of knowledge and resourcefulness that benefit patients who could not otherwise afford the costs. Their hard work and care are so appreciated by UCCI patients.

Dr. Royce Calhoun nominated by Michele Kenner
Dr. Calhoun is a thoracic surgeon at St. Elizabeth, where he has focused on early detection and treatment of lung cancer, the #1 cancer affecting Kentuckians. Dr. Calhoun has recruited additional thoracic surgeons and established a dedicated thoracic surgery unit.  He initiated collaboration with the Mayo Clinic Care Network.   “Dr. Calhoun does a great job advocating for the patient and bringing new care methods to our delivery of care with the nursing staff,” Ms. Kenner wrote.

Sarah Lukey Case nominated by Lisa Grate
As a former GYN/ONC social worker at Barrett, Sarah had high volume clinics, with a multitude of referrals, yet always made time to address each issue with empathy and grace. A specific example was a young woman with cervical cancer, who needed chemo and radiation. She had several young children, poor health literacy, and history of non-adherence to medications and attending appointments. Throughout this woman’s cancer journey, Sarah was steadfast in making appointments, following up when those appointments were missed. Sarah was truly a key factor in this woman’s survival.

Dr. Bianca Chin nominated by Cooper Tyree
Dr. Chin is an oncoplastic surgeon who loves what she does and demonstrates that passion to her patients. Her attention to detail surgically and her compassion during follow-up are frequently cited by her patients. She goes above and beyond for every patient in her care.

Dr. Cynthia Chua nominated by David Ranz and the staff of OHC’s Blue Ash office
Dr. Chua demonstrates devotion to her patients and her colleagues every day, taking time to explain procedures and treatment and always studying the latest information on treatment options. Her humanity and attentiveness are frequently mentioned by both staff and patients. “We feel so honored to work with her every day.

Susan Crafton nominated by Susan Brokamp
Susan Crafton has been an oncology nurse since 1983 at The Christ Hospital’s Cancer Center, where her care for patients and their families describer her as compassionate, empathic, reliable, and consistently positive. She is a tireless advocate for professional development at TCH’s School of Nursing and serves on the Professional Advisory Board of Cancer Support Community.

Erin Cunningham nominated by Michelle Strole, RN, Ellen Humbert, Andrea Rosenthal, and Cooper Tyree.
Erin Cunningham is a nurse practitioner at The Christ Hospital Cancer Center, working with Dr. Irfan Firdaus. She is noted for her expertise and compassion for all her patients and has had to step into difficult situations when the attending physician was away. She handled these cases with great diplomacy and skill, earning the respect and gratitude of her patients and their families.

Dr. Richard Curry nominated by Stephanie Green, CNP
Dr. Richard Curry works with brain cancer patients, who face a difficult diagnosis and prognosis. He cares for the patient’s entire family, making sure needs are met and their questions answered.  He treats each patient as a person. Despite the challenges they face, he perseveres to instill hope in each patient.

Scott Everhart nominated by Dr. Nicholas Marko
Scott Everhart is a neurosurgery physician assistant at UCCI, providing care for patients with brain tumors. Dr. Marko says that “it is literally impossible to imagine how our patients would get the care they need without Scott overseeing every detail, every time. I can’t imagine taking care of brain tumor patients without him.”

Kelly Guthrie and Stacy Holdeman nominated by Lisa Grate
Kelly Guthrie and Stacy Holdeman are certified oncology dieticians who work at UCCI. They work on feeding and secretion management, and management of patients with pancreatic cancer. Providers and patients trust their recommendations and appreciate their communications and advocacy for quality patient care.

Hannah Hartig nominated by Kelly Guthrie
Hannah Hartig is a social worker at UCCI’s Center for Head and Neck Cancer. She works hard to optimize care for a population with complex needs and keeps her multi-disciplinary team abreast of issues that affect a patient’s care. “We are better at delivering care because of her hard work.”

Debbie Kennedy nominated by Teresa Raines
Debbie is the director of medical oncology services at St. Elizabeth where she has served for 30 years. She was one of the first oncology research nurses at St. E and oversaw a difficult transition when a large group of oncologists left private practice and joined the cancer center. Many of the center’s achievements can be credited to her hard work and perseverance.

Christine Leak nominated by Paula Weisenberger, MD
Christine Leak is an oncology nurse at OHC’s Hamilton office. She provides patients with resources for education and offers a sense of calm and compassion to patients and their families. Dr. Weisenberger writes that Ms. Leak is not only part of the OHC family, she is also a part of many of her patients’ families.

Kristina Marcum nominated by Sarah Werk
Kristina works at TriHealth’s Oxford Cancer Clinic. Her dedication to providing excellent patient care and working to get treatment plans approved through insurance companies has earned her the title “fearless leader” for handling the pressure with grace and style.

Anndee Meyer and April Tucker nominated by Dr. Elizabeth Shaughnessy
When Dr. Shaughnessy, a breast surgeon at UCCI, was diagnosed with breast cancer, she turned to April Tucker, her nurse, and Anndee Meyer, the nurse navigator, to coordinate her patients’ care needs with her own treatment. Dr. Shaughnessy writes that their work “allowed me to move forward…with a clear mind, relieved that our patients’ trust had not been compromised.”

Cathy Reising nominated by Randy Nutter
Cathy is the manager of Cancer Registry, Quality and Community Outreach for St. Elizabeth. She oversees programs, the cancer resource library, and the Cancer Care Committee that focuses on standards of care. Her attention to detail is unmatched and she will bring her skills to St. E’s new Cancer Care Center next year.

Faye Ross nominated by Dr. Ed Crane
Faye Ross works with patients at TriHealth’s Cancer Clinic. Dr. Crane cites her intelligence and understanding of available patient resources as outstanding. “What she does makes me a better physician and a better person.”

Tina Steele nominated by Robert Stover
Tina is an oncology nurse at TriHealth who cared for Robert during his cancer journey. “Tina changed my life and I see it very differently now. What she has is something that can’t be taught. God has put her right where she belongs: in these peoples’ lives. You either have it or you don’t and she has it. For sure, she is a keeper.”

Mary Welage nominated by Sarah Barwell
Mary is a nurse who worked in administration for many years and decided to go back to patient care. She works with the high-risk cancer population at Good Samaritan.  Mary bridges any potential gaps in care. She finds them rides, food, shelter, heat, delivers their medications, holds their hand, gives lots of hugs, makes hospital/hospice visits, and comforts the families at funerals. God put Mary on Earth, with her giant warm heart – to be this person for our patients.


Danielle Gentry-Barth nominated by Maurice Bason
Danielle Gentry-Barth is the regional chair for PanCAN and has developed a local culture of patient and caregiver support through her advocacy for patients and their families. She has helped to raise over $1.8 million for research grants and patient support initiatives and constantly works to raise awareness and hope.

Barry Bronson nominated by Christopher Compton and Jon Alexander
Barry Bronson, Christopher Compton, and Jon Alexander have been friends since their college days in the late 60s. Jon was diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer which was not responding to treatment.  Chris was able to help Jon, who lives in Oregon, be admitted to a clinical trial at the Cleveland Clinic but Jon did not have the means to get to Cleveland.  Barry paid for him to fly in and drove him from his own home in Lexington to Cleveland.  Jon says, “this saved my life.”

Dawn Finn nominated by Lisa Grate
Dawn’s care for her husband, Francis, is extraordinary, writes Lisa Grate. She manages his medications, paying attention to glucose levels and titrating insulin as needed. She brings treats for the clinic and infusion staff, as well as a sense of joy and gratitude to each treatment session.

Rhiannon Hoeweler nominated by Dr. Stella Davies and Alyssa O’Connell
Rhiannon is the Cincinnati Zoo’s coordinator for Creature Connection, a collaboration with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center that provides monthly zoo animal visits for children with cancer and their families. Patients from all over the world, and families say that they feel the love and kindness of the Cincinnati community when strangers reach out to create such a special experience for their child.

Chantelle Jennings nominated by Sarah Werk
Chantelle is her mother, Denita’s, caregiver. She attends every treatment appointment with an organized list of questions and concerns. She advocates for her mother, ensuring that the best care is provided for her loved one.

Nick and Noah Kleiner nominated by Dr. Ed Crane
Nick’s wife and Noah’s mother, Stephanie, died last year from breast cancer. During several years of treatment, Nick attended most of Stephanie’s appointments and treatment sessions and Noah would do everything to lift her spirits. Their support was essential for Stephanie and their strength and outlooks are helping them to adapt to their new normal situation.

Alicia Noschang nominated by Lisa Malling, Susan Prifti, Bill Katris, and Mary Burns
Alicia is a dog trainer working with CCHMC’s Pets for Patients program. She finds the right pet to fill the needs of families whose children have cancer, staying in touch with families even after treatment has ended. She is cited by her nominators for her extraordinary compassion and care. “She finds that pet. Love. Hope. Healing.”

Barbara Rebennack nominated by Vicki Estridge
Barbara is a retired nurse who volunteers on Tuesdays at the Hoxworth BMT clinic, the center’s busiest. She works tirelessly to support patients, caregivers and the medical staff. Her kindness and compassionate manner put patients at ease and help them deal with difficult questions. “She volunteers her time and her time here is priceless!”

Kim Roach nominated by Dr. Ajit Gubbi and Sue Whitham nominated by her children
Kim’s sister, Tammie Courtney, died from breast cancer in September 2018. Kim was there night and day for her sister and the rest of the family, as well. The emotional and physical support she provided is an inspiration to her family, her friends, and the medical staff who cared for her sister, too.

Kim and Tammy’s mother, Sue, had recently retired and took over caring for Tammy’s young family, as well as being with Tammy for every treatment session, every doctor’s visit, and every test. “My brothers and I know how hard it was to lose our sister; we can’t imagine what it felt like to lose a daughter. Mom, you have always been our rock. You are and always will be, our hero.”


Denise Blankumsee nominated by Susan Hittinger
Susan calls Denise “the angel of the Cancer Center”. Before each treatment at The Christ Hospital, Denise asks every staffer how they’re doing before they can inquire about her feelings. One would never know the battle she faces because of the good vibes she brings to everyone. “She may have the smallest voice now but she definitely has the biggest heart and smile.”

Tony Carito, Patricia Hilbert, and Carmen Moorman were nominated as a group by Dr. Paula Weisenberger
Tony, Patricia, and Carmen had no connection with one another until cancer brought them together for treatments on Wednesdays at OHC’s Hamilton office. Tony has pancreatic cancer and checks in with every other Wednesday patient, providing hope and encouragement. Patricia is an expert quilter and gardener who brings in plant starters for patients and quilted items for patients and staff. Carmen supports other OHC patients when she comes in for treatment, providing a kind word and a ready ear to her fellow patients.

Tracey Crist nominated by Sarah Werk
Tracey is a patient at TriHealth’s Cancer Center. “She provides emotional support to other patients in our infusion center. It’s an inspiration to see Tracey maintain her strength and compassion through her treatment and beyond.

Cynthia Day nominated by Joan Manzo
Cynthia is a teacher whose dedication to and passion for children continues to motivate her despite an ongoing battle with ovarian cancer. She not only teaches, but she also organizes fundraisers for her school, meets with teachers and parents, and never slows down. Even after a tough round of chemo, Cynthia genuinely asks everyone she meets, “How are you doing? How is your family?” And beyond that, Joanie writes that the impact Cynthia has had on her caregivers at OHC is “life-changing.”

Kelly Dewey nominated by Emily McGill and Meg
Kelly Dewey is a patient at UCCI and always has a smile on her face when she comes for treatment. Her strength and courage inspire the staff. “We admire your strength and beauty as you fight this battle and still keep your head up. We hope you know how inspiring you are and how much we have all learned and grown from knowing you.”

Harry Epp nominated by Dr. Paula Weisenberger
Harry continues to serve as a volunteer fire chief and a food bank volunteer as he undergoes cancer treatment. Dr. Weisenberger is inspired by her patients who serve their communities with dedication and compassion, even as they go through a tough journey.  Harry definitely does that.

Lori Falke and Christy Runions nominated by Lisa Farrell and Kim Ciesick
Christy and Lori are breast cancer patients who were recipients of special trips provided by the Karen Wellington Foundation, which provides free spa vacations for women with cancer. Since returning from their trips, they joined the KWF Ambassador Board, providing leadership, inspiration, mentoring, volunteer services including speaking engagements and more. They give back and pay it forward to make a difference in the lives of many other women LIVING with breast cancer.

Francis “Bear” Finn nominated by Lisa Grate
Bear has cholangiocarcinoma and well-outlived his prognosis. The most amazing thing about Bear and his wife, Dawn, is the joy and gratefulness they bring with them when they come for appointments. They always bring treats for the clinic and infusion staff (which is a lot of people), and I can always count on him for a smile, hug, and conversation.

Denita Helsinger nominated by Dr. Ed Crane
Denita is undergoing aggressive treatment for breast cancer with a generous and selfless attitude that extends to her desire to participate in research that would benefit other patients. “She has a beautiful blend of determination, warmth, and optimism.”

Barbara Horsley nominated by Sarah Wilson, CNP
Barbara Horsley went through chemo and always had a smile to offer. She kept the staff laughing with her stories and sought to understand her treatment process. Sadly, she passed away on March 30th.  She was so touched by this nomination that it was even included in her obituary.

Antoinette “Toni” Kuhlman nominated by Sandra Starnes
Since Toni was diagnosed with stage III lung cancer in 2014, she has become an advocate for the fight against lung cancer, chairing UCCI’s lung cancer community advisory board and raising money through her company for research and patient resources. “She chooses to focus on others, directing her passion and energy to improve the outcome for lung cancer patients.”

Anita Lupp nominated by Anita Ingram and the Vineyard Cincinnati Women’s Bible Study Fellowship
Anita’s faith has sustained her through the difficult treatment for breast cancer that included a double mastectomy, but she never missed leading her Bible study group. She is a medical professional herself, working with the cardiac intervention team at Good Samaritan Hospital. Her faith continues to inspire her family, her colleagues, and friends.

Paul Nerlinger nominated by Michelle Strole, RN
Paul was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016 and had a recurrence in 2017. Through his vigilance about attending treatment sessions and keeping up his nutrition, he is doing well. He encourages other patients, inspiring them and the staff at The Christ Hospital’s cancer center.

Ed Reising nominated by Dr. Ed Faber
Ed Reising was OHC’s first patient to undergo CAR-T therapy, a treatment for patients with blood cancers. With his generous spirit, he expressed the hope that his experience would help guide his team of experts and future CAR-T patients in the refinement of this ground-breaking treatment. He is a symbol of hope, positive outlook, and gentle humility who leads by his example of courage, faith, and determination.

Robert Robinson nominated by Stacy Holdeman
Robert’s infectiously positive attitude has helped him through a difficult cancer diagnosis two years ago.  He continues to receive treatment at UCCI. “He is always thanking the people around him, even for the smallest gesture. He makes it clear how very grateful he is to still be around.”

Shelley Hastings Toms nominated by Carrie Sprague
Shelley works as a nurse at TriHealth’s surgery center. She also has ovarian cancer and since her 2015 diagnosis has become involved in ovarian cancer research and advocacy, speaking with patients about her own experiences. She maintains optimism and is an inspiration to all who know her.

Sharon Wagner nominated by Gina Wash
Sharon was diagnosed with Stage 4 lymphoma in 2017 and continues to work as an RN telephonic case manager while continuing to undergo treatment bi-monthly. She’s the mother of two teenage daughters and is a tireless volunteer, leading a Girl Scout troop and other projects throughout the Northern Kentucky community.

Patty Woeste nominated by Lisa Lape
Patty had three young children when she was first diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. She had a recurrence 23 years later. Now living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, she continues to be the most generous and caring person that Lisa knows. She provides meals for families with newborn babies, hosts family gatherings, and babysits her grandchildren. She takes exercise and nutrition classes to make herself stronger so that she can keep being of help to others.