Unsung Heroes Class of 2014

Pauline Cohen Award

Presented to gyro

Cancer Family Care recognizes gyro for the outstanding contributions to over the past nearly 20 years, first as HSR Business to Business and then as gyro after a merger in 2009. They truly embody what the Pauline Cohen award represents—taking a small idea and making it a BIG one in order to help others.

When a small, local non-profit thinks about advertising and marketing, it often causes angst as we know that the budgets are small for these areas. We know that the focus of our dollars is to provide services to our clients. We know that a global company like gyro with its successful business model and creative minds would be completely out of our price range. For the executive management and the rest of the staff at gyro, that doesn’t matter. They believe in our mission whole heartedly and therefore offer us their services pro bono. It’s impossible for us to list all that gyro has done for us over the years, but we do know that over half of a million dollars in service time has been provided to us. And we are eternally grateful. gyro brought the look of Cancer Family Care from a Publisher Clip Art organization to the branded, clean and classy look that we have today. gyro, for that, we thank you and we honor you.

Maureen Donnelly Courage Award

Presented to Vycki Haught

Vycki Haught is one of the most sensitive and compassionate social workers. Mason High School is the largest high school in the state of Ohio; and because of its size, many students can possibly slip through the cracks, especially those that are not in the mainstream for whatever reasons. Students impacted by cancer are those kinds of students because they are either learning to live with serious illness in the family or are learning to cope with the death of a loved one; and often this journey is a lonely one for students because few of their peers understand this experience or the stress that often accompanies it. Because of Vycki’s personal and professional experiences with cancer, she has developed a great sensitivity to students and families impacted by cancer, and she has responded by ensuring that these students are directed to services that can help and support them. It is because of Vycki’s efforts that Cancer Family Care has been invited to partner with the Mason City Schools for many years in offering counseling and support groups services there to students and families.

Joslin Haggart Yeiser

Oncology Professionals

Jayapandian Bhaskaran, MD was nominated by his colleague, James Maher, MD, PhD. Dr. Bhaskaran has trained and mentored many of the practicing oncologists within the Greater Cincinnati area for more than thirty years. His commitment to high standards of clinical practice has inspired many of these oncologists to provide the best standard of care possible. His sometimes frank discussions with grateful patients provide them with a clear picture of what to expect and his insight into recent advances have allowed him to help patients who otherwise had no hope.

Ronda Bowman, RN was nominated by David Ritter. Ronda began her career in oncology as a nurse. She then progressed from being a clinical manager of fifty employees to her now current role at OHC of Chief Operating Officer with over five hundred employees. Early on in her career, Ronda worked with a young cancer patient who was delaying treatment due to a pregnancy. The young woman did not survive, but her baby did. That patient had such an impact on Ronda that she dedicated her career to oncology care. Fast forward 25 years. The baby of that young patient is now a nurse and a member of Ronda’s oncology team at OHC.

David Draper, MD was nominated by Kaye Schroeder and Susan Martin. Kaye and Susan are sisters of one of Dr. Draper’s patients, Marilyn Martin. He was new to the practice and Kaye, a former oncology nurse, had a different doctor in mind for her sister. Dr. Draper was only to be a “temporary doc” until the other returned from a mission trip. That switch never happened. The three sisters were all so comfortable and confident with Dr. Draper that he remained Marilyn’s oncologist until she passed away last year. He gave top-notch care and encouraged Marilyn to live out a dream and take a trip to Ireland. He helped her believe that she had the strength to do so, and she did.

The Financial Services Team at OHC was nominated by David Hammon. Their dedication to and compassion for cancer patients is evident every day. They assist patients with Medicare and disability applications and explore insurance benefits and available financial resources. In 2013 alone, they were able to provide patients with $1.3 million in assistance, money that patients would owe if not for them. They truly put patients first.

Jaime Lewis, MD was nominated by Nedra Groggins-Sage. When Nedra was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, Dr. Lewis became her oncologist. As Nedra says, “To say I was a difficult patient is probably an understatement.” But Dr. Lewis gave Nedra the time and attention she needed. She was able to help her find joy on her bad days. Even when Dr. Lewis was on maternity leave, she continued to check in on Nedra. Nedra stated that her cancer treatment was a blessing because of Dr. Lewis.

Jane Masters, LISW was nominated by the “newly diagnosed breast cancer women in room 4.” Jane is a social worker who leads this group at the Cancer Support Community. She empowers the women in the group to share, cry, speak up, and fight with everything they have. She has helped them to see that cancer appears to take everything from you, yet it also brings many good things into your life. Jane is one of them.

John Morris, MD was nominated by Patricia Hudson. According to Patricia, “Dr. Morris is special.” He is very caring and explains things in a way that a patient can understand. He treats his patients as people, individuals with needs and fears. He keeps a positive attitude and encourages his patients to do the same.

Sue Nickoson, RN was nominated by Sue Partusch. As a nurse, Sue has spent her entire career in oncology care, first as a staff nurse and then later as a manager. She encourages her nursing staff to not just perform their duties, but to excel at them, putting the patients first in all they do. Sue is dedicated to the oncology nursing profession and helping staff to grow in their careers. She empowers them to try new things, to further their education and to work with her and other staff to improve the systems, treatments and environments for themselves and their patients.

Yash Patil, MD was nominated by Nicole Auton. Nicole has worked with Dr. Patil for over five years and her first encounter with him was one that showed her his compassion for his patients and their families. She heard him talking to the wife of one of his patients, asking her how she was doing. When Nicole glanced into the room, Dr. Patil was sitting across from the tearful wife, comforting her. He is compassionate and down to earth with all of his patients and helps to them know that they are truly not alone on this journey.

Kevin Redmond, MD was nominated by Patricia Hudson. Dr. Redmond knows his patients. He knows what they need from a medical perspective as well as from a coping perspective. He is personal and caring and doesn’t ever make his patients feel like they’re imposing on his time. He helps his patients to know that what they enduring is all a part of a treatment plan and explains to them why. He performs his duties with loving care.

Sharon Sanker, RN was nominated by Sue Partusch. According to Sue, Sharon is “the quintessential bedside nurse.” She is a skilled listener and gives her patients her undivided attention. Her patients comment that she makes them feel safe, protected and most importantly, hopeful. Not only does she help cancer patients locally, but she lobbies for changes in legislation and has extended her community outreach all the way to Nicaragua. Sharon makes everyone around her, whether a patient, nurse or physician, want to be their best.

Wagih Shehata, MD was nominated by Mark Witte. During Dr. Shehata’s oncology career, he has routinely interacted with some of the most world renowned experts in modern radiation oncology. He has taken this expertise and his clinical experiences and brought radiation oncology in Cincinnati to new levels. He has helped to gain new accreditations and to bring new programs and trials to further research and improve the outcomes and the quality of life of cancer patients.


Thomas Flege was nominated by Susan Pavlech. When Tom’s wife, Brenda, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 2010, Tom vowed to stay positive, stay the course and enjoy life because, in his words, “What other choice is there?” Not only is he the primary caregiver for his wife, but he also works full-time at GE Aviation and has helped GIVEHOPE, a pancreatic research and awareness fund, raise more than $100,000 for pancreatic research.

Jeff & Miriam Gilkinson were nominated by Sara Kosel, RN. Jeff and Miriam know all too well that life is short and to enjoy every second of it. Their younger son, Holden, has a metastatic Wilm’s tumor. The Gilkinsons are their son’s biggest advocate. They know what’s going on with his treatment and they share that information at a level that Holden and is older brother, Hayden can understand. In 28 years as an RN at CCHMC, Sara has seen many wonderful parents, but has never seen parents as unselfish as Jeff and Miriam. “Their grace through the most difficult life situation that any of us can imagine is beyond description.”

Holden Gilkinson passed away on May 22 at the age of six, two days after the Unsung Hero Awards. Our prayers and condolences are with the Gilkinson family and their extended family of supporters.

Terry Meyers was nominated by Brooke Gillespie. Brooke described Terry as “husband of the year – no- make that of the century.” In 2013 Terry’s wife, Debbie, had a recurrence of breast cancer after fifteen cancer-free years. Some complications left her in ICU and on a ventilator for months. Terry never left Debbie without someone by her side. His “bulldog” nature to get her the best care possible enabled her to miraculously recover, walk out of the hospital and return to their home.

Linda Peak was nominated by her daughter Amanda Noble, RN. Linda’s husband (Amanda’s father) was diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer in April of 2013. Surgeries and chemotherapy were the treatment options. Throughout, Linda cared for her husband at home as much as possible. After only a few short months, it was clear that home hospice was needed. Linda sacrificed every minute of her day and never once complained. According to Amanda, a certified oncology nurse, her mom gave her dad the BEST care possible and showed their family the true meaning of loving someone fully.

Cheryl Saylor was nominated by Shannon Helton. After Cheryl’s daughter, Jaymie Jamison, was diagnosed with cervical cancer, she became her caregiver, taking Jaymie to doctor’s appointments, caring for Jaymie’s four young children and spending many nights in Jaymie’s hospital room. After only ten months, Jaymie passed away. In order to try to prevent other families from dealing with this kind of loss, Cheryl created the Jaymie Jamison Foundation of Hope to create awareness around cervical cancer screenings.

Brittany Spurlock was nominated by Andrea Cline, RN. When Brittany was sixteen, her mother passed away. Her grandmother, Betty Wynn, became the mother figure in her life and the two developed a strong bond. When Betty was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, their roles changed and Brittany became the caregiver. At age 24, she left her job to move in with her grandparents to take care of them both. Brittany selflessly takes care of tube feedings, dressing changes, and trach care, in addition to the daily grooming needs of her grandmother. She has been “caught” by the nurses at the Cancer Center, curled up, asleep next to her grandmother’s hospital bed.

Brittany was unable to attend the Unsung Hero Awards due to her grandmother’s passing the week prior. We extend our prayers and condolences to Brittany.


Ellen Clark was nominated by Sharon Sanker, RN. Ellen was diagnosed with AML in 2008. Her positive attitude and caring spirit are contagious. According to Sharon, “Ellen is a true inspiration!” She is known to make other patients smile while waiting for their appointments. Ellen loves today because she is not afraid to face tomorrow.

David Hummel was nominated by fellow Cancer Family Care Board member, Sara Vance Waddell. David was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at the age of 18 months. That, coupled with losing 3 close family members to cancer, prompted David to want to make a difference. He is a long time member of both Cancer Family Care and Starshine Hospice’s Boards. David has been inspired others to take a bad situation and make good things come out of it.

Meghan Kirkpatrick was nominated by Kathy Teipen. Meghan was first diagnosed with cancer at age eleven and then again at age seventeen. Meghan’s determination to do something good in the world, led her to set her career goal to become a children’s art therapist. Just recently, at the age of twenty-six, Meghan passed away, but her spirit lives encouraging others to do something good in the world.

David Magliocco was nominated for his amazing attitude and spirit in the midst of a recurrence of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He has always kept the concern for his wife and children in the forefront striving to maintain a sense of normalcy for them. He stays connected to other cancer patients and has even shared his story with others.

Brenda Merrick was nominated by Blair Schoen. Brenda’s life has always embodied a certain drive…to not only survive but to push herself and others to be all that they can be. She credits early diagnosis for her full recovery from lymphoma. During her cancer treatments, Brenda continued to work at Santa Maria Community Services as a counselor and educator. She has not wanted recognition or shared her cancer journey, but now is willing to do so, in the hope that it will help others gain the strength and hope that she received during her battle.

Judy Morand was nominated by Karin Wiles, RN. According to Karin, Judy touched so many lives, “just by being Judy!” A rare type of Leukemia took Judy from this world this March, but her spirit lives on in her family and friends. Judy was a person who made you feel good, happy, safe and loved. Throughout her illness she was never rude, mean or grumpy, but rather made others laugh and feel better.