For Thomas Chapman, a very personal experience gave him the desire to support Piedmont Healthcare’s Cancer Wellness initiatives. The former Equifax CEO and chairman lost his first wife Jane to cancer in 2003. During her treatment, he found himself wishing there was a resource who could navigate them through the ups and downs of the process, from the medical to the emotional.
Chapman and his wife Karen recently donated more than $1 million to Piedmont Healthcare to support the expansion of the system’s Cancer Wellness services, including the Patient Navigator program and Cancer Wellness expansion. The gift allows Cancer Wellness to continue to offer its classes and services free of charge to all cancer patients – regardless of whether or not they were treated at Piedmont – and grow the program to other areas.
A resource for cancer patients and their families
“I was touched by the love [and] the care of those that tried to cure [Jane] and make her better,” Chapman explains. “But [there was] also the frustration and anguish as a caregiver and with her as a patient when things were needed, when things didn’t go right, when schedules needed to be changed, when infusions were scheduled, but she wasn’t well enough to go. I found a huge void. Having felt that, we set forth to try to fill it. And that’s being done.”
Chapman’s donation supports the expansion of the Patient Navigator program, which is designed to help reduce the stress, anxiety and confusion that often comes with a cancer diagnosis. Patient navigators are oncology nurses who have been specially trained to provide patients and their families support and education regarding hospital and community resources. The navigator also serves as the liaison between the patient and his or her healthcare team. The Chapman family’s gift will enable Cancer Wellness to hire three additional patient navigators and two financial navigators.
“I think any time anyone has contact with cancer – the treatment of cancer, or in my case, the loss of a loved one with cancer – you have a deep appreciation of the trauma, the sadness, the hope that goes with this dreaded disease,” says Chapman. “[Cancer patients] need a helping hand, someone they can trust, that cares and that understands what [they’re] going through. The navigators do. They’re trained, they’re experienced, and that’s what the patients and caregivers need.”
“We’ll give back until we find a cure.”
Chapman’s vision is for the navigator program to continue to expand to other hospitals, providing even more support to patients and their caregivers, and “somehow lighten the load a bit while the physicians are doing their part.”
A cancer survivor himself, Chapman says, “I understand what it’s like if you do not have someone to lean on, to get support when those very, very dark times hit you when you’re going through treatment. The broader we can [expand the program], in as many hospitals as we can and touch as many communities [as we can], we’ll serve better. We’ll give back better until we find a cure.”
Chapman encourages potential donors to come forward and meet the program’s funding needs.
“My vision is that more will continue to give back to expand programs [such as] Wellness Without Walls, the Navigator program, and the use of technology to enlighten and to comfort,” he says.
Chapman knows donors want to see how their contribution is making an impact on the lives of others.
“The thing that a donor wants is to know that their gift helps,” Chapman says. “It makes you feel like you are making a difference and you see that difference in their eyes, in their faces, in the joy they seem to experience through some of the tools that we’re providing to make them feel better until we can get them well.”