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Archive for Monday, April 29, 2013

Gift to help put ‘name and face’ to cancer care

April 29, 2013

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Teresa Walsh knows the importance of quality cancer care, having watched her father fight the disease at Kansas University Hospital.

Years later, she and her husband, Tom, a 1980 KU graduate, are helping to advance cancer care in the area, giving $2.5 million to the KU Cancer Center's nurse-navigation program, the hospital announced Monday.

Nurse navigators help cancer patients with everything from making appointments to emotional support. The Leawood, couple's gift will allow the hospital to hire five new nurse navigators, each specializing in a different form of cancer.

Teresa and Tom Walsh

Teresa and Tom Walsh

"It puts a name, a face and a person behind the experience at the University of Kansas Cancer Center before they even step foot in here," remarked Physician in Chief Terry Tsue, who said the program is helping the facility become a model for National Cancer Institute-designated centers nationwide.

This isn't the first time the husband-and-wife entrepreneurs have given to the KU Cancer Center. They founded the patient-navigation program with a $2 million donation in 2011. Because of the success of the initiative, the hospital decided to expand it.

The navigators are usually oncology nurses who have suffered from that specific form of cancer themselves. Tsue said that personal experience helps relieve anxiety in patients.

Nurse navigators are with patients from the time they are diagnosed, organizing their medical information so doctors can make the best possible decisions about their care, Tsue said.

"As soon as you hear the word 'cancer,' you forget everything else," he said. Nurse navigators are there to listen, he added, providing a vital link between doctor and patient.

The KU Cancer Center plans to hire 10 specialized nurse navigators and hopes to eventually have enough on staff so that every patient has one.

Comments

Jennifer Klopp 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Well no wonder she is wearing such beautiful jewelry! Thank you to the Walshes for such a thoughtful, generous gift. This program will benefit so many cancer patients and their loved ones for years to come.

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MurphyCat 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Great work, Teresa! She is also one of the founders of Silpada Designs, the sterling silver jewelry company.

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FloridaSunshine 11 months, 3 weeks ago

As a cancer survivor/thriver, I must say the KU Cancer Center has been blessed by Teresa and Tom Walsh. What a caring, generous, and loving couple!! The patient-navigation program is such an important part in the treatment of each patient. As Tsue commented in the article, and it is indeed true...as soon as one hears the word 'cancer', everything else said is immediately forgotten...or simply not processed. The brain seems to go into overload mode. What a blessing to have a nurse (particularly one who has gone through your own type of cancer) beside you to navigate through all the information you have to digest.

I received my care from Florida Hospital Waterman Cancer Center in Tavares, Florida, and from my diagnosis to the last treatment, it was a loving and spiritual environment exactly like a huge, extended family. Everyone knew me on a first name basis (a nick-name, at that!) and everyone, from oncologists to nurses to technicians, became part of my heart. They were ALL incredible. I didn't run into even one grumpy or rude or non-caring person during my whole experience. How many of us can say THAT about any hospital we've ever been to? I certainly cannot.

Patients at KU Cancer Center will benefit immensely from the giving spirits of this wonderful couple!

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