Cancer is not a life sentence.
At least for the luckiest of us.
And I should know. About eight years ago, I noticed a knot behind my ear. Imagine my surprise when the news came back that it was Merkel cell carcinoma. What followed was an overwhelming series of tests and doctor's visits culminating in a 15-hour surgery to remove the tumor.
I still vividly remember the fear and anxiety that came with that diagnosis. You worry about everything-including the concern and inconvenience that your family will endure.
One of the first thoughts with any cancer diagnosis is:
What am I going to do? Where am I going to go?
Thankfully, the new Sentara Brock Cancer Center has provided the answer to those questions, with a consolidated place where you can find the best care imaginable, guided by the angels that we call patient navigators.
During my treatment, I went to several well-known cancer facilities, so I know what I'm talking about when I say we have some of the best physicians right here at home. No longer do you have to travel out of town or be separated from your family while going through treatment.
Sentara saw the need for a world-class facility right here in Hampton Roads-one that attracts the best doctors and specialists in research-a place everyone in our community can be proud of.
In recognition of what a true asset the new Sentara Brock Cancer Center is to the residents of Hampton Roads, my family and I are proud to be one of the first contributors to the Beyond Cancer campaign, which provides funding for the programs housed in the new center.
Our family has a long tradition of philanthropy in the area. Giving back is important to us and we love this community. We support the Beyond Cancer campaign because we recognize just how vital the health of this region is and that nearly everyone will be touched by cancer during their lifetime. Supporting this campaign is also a way to honor those whose experience with cancer was not as easy.
During my treatment and after, I had dozens of scans in the mobile PET unit. After seeing the beautiful new PET Suite in the Cancer Center, our family decided to put our name on the new facility, which offers a much more comfortable and accessible way to receive these life-saving tests. We also made this gift as a tribute to the compassionate, first-rate staff who cared for me in the PET unit.
It is heart-warming and humbling to know we have done something to make future cancer patients' paths a little easier.
There are so many ways to offer your support to the new Sentara Brock Cancer Center, with a contribution or pledge to the campaign, or by purchasing a brick in the beautiful new Healing Garden to honor or commemorate a loved one or caregiver.
I encourage you to join Audrey, Holley, Allan, and the rest of our family in supporting the Beyond Cancer campaign and help make the Sentara Brock Cancer Center a place for healing and a resource our community can truly be proud of.
Elizabeth "Betty" Darden