More than 250 generous supporters of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute joined together for an inspirational gala held Oct. 3 at the Wilmington Country Club, with supporters gathering to strengthen patient-centered care at one of the nation’s most advanced centers of cancer treatment.
The Celebration of Hope gala offered an elegant evening of socializing and raised $193,000, thanks to the dedicated efforts of The Friends of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute. The gala’s proceeds benefit the Psychosocial Oncology & Survivorship Program, which provides counseling and other services to patients and families affected by cancer.
“We help people live as fully as they can from diagnosis to treatment and beyond,” said Scott Siegel, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and the director of Psychosocial Oncology & Survivorship. “We assist with a lot of the human challenges that come with being diagnosed or having a loved one dealing with cancer.”
There is strong demand for these services. About 48 percent of the patients followed annually by Graham Center cancer clinicians have a need for some type of psychosocial support. “Our biggest challenge is in keeping up with the demand,” Siegel said.
The Celebration of Hope gala will help Christiana Care to meet that demand and enable the cancer psychology team to implement new models of care.
“We are enormously grateful to all in the community who support what we do,” he said.
The Friends of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center are a group of 65 volunteers celebrating their 12th year of supporting patients and clinicians at one of the nation’s first centers designated as a U.S. National Cancer Institute Community Cancer Center. The Friends work in cooperation with the clinical staff of the Graham Center to help fund programs that enhance the patient care experience, support cancer research and provide education on prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer.
Carroll M. Carpenter, chair of Christiana Care Health System’s Trustees and the founder of the Friends, said that it’s vital to support psychosocial services because cancer patients and their families should not feel alone and isolated. She praised the current group of volunteers for engaging the community to assist Delaware’s leading cancer research and treatment facility.
Lois Galinat, current chair of the Friends, said being a part of the charity is important for many people in the greater Delaware community. “We’ve all had family and friends affected by cancer, either directly or indirectly, and we need to work together to support our loved ones who face this disease,” Galinat said.
Midway through the evening, Galinat took to the stage to thank attendees, sponsors and silent auction donors who made the event possible, as well as co-chairs Diane du Pont, Amanda Friz, Karen Kimmel Legum and Elisa Komins Morris. Galinat said their energy and leadership was instrumental to the evening’s success.
Among those expressing their appreciation to the Friends was Nicholas J. Petrelli, M.D., FACS, Bank of America endowed medical director of the Graham Cancer Center. “Thanks to their support for many of our programs and technologies, we are able to provide cutting-edge, high-quality care to our patients,” Dr. Petrelli said.
For example, Christiana Care’s Center for Translational Cancer Research, established in 2009, moves bench research to the bedside by applying basic science discoveries to the development of cancer therapies.
Janice E. Nevin, M.D., MPH, president and chief executive officer of Christiana Care, expressed her gratitude to Carpenter and other volunteers who have helped raise more than $2 million during the past 12 years. She said their philanthropy was in keeping with The Christiana Care Way.
“The funds raised through the Friends have made such a difference in the lives of the people we serve, allowing so many patients to live as they want to live,” said Dr. Nevin.
The work of the Graham Cancer Center also inspired Delaware celebrity chef Dana Herbert of Desserts by Dana to create an ice sugar sculpture in the shape of a peacock, a symbol for the 2015 Celebration of Hope. And during the early part of the evening, percussionist Chan Lee Pow of Newark performed an array of songs on steel drums.
In 2013, Pow underwent surgery at the Graham Cancer for prostate cancer and was impressed with the professionalism of the Christiana Care staff. “I wanted to perform as way of saying thank you for all the great care I received,” he said.