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‘I had no choice but to beat this.’

Dr. Patricia Flowers was religious about her mammograms. She had been since she turned 32.

She’d lost her mother to the disease when she was 5 years old. She knew breast cancer was a possibility. And she was committed to staying as far ahead of it as possible.

Then, in the summer of 2014, she found a lump in her breast. Her annual mammogram was just a few weeks away, but she decided to move it up.

“I knew my lumps, but this was different,” Patricia recalls. “What really stood out was that I felt the nodule in my armpit, in my lymph nodes.”

So, she got a mammogram and follow-up testing. Three weeks after she first found the lump, she got the call from her doctor at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center. She had breast cancer, stage 3. She was 42 years old.

“I was exercising on the elliptical when he called and told me, and I just said, ‘OK’,” Patricia recalls. “And I remember him saying, ‘Do you mind if I ask if you’re alone right now?’ And I said, ‘I am home by myself, but I’m not alone.’”

The road to recovery 

Patricia called her sister first.

“I said, ‘It’s cancer.’ That was the first time I’d said it out loud, and that’s when I cried,” Patricia recalls.

That would be one of just a handful of breakdowns throughout her entire cancer journey. She knew firsthand how hard it was going to be. She also believed she would beat it, and her faith never wavered.

“I had no choice but to beat this. I just never had any kind of moment where I thought I wasn’t going to,” she recalls. “The next day I went to visit my mom’s grave, and I had a conversation with her. Then I just went from there.”

Patricia was assigned a team at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center and forged an instant connection with her doctor, Patricia Zekan of Novant Health Oncology Specialists in Winston-Salem.

“She suggested that I do the genetic testing, especially given my history. And I did have the BRCA2 gene mutation,” Patricia recalls. “She explained that meant the possibility of it coming back was greater if we didn’t really do extensive treatment.”

That’s what she did: Patricia chose to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. She endured 33 radiation treatments and eight chemo treatments over the course of 16 weeks. Because her cancer was estrogen receptor positive, her medical team also recommended a complete hysterectomy, which thrust her into the throes of menopause with no hope of estrogen-induced relief.

She also started on letrozole, an aromatase inhibitor, in 2015, a one-pill-a-day commitment she was at first told would last between three and five years. Later, that was extended to seven years. Now, her doctor tells her it may be more like 10.

“Every time she tells me that, I think about how many medications have been spread across my counter, and now I just take this one very small pill. And I’m just really thankful,” Patricia says. “I always say, ‘I’m going to be around to take it. If you say seven years, I’ll be here. If you say 10 years, I’ll be here.’”

The challenges

Chemotherapy can wreak havoc because it is eradicating cancer from your system. Some side effects passed Patricia by, while others hit hard.

She was spared the vomiting and lost toenails. Even the nausea was manageable with medication. But she developed a blood clot in her left arm as a result of her port-a-cath. She also lost her sense of taste, right around Thanksgiving, and developed a serious infection in her mouth, which made it painful to swallow.

That wasn’t all bad, Patricia laughs. She lost a few pounds as a result.

Through it all, she had a strong support system. Her posts on Facebook reunited her with old friends and new survivors to form a community of “pink sisters” who understood what she was going through, more than her husband or sister could.

“My sister has never heard the words ‘breast cancer’ with her name attached to it. She’s never sat in that chair and watched that chemo drip. Even though they’ve gone through a lot of the visits, it didn’t happen to them,” Patricia explains. “It’s nice to talk to people who can relate.”

At the same time, some relationships outside her sisterhood have struggled, including her marriage.

“My husband and I are separated, and I’m good with that. It was for a season. And during that time, it taught me a lot,” Patricia says. “I was most vulnerable with him, so it allowed me to be vulnerable with someone. But it also allowed me to really focus on how to let go.”

The surprises 

Patricia used to say her mother “lost” her battle with breast cancer.

After her own bout with cancer, her perspective has changed and, along with it, her wording.

“I don’t say that anymore. I say that cancer robbed us of this person because no one loses that battle,” Patricia explains. “Every day you get up after you hear the words, ‘You have cancer,’ you’ve survived it.”

Life after cancer 

These days, Patricia has no tolerance for excuses when it comes to mammograms.

“Every excuse that someone can come up with, I promise I can find a way around it: ‘My breasts are smaller.’ ‘It’s uncomfortable.’ ‘It will hurt,’” Patricia says. “And I’m like, ‘You know what hurts and is really uncomfortable? Getting both your breasts cut off.’ I’m very no-nonsense about that because early detection is key.”

Patricia uses her own story as a case in point.

“My cancer was stage 3. That was with me getting mammograms every year. And I’m convinced that it was there in 2013. But because I have dense breasts and got a 2-D mammogram, it was missed. And it just grew,” Patricia explains. “I’m a strong advocate for 3-D mammograms, especially for women who have dense breasts, because that will help with the earlier detection.”

We’re advocates, too…

We’re advocates for the power of mammograms for every woman, regardless of her ability to pay. That’s why we work every day to increase access to mammograms for under and uninsured women across our region. Early detection saves lives, and every gift to our Think Pink Fund goes directly to a life-saving 3D mammogram to someone in our community.

Help us today by giving whatever you can to support the cause.

No more excuses. Just more mammograms.

Click below to join us and pay it forward for a woman in need.

Donate now

Novant Health Foundation welcomes Ann Caulkins as new President

Former Charlotte Observer publisher helms the Foundation in new role

Novant Health Foundation is pleased to welcome Ann Caulkins as our new President, and we congratulate her on her co-role as Senior Vice President of Novant Health. As the new face of leadership within the foundation, Ann will focus on expanding its profile within local communities. We look forward to having her lead our mission to engage and connect donors to Novant Health programs and initiatives that save lives and improve the health of the communities we serve. With a passion for impact, the six distinct regional foundations actively inspire giving which aides projects and efforts that directly impact patients. They focus primarily on five key areas: infants and children, cancer, heart and vascular, stroke and neuroscience, and research and education.

Caulkin’s impressive professional experience includes her most recent role as the president and publisher of The Charlotte Observer for just over 12 years. Additional accomplishments and participation include:

  • Past president and publisher of The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina
  • Harvard University Graduate School of Business Executive program, Women on Boards: Succeeding as a Corporate Director
  • Board of directors for Crossroads Charlotte, The Fletcher School and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation
  • The Women’s Impact Fund
  • International Women’s Forum
  • Women Executives
  • National Association of Corporate Directors
  • Baylor University alumnus

In the news

Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation: Wallace Cancer Center

Cancer care has a new home

Novant Health Rowan Medical Center has always been on the forefront of improving quality of life in our community by offering a remarkable patient experience. There is a new opportunity to transform the healthcare landscape for generations to come. An opportunity that will improve patient care and focus on prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, research, and making it easier for the patient to receive services. Once completed, the Wallace Cancer Center will contain all current cancer services in one convenient location. Live construction cam

Help make a difference

Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation has launched a $12 million Capital Campaign, to support the construction of a state-of-the-art cancer center. The center will tackle some of the most difficult and complicated medical challenges today, as well as be prepared to face issues that will confront our region tomorrow. The Wallace Cancer Center will profoundly impact patient quality of life by personalizing patient-centered care, improving accessibility, increasing affordability, enhancing care coordination and providing leading-edge treatment. Donate to the campaign

About the
Wallace Cancer Center

Impacting patients’ quality of life


Click here to download more information about the capital campaign so you can share with others.


Groundbreaking ceremony

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Wallace Cancer Center was held on December 10, 2018. Read more about the groundbreaking ceremony in the Salisbury Post.

Click above to view more photos from the groundbreaking ceremony.

Naming ceremony

The naming ceremony for the Wallace Cancer Center was held on September 19, 2018. Read more about the naming ceremony in the Salisbury Post.

Click above to view more photos from the naming ceremony.

Martin Truex Jr. and Sherry Pollex donate $1.2 million to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation

Martin Truex Jr. and Sherry Pollex donate $1.2 million to fund an emergency pediatric department and integrative medicine oncology clinic

Martin Truex Jr., the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, and his longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex, have made a $1.2 million gift to fund two health initiatives close to their hearts. The first will establish the Martin Truex Junior Foundation Pediatric Emergency Department at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center. This will be the first pediatric emergency department for the Lake Norman area, one of the nation’s fastest growing markets.

The second part of the gift will establish the SherryStrong Integrative Medicine Oncology Clinic at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center. Diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2014, Pollex suffered a recurrence in 2017 that required surgery to remove her spleen. In February, she completed her final round of chemotherapy. Throughout her treatment, she used the best of conventional medical care with carefully selected complementary, integrative therapies to help optimize her health. It is her hope that the new clinic will enable others to do the same.

Pollex and Truex said their contributions to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation will provide healthy and positive outcomes for adults and children living with cancer complications.

 

Honoring the hands that make a difference

Her hands were gnarled and worn from work, and bore the scars of injury. But as Hunter Roddey remembers them, they were “the most beautiful hands I’d ever seen – because of all they had been doing,” he said.

The hands belonged to a Novant Health team member who devoted her days to caring for patients during surgery. She stopped during her workday to participate in Blessing of the Hands, a ceremony led by people such as Roddey, a chaplain at Novant Health Matthews Medical Center. Blessing of the Hands events, which will take place across our markets during Healthcare Week, are a special chance for many of us to honor the hands that do so much good throughout our communities. 

Chaplains and volunteers pour water over a person’s hands, dry them and touch the hands with fragrant oil as they pronounce a blessing. Whether or not people practice a faith, all are welcome and included at Blessing of the Hands. The events reflect what we all know intuitively: that with our hands we have the opportunity to help, to hold, to heal.

Think about the hands that have helped all of us throughout our lives: the hands that cooked our meals, that held ours on that first scary day of school; the hands that waved goodbye as we left home, that shook ours when we accepted a job offer.

At Novant Health, we’re delivering remarkable care with the help of everyone’s hands. These hands are serving others in so many ways – from typing on a keyboard to cleaning equipment, from delivering a newborn to holding a patient’s hand during her last moments of life. We place a high value not only on delivering leading-edge care for even the most complex cases, but also on truly knowing our patients and making that care personal. It’s healthcare that’s high-tech – and high-touch. 

“It’s amazing to think of all the tasks hands do each day for the patients,” Hunter said. “Keeping things stocked in the utility rooms, keeping things clean, getting the place built, making sure the phones work. It’s important what your hands – and your heart – do in this place.”

When our hearts are in the right place, our hands follow. We are so thankful for the hands that help us in our mission to make communities healthier, one person at a time.

 

Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation partners with local Panera Bread locations to improve access to 3-D mammograms

Winston-Salem, N.C. – This month, customers at Panera Bread restaurants in Clemmons, Kernersville as well as two locations in Winston-Salem now have the ability to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar in support of the Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation’s efforts to improve community access to 3-D mammograms.

Money raised during the change roll-up campaign will go toward a brand new mobile mammography unit that will be equipped with 3-D technology and allows the Novant Health Breast Center to expand community mammography services in the Triad. 3-D technology increases chances of finding a small cancerous lesion by 41 percent over previous 2-D technology.

“Early detection and prevention are keys to beating breast cancer,” said Heather Egan, a development officer with the Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation. “This is a way the whole community can share excitement by helping more women have access to mammograms.”

The current campaign is with Panera Bread’s largest franchisee Covelli Enterprises and lasts through Feb. 28. Novant Health is the first health system in Winston-Salem to offer 3-D technology on a mobile unit.

 

About Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation

The philanthropic efforts of Novant Health’s foundations inspire giving that supports programs and initiatives having direct patient impact. Novant Health’s network consists of more than 1,500 physicians and over 26,000 team members who provide care at over 470 locations, including 14 medical centers and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the health system cares for more than 4.4 million patients annually in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.

Our regional foundations focus on critical needs in five areas: infants and childrencancerheart and vascularstroke and neurosciences and research and education.

Through the generous support of individuals, families, companies and grant-making institutions, Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation supports Novant Health in its mission to improve the health of our communities, one person at a time.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube to learn more.

 

To support the Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation’s Women’s Council Mammogram Coach Campaign, click below.

Together we pledged to give more than $1.4 million through Giving. Serving. Together.

In September and October, all Novant Health team members were invited to participate in our corporate-wide team member giving campaign, Giving. Serving. Together. Because of their generosity, we collectively pledged $1,443,683.16 to local nonprofit community partners and Novant Health regional foundations. By donating 28 percent more than we did last year, this year marks our most successful Giving. Serving. Together. campaign ever.

Our team member’s contributions will support:

  • Access to care
  • Employee assistance
  • Services at free clinics
  • New technology and updated equipment
  • Patient programming
  • New facilities
  • Education and research
  • Assistance for individuals in need of shelter, food, clothing and personal care
  • And much more

About Novant Health
Novant Health is an integrated network of physician clinics, outpatient facilities and hospitals that delivers a seamless and convenient healthcare experience to communities in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. Named in 2016 by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the nation’s 150 best places to work in healthcare, the Novant Health network consists of more than 1,500 physicians and over 26,000 employees that provide care at over 470 locations, including 14 medical centers and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the health system serves more than 4.4 million patients annually and in 2016 provided more than $725.5 million in community benefit, including charity care and services. Diversity MBA has recognized the organization as one of the 50 best places for women and managers of diverse background to work and SK&A ranks Novant Health among the top 25 integrated health systems in the nation. Novant Health provides care in Virginia under the joint operating company, Novant Health UVA Health System.

For more information, please visit our website at NovantHealth.org.

 

Novant Health receives $7 million gift from Michael Jordan

Novant Health and Michael Jordan announced a $7 million gift to open two Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Clinics in Charlotte. These comprehensive medical clinics will serve some of the most at-risk and underserved communities in Charlotte and are expected to open in late 2020.

The Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Clinics will provide vital access to primary and preventive care to individuals in the community who have little or no health care. By providing an avenue to affordable, high-quality care – including behavioral health, physical therapy, social work, oral health and family planning – children and families will have a stable, integrative medical home to address their health care needs right in their neighborhoods.

“I am proud to partner with Novant Health to bring critical health services to underserved areas of Charlotte and the thousands of North Carolinians with limited access to health care,” said Michael Jordan. “Through my years of working with Novant Health, I have been impressed with their approach and their commitment to the community. It is my hope that these clinics will help provide a brighter and healthier future for the children and families they serve.”

Community wellness and access to affordable and quality health care are some of the biggest challenges facing our nation. According to census bureau data, more than 100,000 Charlotteans do not have health insurance. Families living in underserved communities face barriers including difficulty accessing preventive and primary and mental health services, as well as a lack of an integrative and comprehensive approach to health care. With the opening of two clinics, Novant Health and Michael Jordan will create access to high-quality health care in areas identified by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force as the most at-risk for generational poverty.

“As a longtime partner, we are thrilled that Michael Jordan continues to support Novant Health and our mission to improve the health of our communities, one person at a time,” said Carl Armato, president and CEO of Novant Health. “This gift will transform the lives of thousands of families and children living in poverty-stricken communities. We are thankful to Michael for his generosity. The gift will remove barriers to high-quality health care in some of the most vulnerable communities.”

Over five years, the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Clinics are projected to care for nearly 35,000 children and adults who do not currently have access to primary and preventive care or who use the emergency room for non-urgent medical needs.

The clinics have the potential to decrease emergency room utilization by 68 percent and decrease hospitalization by 37 percent for the residents of these neighborhoods. Resulting benefits from these clinics will include improved patient care, better community wellness, as well as a reduction in the total cost of medical care. Through the opening of these two clinics, Novant Health and Jordan are investing in the health of Charlotte and supporting the ongoing efforts of the larger community to provide access to quality, affordable health care to all Charlotteans.

Give to the Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation today!    

Hospital Patrons’ Ball raises over $200,000

SALISBURY, N.C. Sept. 15, 2017 ― The Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation hosted its 27th annual Patrons’ Ball on Saturday, Sept. 9 at the Peeler Crystal Lounge at Catawba College. Over 200 individuals attended this year’s masquerade themed event complete with cocktails, dinner, music and dancing.

 

Proceeds raised will go to support a proposed cancer center.

 

“We are grateful to the patrons of the ball for their generous contributions,” said Dari Caldwell, president of Rowan Medical Center. “Rowan Medical Center is committed to providing access to world-class cancer care right here in our community.”

 

Community members interested in contributing to the Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation can call

704-210-6880 or visit supportnovanthealth.org.

 

 

About Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation

The philanthropic efforts of Novant Health’s foundations inspire giving that supports programs and initiatives having direct patient impact. Novant Health’s network consists of more than 1,500 physicians and over 26,000 team members who provide care at over 470 locations, including 14 medical centers and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the health system cares for more than 4.4 million patients annually in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.

 

Our regional foundations focus on critical needs in five areas: infants and childrencancerheart and vascularstroke and neurosciences and research and education.

 

Through the generous support of individuals, families, companies and grant-making institutions, Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation supports Novant Health in its mission to improve the health of our communities, one person at a time.

Rachel and Charles Bernheim honored for extraordinary philanthropy by Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation

SALISBURY, N.C., June 9, 2017 – Rachel and Charles Bernheim were presented with the 2017 Wilson L. Smith Philanthropic Award by Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation. The couple graciously accepted the award during the June 8 donor appreciation and recognition dinner held at Catawba College Peeler Crystal Lounge. This award is presented annually to individuals in recognition of their exceptional philanthropy.

The Bernheim’s were presented the prestigious award to honor their extensive charitable work. With a home in New York and the family home in Salisbury, Rachel and Charles support both communities.

Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim comes from a family of generous individuals. The Oestreicher name is well known in Salisbury. Her father, Irvin Oestreicher, owned Oestreicher’s store, which remained a town landmark through the 1960s. He was a charter member of the Rowan Memorial Hospital Board of Directors from 1936 until his death more than 50 years later. A Novant Health MRI unit is named in his memory. Rachel’s mother, Bert, contributed to many hospital auxiliary projects, and together, the couple established the Oestreicher Service Awards, an important hospital employee recognition program.

In Rachel’s own work as founder and chairman of the human rights organization Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States, she continues to keep the memory alive of Raoul Wallenberg, a humanitarian who saved tens of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. Rachel’s work has taken her all over the world and earned her the Royal Swedish Order of the Polar Star, the highest award a foreigner can receive in Sweden.

Charles, a senior managing director of Bear, Stearns & Co. of New York before his retirement, also grew up in a charitable family. His parents, Leonard and Elinor Bernheim, instilled in Charles the importance of giving back and being involved in the community.

The couple joins an esteemed list of recipients including:

Mrs. Xzantippa “Tippie” Miller (2016); Dr. and Mrs. Chris Agner (2015); Mr. and Mrs. James M. Freeman (2014); Mr. and Mrs. Bill Stanback (2013); Mr. Ralph W. Ketner (2012); Mrs. Frances “Billy” H. Johnson (2011); Blanche and Julian Robertson family (2010); Miles Smith Jr. family (2009); Larry and Susan Cloninger (2008); Rowan Regional Medical Center Auxiliary (2007); Legacy Award – Mr. and Mrs. Wilson L. Smith (2006); Mr. and Mrs. Fred J. Stanback Jr.(2005); Dr. and Mrs. Dennis L. Hill (2004); Dr. and Mrs. James C. Johnson (2003); Mr. and Mrs. Paul E. Fisher (2002); Dr. and Mrs. John H. Bumgarner and Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Cook Jr.(2001); Mr. and Mrs. Gordon P. Hurley and Mrs. and Mrs. James F. Hurley III (2000); Mrs. Elizabeth C. Stanback (1999); Mr. and Mrs. Elias A. Saleeby (1998); Mrs. Evelyn F Harrison, Dr. and Mrs. Robert L. Hudson and Mr. and Mrs. Edward T. Taylor (1997); Dr. and Mrs. Wayne A. Cline Sr. and Mr. and Mrs. Arnold H. Snider Jr. (1996); Dr. and Mrs. Glenn A. Kiser, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson L. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Ronald L. Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Timothy R. Smith (1995).