Hope in nutrition

Thomasville program delivers supplements to cancer patients

When Catherine Davis was diagnosed with throat cancer in June 2019, she didn’t know what to expect. But she found a wonderful team of doctors to lead her through her cancer journey.   

Because the cancer was in her throat, Davis learned she would not be able to swallow during and after treatment. The treatment affects the patient’s ability to eat, so a feeding tube is inserted to facilitate meeting nutritional needs.

“It was a big change, having to eat through a tube,” Davis said. “I wasn’t sure how I would get enough food.” 

She’s not alone. Many cancer patients find themselves in similar situations, without the energy or the ability to eat. For these patients, nutritional supplements, such as Ensure and Boost, are a necessary lifeline, but not all cancer patients can afford them.  

In 2013, Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center created the oncology nutritional supplement program to provide cancer patients with access to six-month supplies of nutritional supplements.

The program, managed by Cancer Services of Davidson County and funded by generous donations to Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center Foundation, has distributed over 16,000 cases of nutritional supplements in the last seven years, including to Davis. To qualify for the program, patients below a certain income level and in active treatment receive six-month supplies, and extensions are available on a case-by-case basis with a physician’s note.

“Our average patient who walks in the door is usually retired,” said Ray Howell, executive director of Cancer Services of Davidson County. “Their only income is Social Security, and all of a sudden, they get a cancer diagnosis. Not only are they in a health crisis; they are now in a financial crisis, too.”

For instance, Davis’ income provides just enough money each month to cover her rent, utilities, copays and medicine. In addition, she still needs a six-pack of supplemental food a day, which has a retail price of around $10 per day. The dollars raised for this program provided Davis with the supplements she needed, beginning at the start of her treatment in the fall of 2019.

“Without the supplements, I wouldn’t have the energy I needed to fight the cancer,” Davis said. “Now I’m able to get up and walk around and actually do things. It’s become a very big part of my life.”

The program is available to Thomasville and the surrounding communities. It currently has 22 patients on the roster, many of whom receive deliveries right to their door.

“I know this program is making a direct impact on people in Davidson County, and it’s adding to their chance of having a successful battle against cancer,” Howell said. “This is something our community and Novant Health should be very proud of for the impact they are making.”

Because Novant Health is able to purchase in bulk, the program is able to keep costs down, both for donors and for patients. A $200 donation today can provide supplements for 25 people fighting cancer for an entire month.

As for Davis, today she is cancer-free. She’s learning to swallow again and slowly introducing food back into her diet. Her supplements will continue to help her transition. She considers herself blessed.

“Without this program, I wouldn’t have been able to get the nutrition I needed to maintain my health, and now I’m very healthy,” Davis said.

You, too, can help provide nutrition to cancer patients in Thomasville and nearby communities.

With a gift to Novant Health Foundation, you can help us purchase nutritional supplements for those in need. Join us, and make your gift today.

Donate now