Stoneybrook-Related Runs to Benefit Cancer CARE Fund
Dr. Ted Graham was a 43-year-old emergency room physician with an active young family when cancer came at him from "out of the blue."
Specialists used CTs, MRIs and biopsies to check the lump on the side of his neck, but every test indicated that it was a simple cyst. When the lump returned after draining and a round of antibiotics, Graham's ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr. Wyman McGuirt, of Pinehurst Surgical, said it should come out.
A disturbing diagnosis, with the need for more surgery, came a few days later during a late-evening telephone call from McGuirt.
"He told me I had cancer," Dr. Graham recalls. "I couldn't even hear him."
Graham is a partner in Sandhills Emergency Physicians, the practice that provides physician coverage for all three FirstHealth of the Carolinas hospitals. It is also the main sponsor for the Run for the Ribbons 5K and Family Fun 1K that will be part of the April 3 Stoneybrook Steeplechase at the Carolina Horse Park in Hoke County.
The Run for the Ribbons run and walk will highlight a host of family-oriented activities that the Stoneybrook committee will offer for the first time this year in addition to the traditional thoroughbred horse race. Proceeds will benefit the Cancer CARE Fund of the Moore Regional Hospital Foundation.
Expect to see Graham among the Run for the Ribbons participants.
"I suspect I will be there with bells on," he says.
Doreen Schlicht, who works in FirstHealth's corporate finance department as director of treasury services, also plans to be at the Carolina Horse Park that day. So does cancer survivor and horsewoman Nanci Lindroth.
Schlicht is treasurer of the Carolina Horse Park, a nonprofit foundation that supports equine events and open-space conservancy and also sponsors the annual Stoneybrook event.
"The Stoneybrook Steeplechase has a long history in this area," she says. "We've wanted to broaden the appeal of the event by partnering with a charity. At the same time, we wanted to add things to the day other than the race. We hope this event will broaden interest in the Horse Park as well as have benefits for the Cancer CARE Fund."
Lindroth is a veteran rider, trainer, judge and breeder who competed on the American equestrian team in the 1987 Pan-American Games. She became involved with Relay for Life after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998, and was surprised to learn that the popular fundraiser didn't involve any Horse Country teams. With her encouragement, that soon changed.
"We were the top fundraiser," Lindroth says of her team's first Relay for Life experience.
Lindroth describes the Sandhills "horse community" as a "real community within itself," and expects it will be just as supportive of the Run for the Ribbons Cancer CARE Fund fundraiser.
"I'm always trying to help in any way that I can," she says. "In any way that I can help, I'm happy to."
The Cancer CARE Fund helps local cancer patients with medication, wigs, prostheses, transportation and other needs associated with their treatment. Unlike the proceeds from many other cancer charities, all of the money raised by the Cancer CARE Fund remains local to support people who live in FirstHealth communities.
As coordinator of CARE-Net, a program developed and funded by the Cancer CARE Fund to pair cancer patients with specially trained volunteers, Kathy Milewski often sees needs that the Cancer CARE Fund can help meet. She is also a cancer survivor who can identify with the one-on-one emotional and practical support that CARE-Net volunteers provide.
"I've been in that (chemotherapy) chair, and I know how patients feel," she says. "I know that anxiety of starting things. When I visit with patients, I pick up if they would like to talk to someone who has been through treatment."
Graham benefited from having a CARE-Net volunteer. His was a cancer survivor who was right on the money with the information and timeline he shared with Dr. Graham about chemotherapy, radiation and recovery. Later on, as a CARE-Net volunteer himself, Dr. Graham was able to share the same information and the same encouragement with another cancer patient.
As fate would have it, Graham's first volunteer experience involved a patient he met in the Emergency Department at Moore Regional Hospital after he returned to work following his medical leave - a man with the very same diagnosis (metastatic, poorly differentiated squamous cell cancer of the tonsil) and treatment regimen as his own.
"It was one of those incidences of life that can't be incidental," he says.
What began for Graham and the patient as a doctor-patient encounter continued as a CARE-Net volunteer-patient relationship.
"He was the perfect example of a guy who needed CARE-Net," he says.
According to Graham, the Run for the Ribbons fundraiser is the latest in a history of charitable endeavors for the Sandhills Emergency Physicians practice. It's also one that has a special meaning for the group.
Several of the physicians in the practice have family members who also have been touched by cancer. One is Kathy Milewski, whose husband, Dr. Ron Milewski, is a partner in the practice.
"Charity begins at home," Graham says of the fundraiser, "and there's more than enough need in Moore, Richmond, Hoke and Montgomery counties that's not being met. With the Cancer CARE Fund, the money goes to people who need it."
The Run for the Ribbons 5K and Family Fun 1K will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 3, at the Carolina Horse Park at Five Points, 2814 Montrose Road, in Hoke County, kicking off a day of cancer awareness, survivor celebration and horse racing at the 59th Stoneybrook Steeplechase.
All 5K and 1K participants will receive a general admission ticket to the Steeplechase.
For more details on the Run for the Ribbons event, visit www.RunfortheRibbons5K.com. Online registration is available at www.active.com.
Additional family-related activities will include a demonstration by the Golden Knights U.S. Army Parachute Team, a petting zoo, a climbing wall and an Easter egg hunt. For more information on the Stoneybrook Steeplechase, visit www.carolinahorsepark.com/stoneybrook.
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