The Walker Cancer Survivors
As we journey through life, we sometimes have the privilege of meeting someone who has encountered what, for many of us, would be insurmountable odds, survived, and used those experiences to help others. Suzanne Walker is one of these courageous souls.
In 1990, Suzanne was diagnosed with cancer. It was important to her to be treated in her own community, where she felt most at home, rather than in Indianapolis. The staff at Hancock Memorial Hospital (now Hancock Regional Hospital) provided excellent care, even though providing the treatments necessary was relatively new to them at that time.
Through her experience, Suzanne identified an opportunity to help others. She felt that cancer patients could use more peer support to accept their diagnosis and get through the mental and physical anguish of treatment. An idea formed and a dream was fulfilled when, with the help of a great nurse, a dear friend, and $1,000, Suzanne created the Walker Foundation.
The Walker Foundation worked with the hospital to provide a room for monthly meetings for patients and family members. Those attending the meetings were privy to special speakers, uplifting music and tapes, and, most importantly, a time of fellowship where they could listen, support, guide and help one another.
The Walker Foundation provided supplies for patients who could not afford things like Ostomy supplies, wigs, and mammograms, and each year has sponsored Relay for Life so cancer survivors have a team.
One of the most touching and appreciated gifts that the Walker Foundation provided to cancer patients is stuffed bears. The bears were purchased by Suzanne, identified with a special necklace made by Suzanne’s son, and distributed to patients through the Hancock Regional Cancer Clinic. Suzanne and her Foundation Board have received many special notes and cards sharing how much comfort the bears have brought to those undergoing treatment.
How have Suzanne, friends, and supporters managed to support all these wonderful activities? Through lots of work and the generosity of a caring community! In the early years, the Walker Foundation had dances to raise needed funds; later, the Board began issuing annual appeal letters.
So why did Suzanne and her Board decide to create an endowment at the Hancock County Community Foundation? “I wanted the work of the Walker Foundation to continue after I was gone and knew an endowment at the Community Foundation would ensure that the efforts to help others would continue after my lifetime. I had heard good things about the Community Foundation from people I know that have created funds and made gifts to them, so I felt very comfortable that a fund to benefits cancer Survivors my wishes would be honored,” Suzanne shares.
She continues, “No one knows when this disease will touch you or someone you love, and you never know the special help you will need. I invite others to contribute to this endowment….to do so is to help others in need.” This past December, Suzanne and her Board created the Walker Cancer Survivors Endowment Fund. The 2007 annual appeal letter included a request to grow the fund, and gifts contributed totaled more than $1,450.
“This community has been very good to me and very supportive through two bouts of cancer and a very serious accident. It’s my desire to give back to this community during my lifetime and, thanks to the endowment, beyond my lifetime and for generations to come,” Suzanne says.