Patients, families and volunteers with Wake Forest Baptist Medical
Center’s Cancer Patient Support Program have become accustomed to
Hermine Heller’s signature gift: pound cakes.
bring them in on Thursday mornings, and they’re usually gone by 11 o’clock,”
said Heller, a longtime resident of Reidsville, North Carolina. Until health
concerns affected her schedule recently, she was one of about 30 regular
volunteers with the program, which ministers to the social and psychological
needs of patients and their families as they face the daily challenges of
program provides counseling, patient education, support groups and other
services to the community free of charge at Wake Forest
Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. It has been offered at the
Medical Center since 1980 and has been recognized by the National Cancer Policy
Board as a best practices model for cancer centers nationwide.
honor of the program’s contributions to the community, Winston-Salem Mayor
Allen Joines issued a proclamation designating Wednesday, Jan. 20, as Cancer
Patient Support Program Day in the city.
was inspired to volunteer because of the cancer experience of her husband
Douglas Powell. He lived for more than six years with chronic lymphocytic
leukemia and credited Bayard Powell,
M.D. (no relation to Douglas Powell), for providing excellent care.
of the doctors and nurses we worked with were wonderful, and the volunteers we
met really meant a lot to us,” she said. “They answered all of our questions
and made sure we were comfortable.”
2007, near the end of Douglas Powell’s life, the couple talked about how they
could repay the kindness they had experienced.
that point, he knew he would never be able to give back,” she said. “I wanted
to give back something for everything we had received. Before he died, we
talked about me becoming a volunteer.”
months after Douglas Powell’s death, Heller began volunteer work with the
program. Because she had started bringing in pound cakes for him during his
illness, she simply continued sharing them on Thursdays, her regular day to
contributes more than food. Program volunteers talk with and listen to patients
and their families as they share the emotions, fears and concerns common to
those dealing with cancer.
story represents a common thread in our volunteers,” said Program Director Richard
McQuellon, Ph.D. “Most of them have chosen to give back to this
Medical Center because of something they have received from it, directly or
indirectly, for themselves or for those they care for.”
For Heller, the cakes are part of what she calls her
ministry, feeding people spiritually and physically who rely on the program and
my way of giving patients and families hope, friendship and love,” she said.
support for the program is provided in part by Winterlark, an annual
fundraising event scheduled this year for Saturday, Feb. 6. Since its inception
in 1983, Winterlark has raised more than $5.3 million for the program.