Paddle raises money for DKH Cancer Center

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Mon., Jun. 10, 2013
(L to r) Magenta Sanardi, Stacey Collins, Crista Disano, Colleen Hussey and Katie Lavall turned out for the event. Photos by D. Coffey.
(L to r) Magenta Sanardi, Stacey Collins, Crista Disano, Colleen Hussey and Katie Lavall turned out for the event. Photos by D. Coffey.

There are close to 4,000 patient visits a year at Day Kimball Hospital's Cancer Center, according to Director Trish Holland Caprera. While that number includes repeat patient visits, it also reflects the very real need for localized state-of-the-art care in northeastern Connecticut.

Lance Collins lost six relatives to cancer. One uncle was in his late 30s when he died. Another was in his early 40s. Both men left behind three children. The loss so affected Collins that he began an annual event to raise money for local residents receiving care at Day Kimball Hospital. He called it “Paddle for a Cure.”

On June 8, the third annual paddle was held at Lake Quinebaug in Killingly. More than 85 paddlers took part and $9,100 was raised. That money will stay local, according to Collins.

In its first two years, the paddle raised almost $14,000 for DKH. Collins has kept the focus local and on what helps the patients as well as the nurses taking care of them. Last year the money was used to purchase vital sign monitors that chemotherapy patients are connected to for the duration of their treatments.

Director of Events and Development Pat Hedenberg said Collins' donations have been a boon to the patients. “You can sit a long time in those treatment chairs,” she said. “Nurses used to have to move the monitors from one patient to another. Now we don't have to rotate. They have been a big help.”

Collins and family members taking part in the purchasing decisions are reviewing their options. Hedenberg said the hospital gives suggestions about their needs, but the final decision is up to Collins. Two of those options include infusion pumps for chemotherapy patients and special wall diagnostic units. “Whatever they like is fine with us,” Hedenberg said.

Localized cancer care centers are important for several reasons, according to Holland Caprera. They allow patients to stay close to home when receiving treatment. It's easier for patients to get treatment locally and it's where most of our family and support systems are, she said. “You can be in a caring environment with your family and friends around. Treatment, palliative, hospice and survivorship care are here,” she said. “It's truly a blessing.” 

Collins's mother Rebecca said the paddle event has been good for her son as well as the patients. “Losing his uncle really affected him,” she said. “One uncle was in the hospital at Christmas and the staff knew he was struggling. They wanted to help the kids. They said, 'Don't worry about your family. Let us help you in some way.'”  Collins is returning the favor in part.

Morgan Lefebvre took his 9-and-a-half-foot Otter to the lake for the paddle. He'd lost a great aunt to cancer years ago. He paddled the lake twice in her memory.

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