Knowing the importance of early detection, Barbara Rogers has always been vigilant about getting her annual mammograms. It was during one of these regular mammograms ten years ago that an abnormality was detected. After further testing, those results determined the diagnosis no one is ready for: cancer. Under the care of Lee Schwartzberg, MD, Medical Oncologist and Executive Director of West Cancer Center, Barbara began her journey – and fight – with breast cancer.
At the time of her diagnosis, West Cancer Center had not yet expanded its facilities to Corinth, Miss. Therefore, Barbara, a Corinth resident, made the quick trip to Memphis for her treatments, often accompanied by family and friends. Her mother attended every appointment and remained a constant motivator for her, having survived her own battle with stomach cancer years before. In addition to her personal support system, Barbara found a unique companionship in the Red Apron WINGS volunteers. Often times, she felt that her family and friends were more worried, upset, and scared than she even was. Knowing the collective journey a support system ventures on when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, the WINGS volunteers not only cared for her, but they made her loved ones a priority as well, which meant the world to her. According to Barbara, this made all the difference.
Several years later – and cancer-free – Barbara found herself with more free time and a calling to give back to a place that gave so much to her. She jumped at the opportunity to become the very first WINGS volunteer at the new location in her hometown of Corinth. “In my role as a WINGS volunteer, sometimes the most important thing I can do is sit, hold a patient’s hand, and listen,” said Barbara. “Together, you can make it through anything. Keep those close binds and cling together because you can make it through.”
In an effort to provide patients in Corinth with the most compassionate and comprehensive support, Barbara began a steadfast mission to raise the necessary funds to erect a bell outside the infusion area that patients can ring after completing their treatment journey. The bell, which has long-symbolized the completion of treatment and survivorship at West Cancer Center, resonates with Barbara as she recalls her own cancer journey – ringing the survivor bell at her treatment location and marking the end of her fight with this disease. For her, the bell is two-fold: a celebration of victory for a survivor, and a symbol of hope to those watching from the infusion windows. With the help of Barbara, staff, and the generosity of the Corinth community, this vision has become a reality. This spring, a bell will be erected in the garden area outside the windows of infusion. The bell itself has been donated, and a metal fabricator has donated their time to build the supporting structure.
“It’s been an honor to support efforts to bring a ceremonial bell to our Corinth location,” said Barbara. “My hope is that it will bring joy – and hope – to our patients for many years to come.”