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Duke Cancer Patient is a 'Light of Hope' and is Honored for Her Dedication

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. -- Each year during the holiday season, visitors to Duke Clinics are greeted by hundreds of glimmering lights just outside the Morris Cancer Clinic. The lights decorate the Nancy Weaver Emerson Tree of Hope. Purchased by family members and friends, these lights honor and memorialize loves ones who have been touched by cancer.

The Tree of Hope is a fund-raiser for the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program, which provides services and support to patients at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center and in the community who are battling cancer. Last year, more than $44,500 was raised from the event.

This year, the 13th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15, in the new Seese-Thornton Garden of Tranquility, located adjacent to the Morris Cancer Clinic.

At the top of the tree sits a Light of Hope, which is dedicated each year to an individual who has made a special contribution to the Cancer Patient Support Program. This year's recipient is Susan Moonan of Raleigh.

"Susan is such a vital part of the Patient Support Program," said Rachel Schanberg, founder and director of the program. "She is an inspiration to all of us and a constant reminder of how to continually set the bar higher in our quest to be the best patient advocates possible."

First diagnosed with cancer in 1979, Moonan has undergone numerous surgeries and treatments during the past 24 years, including an amputation of her arm and shoulder. A mother of three and grandmother of six, Moonan continues to fight cancer while offering other patients comfort, understanding and wisdom, said Rachel Schanberg, founder and director of the program.

Moonan first joined the Patient Support Program as a volunteer in 1996, and then was hired as the volunteer coordinator in 1997. She has continued to be a passionate member of the Patient Support Program and has received the Jefferson Award for outstanding volunteer service, and was recognized as a "Patient Champion" at Duke for her commitment to patients.

"Susan is such a vital part of the Patient Support Program," Schanberg said. "She is an inspiration to all of us and a constant reminder of how to continually set the bar higher in our quest to be the best patient advocates possible."

Said Moonan, "Cancer – I'm living it, so I know how much support means. It's an awesome privilege for people to allow you to be a part of their life during such a challenging time. No matter how much I put into my interaction with the patients and their families, I get so much more out."

Moonan also praises the Duke staff. "When patients leave here, they know that the best doctors and nurses have cared for them. The work of all of the wonderful volunteers at the Patient Support Program enables patients to leave knowing that someone here cared about them. I am honored to accept the Light of Hope Award on behalf of all of the support program volunteers."

The Tree of Hope is named in honor of Nancy Weaver Emerson, a former cancer patient and support program volunteer, and former director of major projects and assistant director of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center's office of development and communications, who died earlier this year. Lights can be purchased for $10 each or three for $25. Anyone who purchases a light will receive an invitation to the lighting ceremony. The names of those honored and memorialized with a light will be included in the Book of Honor, which is on display in the Morris Cancer Clinic.

To donate or to obtain more information about the event, visit http://www.dukecancerinstitute.org or call (919) 684-8760.

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About the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program
The Duke Cancer Patient Support Program (DCPSP), part of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been providing support to patients and families coping with cancer since its inception in 1987. Each year, the DCPSP provides more than 3,600 hours of counseling support to patients and families; almost 300 hours of support groups; distributes more than 500 wigs and turbans; and interacts with patients and families in 70,000 contacts. All services are provided free. The program offers continued support from the time of diagnosis through treatment, recovery and survival, and also through the circumstances surrounding end of life.

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