As a child, Judy Feingold watched her father, a physician, act with kindness and compassion toward patients coping with devastating illness. That early experience has translated into her own compassionate support for cancer patients at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center decades later.
Ms. Feingold recalls that her father was the only pathologist within a four-county area near Buffalo, New York. By the age of eight, she was helping him at his laboratory.
She remembers the distress he expressed at home about a child he diagnosed with leukemia or a young woman with a cancerous tumor. Her early exposure to serious illness as the daughter of a physician, coupled with the loss of her sister to cancer, inspired her to become a volunteer and philanthropist for the Mass General Cancer Center.
“I felt as though I wanted to be a part of something that could somehow help,” she says.
A History of Giving
Together with her husband, Roger Feingold, Ms. Feingold has been a major supporter and volunteer for several patient-centered programs at the Mass General Cancer Center.
She was one of the first volunteer leaders to join the Friends of the Mass General Cancer Center. The Friends are volunteers who raise funds to bridge exceptional medical and supportive cancer care through innovative programs that promote whole-person healing.
She helped found The Cancer Resource Room, where patients and families could seek counsel from staff social workers, information about their disease or just relax. The Resource Room has since been transformed into the Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Support and Education Hub on the seventh floor of the Yawkey Center in an effort to bring online information services closer to patients and families.
Cancer Center Healing
The Feingolds also helped fund the creation of the Healing Garden, a 6,300- square foot rooftop garden at the Yawkey Center. It provides families and patients with a calming environment to escape the challenges of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Most recently, the Feingolds focused their philanthropy on the Cancer Center’s patient assistance program with a $25,000 contribution over five years. Their gift provides modest financial grants to individual cancer patients to lessen the burden of treatment.
David P. Ryan, MD, clinical director of the Mass General Cancer Center, and chief of its Division of Hematology and Oncology, said the patient assistance program relies on generous donors, such as the Feingolds. Such donors help relieve patients of the financial worries related to diagnosis and treatment and instead focus on getting better.
“It’s always been an important tenet of the Cancer Center that we support patients in every possible way, and that includes making sure that financial challenges don’t impede access to treatment and jeopardize outcomes.”
“It’s always been an important tenet of the Cancer Center that we support patients in every possible way, and that includes making sure that financial challenges don’t impede access to treatment and jeopardize outcomes,” he says. “This is something the Friends of the Cancer Center have always understood. It clearly resonates with Judy, who was involved with the Friends for many years.”
Aiding Those in Need
Patient assistance funding, awarded to those of limited financial means, can make a great deal of difference to people whose livelihoods and lives have been disrupted by a cancer diagnosis.
For example, in 2014 a 56-year-old woman from Marion, Mass., was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells. Unable to afford a car, she and her 84-year-old mother rose at 6 a.m. several days a week to travel by bus, train and subway to reach Mass General for chemotherapy. Once she enrolled in the patient assistance program, her transportation, food and hotel bills were covered. She is now in good health.
A Passion for People
Ms. Feingold was first inspired to help provide financial assistance for patients through her experience of visiting a close friend who had been diagnosed with cancer. She observed that some patients had traveled long distances to Boston for the quality treatment offered at Mass General, but could not afford a hotel room or sometimes even enough for a lunch.
She and her husband agreed supporting the cancer center’s patient assistance program would be a way to help people in real time, for out-of-pocket expenses and “to assist the social services department in financially supporting these families,” she explains.
At Mass General, their giving is focused on people, rather than capital investments or physical amenities, she says. “I’d much prefer any money my husband and I give be used to help cancer patients and their families.”
For more information, or to support the Mass General Cancer Center, please contact us.