When Donna was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer, she learned about Provision CARES Proton Therapy. In addition to receiving one of the world’s most advanced cancer treatments, she also discovered a Culture of Care she says is unlike any other medical facility she ever set foot in.
Throughout her life, Donna was always the one taking care of others. She cared for her husband, who has had numerous heart attacks. She took care of her mother, who suffered a stroke. But suddenly, she found herself facing a diagnosis of her own – breast cancer. And just eight months after undergoing a lumpectomy, it came back with a vengeance, invading both breasts plus her lymph nodes.
“I was never sick before that,” Donna remembered.
From that point on, life was complicated in other ways, too. She was going through a divorce, did not have reliable housing, and was her mother’s only caregiver. Donna had to juggle all of this while facing additional surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment for what was now a stage 4 disease.
Donna connected with Provision through a friend, whose niece worked as a Care Coordinator at the proton center. She says the phone call she received from that Care Coordinator helped her sort through issues that had been keeping her from the tests and care she needed to arrange. Provision even arranged appointments on her behalf to meet with a radiation oncologist and other specialists as quickly as possible.
“Every day, for weeks, somebody called me from that facility,” said Donna. “Do you know how impressive that is? And the kindness. They were so sincere. I hadn’t even told them I was going to go there.”
Through the process, the Provision team learned that Donna was living in a 24-foot motorhome without running water. Donna’s care team suggested she allow them to sign her up for the Caring Plate, a service of the Provision CARES Foundation. In partnership with the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee, the foundation provides daily, healthy meals for cancer patients and their families living in East Tennessee.
At first Donna dismissed the suggestion, saying, “I don’t want to take it away from somebody else. They were already helping me so much.”
Eventually, her illness progressed and she agreed to accept the help.
“Sometimes I was just too sick, lying in my camper, I couldn’t even unlatch the door to say, ‘Thank you,’” Donna recalled. “If I wasn’t able to fill out the menu, they would call to take my order over the phone. There were a couple of days I couldn’t get the frozen packs out into the cooler. They would call and say, ‘We wanted to make sure you’re ok.’”
One day, after learning about the lack of access to running water in her home, a Caring Plate volunteer brought her several cases of water. On another occasion, Donna came home from an appointment to find a bouquet of flowers on her cooler, courtesy of Random Acts of Flowers, which also partners with the Provision CARES Foundation.
“They were a lifesaver. I wouldn’t have had meals if it wasn’t for them,” she said. “They saw what I needed more than I did. I’ve never been treated like this in any facility I’ve ever been to.”
Provision CARES Foundation and its signature program, The Caring Plate, were designed to help patients just like Donna. A cancer diagnosis affects every aspect of a patient’s life, and the foundation is here to help make that journey a little easier.