Turning Grief into Good

Grateful Patient Gift Will Help Others Receive High-Quality Cancer Care in Brevard

Tina knew her husband, Michael, was “the one” by their second date. 

Coincidentally, that day marked one year since his mom had passed, and Michael didn’t shy away from sharing his fond memories of her with Tina. 

“Hearing the way he talked about his mom sealed it,” the Satellite Beach woman recalled with a smile. She knew. Just as she knew after her beloved husband died at the age of 55 of Stage 3 multiple myeloma in 2012 that she needed to do something – not only to help her grieving heart heal but to provide the quality care right here in Brevard that others so desperately need and deserve.

So, in addition to her annual support, she decided to make arrangements in her will for a major gift to the Health First Cancer Institute. Tina, who serves on the Health First Foundation’s Board of Trustees, feels passionately about giving back to Health First, which offers programs dedicated to improving the wellness and health of Brevard County residents. 

“Including Health First in your will or trust is a simple way to have a very real and long-range impact on local cancer care for future generations,” said Tina.  “If my gift helps at least one person receive the cancer care and support they need without having to leave the familiarity of home, my life will be complete.”

Tina will always be grateful to Health First, whose physicians diagnosed Michael with multiple myeloma in January 2009 during an emergency visit to Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center. 

With the diagnosis, “life instantly changed,” she said, with continuous doctor visits and treatments becoming the norm. They married in June 2009, just six months after his diagnosis.

For his rare form of cancer, Michael initially sought treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, then at the Myeloma Center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock – all while closely coordinating care with Health First Cancer Institute physician Dr. Joseph McClure. While at Moffitt, a series of stem-cell transplants seemed to work temporarily. 

But the cancer came back, and eventually Michael chose to forgo any further treatments. The two returned to Brevard, where Michael died in January 2012. Tina was with him when he passed, as well as Dr. McClure.

After Michael’s death, Tina sought bereavement help through Hospice of Health First. Her counselor urged her to get involved with the Health First Foundation that was raising funds for hospice at the time. 

She hasn’t stopped since. 

“There’s so much opportunity for all of us to be involved and active in making a positive impact on local health care,” Tina said. “I am so grateful for the support and professional guidance from everyone at Health First, who helped me heal and turn my grief into good.”

To learn more about making a gift through your will or estate plan, contact Jeanene Donilon, Foundation Director, at the Health First Foundation at 321.434.7386 or 321.434.7353.

The need for cancer care in Brevard

In one year,

  • More than 65,000 established patients are treated
  • 5,000 new patients are evaluated
  • Approximately 35,000 patients receive infusion treatments
  • More than 28,000 patients undergo radiation treatments
  • Nearly 800 patients receive a lung cancer screening
  • More than 30,000 breast cancer screenings are performed

Gifts to the Health First Cancer Institute allow us to continue important work in the ever-changing scope of cancer care, serving the thousands of patients, and their families, who enter our facilities.