Why I’m Involved: Jane’s Story
Jane Stone is in Community Affairs at Highmark and a board member of the Cancer Support Community.
“My dad was raised in Glasgow, Scotland, and played goal for the Scottish National Team (that’s soccer) in the ’50s and ’60s,” says Jane Stone, Cancer Support Community board member. “When he moved to the U.S., he continued to play soccer semi-professionally in New Jersey, and eventually coached the under-14 kids in our community. He began a very successful plumbing business, working seven days a week until his diagnosis. He was always a very active and hardworking man.
“In the mid-90s, after many doctors’ visits and tests for what we were told was bronchitis, he was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer. The doctors gave us the usual ‘He has about six months to live’ lecture. My mom continued to work full-time while caring for my dad, taking her lunch breaks to run home and check on him, prepare his lunch, and administer his meds.
“My siblings and I, whenever possible, would come home and assist, although my sister lived out of town, my brother traveled a lot for work, and I was married with a small child. It was a very difficult and exhausting time, particularly for my mom. But it was also tough for my dad since he had been so healthy and active his whole life. My father—the strong, stubborn type that he was—lived for nearly two years before succumbing in June 1998.
“Several years passed, and in 2003, when I was working for Highmark, I ran into a high school friend who owned a carpet and flooring business. She told me she was donating carpeting and flooring to renovate a building for a new organization called The Wellness Community. Given my role at Highmark and her knowledge of my father (she was on one of his soccer teams), she thought I should learn more about the organization.
“I was introduced to one of the organization’s founding members, and one evening, toured the building to learn more. The Wellness Community [the original name] was going to be the place for people to go to when they need to find hope and solace amid their cancer diagnosis. I learned about the various programs they would offer: yoga, T’ai Chi, book clubs, coffee circles, and general support groups for the patients and their loved ones.
“As I listened, I couldn’t help but think about my own experience with dad. One of the most painful parts of the entire ordeal for me was knowing that he was stuck at home and, later on, laid in bed every day, all day, with nothing to do but think. Think about his life, what he may have done right, what he did wrong, what he would have changed if he could. Eventually, as he deteriorated, think about why he got cancer and the fact that he couldn’t do anything about it.
“I knew right then that I wanted to be involved with this organization to try and help in whatever way I could so that no one else would have to go through the same painful ordeal. If there were a Cancer Support Community in our town, mom would have had more resources to help her deal with the diagnosis and care and dad would have had a place where he could go to find hope and comfort.”