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The Power of Gratitude

A gift one family made out of gratitude for excellent patient care has led to even better care for patients and families at the Cancer Care Clinic at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.

Kacey Hampton and father, Greg Hampton

Greg Hampton was a caring, outgoing man with a zest for life. As an entrepreneur, he traveled frequently and made friends everywhere he went. Yet he found time to volunteer to teach teens and young adults math and literacy to better prepare them for life. Greg also shared his love for skiing with his son, Kacey. The inseparable pair mastered the slopes together and had many other cross-country adventures.

When Kacey graduated from Webster University in St. Louis in May 2011, he was excited to begin his career and plan for more ski trips with Greg. But Greg’s plans took an unfortunate turn. A month after Kacey’s graduation, Greg started chemotherapy near his home in Colorado to treat an aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia.

“I was devastated,” Kacey says. “This was the man who adopted me and showed me the world. We were very close.”

Greg had hoped to have a bone marrow transplant but his doctor told him the cancer was too aggressive and it wasn’t worth trying.

One Move Makes All the Difference

So Greg stopped chemotherapy and moved to St. Louis to be close to Kacey in his final months. Greg’s brother, Joel, who had lost his wife to breast cancer just a year before, moved from Ohio to help take care of Greg.

One day, Greg was in so much pain that Joel took him to Siteman Cancer Center to find relief.

A Siteman doctor persuaded Greg try chemotherapy again with hopes for a bone marrow transplant. Joel was a perfect bone marrow donor match. “Stepping into Siteman led my dad to change his mind about treatment and to keep fighting,” Kacey says. “That decision gave him an additional six months to live his life.”

Another factor in Greg’s decision to continue his fight was the level of expertise Siteman has in treating leukemia.

Siteman’s adult bone marrow and stem cell transplant program is one of the largest in the world. The National Cancer Institute considers Siteman to have “the preeminent leukemia center in the country.” Siteman also has the leading cancer genomics program in the country, with expertise in understanding the genes that cause leukemia.

Greg had chemotherapy and eventually a bone marrow transplant at Siteman in December 2011. “By February, he was living on his own again and felt strong,” Kacey recalls. “Unfortunately, during one week in March, he took a sudden turn and passed away at age 65. If he had never gone to Siteman, he would not have had those extra months with us. Siteman gave him hope and extended his life.”

Kacey and his family are grateful to Siteman for the care and compassion Greg received. “The nurses and doctors at Siteman were absolutely amazing,” Kacey says. “We all felt a personal connection to the Siteman team. Everyone was very professional and we felt comfortable knowing my father was being well taken care of.”

Giving Back to Transform Care

Because of the kindness and expertise of the Siteman team, the Hampton family members wanted to find a way to express their gratitude.

When they learned Siteman’s Cancer Care Clinic needed support to make it more family-friendly, they didn’t hesitate to join together to make a family gift. “It’s a Hampton family trait to give back to help people,” Kacey says.

Before Greg died, he established the Greg Hampton Foundation as a way to continue his legacy of helping others. Greg wanted Kacey—who was 20 at the time—to lead the foundation with guidance from Kacey’s Uncle Joel and his pastor. Greg left Kacey the ultimate gift: to understand the value of giving back to enhance people’s lives.

“My father gave me the incredible responsibility of giving back to the community and changing a lot of lives,” Kacey says. “Our foundation’s goal is to make sustainable changes that help people. We realized this gift to Siteman’s Cancer Care Clinic has the ability to transform care. It has a long-term impact.”

The Hampton’s foundation gift was designed to improve the patient and family experience in the Cancer Care Clinic. Their gift supported renovations to the clinic’s space to create a quiet, calming space for family members to wait, while also improving the work flow area to better serve patients and families.

Meeting Special Needs for Patients

The Cancer Care Clinic, which opened in 2009, provides services to cancer patients who have urgent needs. Sometimes this specialized care is needed over a weekend or in the middle of the night so the clinic is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s staffed by Siteman team members who are experts in caring for cancer patients’ unique needs.

“Cancer patients have special needs, plus their immune systems are often suppressed so they don’t belong in an emergency department,” explains the clinic’s manager, Sharon Monical, RN. “Our Cancer Care Clinic is one of only a handful in the country designed to provide urgent care for cancer patients this way.”

Patients also come to the clinic for scheduled infusion treatments of chemotherapy, fluids, antibiotics, blood transfusions, or other care.

“We’re always growing and trying to improve,” Sharon says. “The Hampton’s generous gift allowed us to remodel our clinic to better serve both the patient and the family. Families are the one constant in people’s changing lives. They offer a healing presence and a voice for the patient so it’s important they can come to the clinic with the patient and be comfortable.”

Gratitude Inspires…

The Hampton gift has had ripple effects.

“This gift inspired all of us and led to several process improvements as we took a fresh look at the patient’s total experience,” Sharon says. “We’ve created a calmer, more spa-like atmosphere for patients. We want them to have a place to come where they feel safe, comforted, and cared for. Sometimes the physical needs are not always the biggest needs—often it’s the emotional needs. And we’re here to meet those needs, too.”

The clinic’s improvements have resulted in increased patient satisfaction scores. “That tells us our patients and families are more comfortable and feel better about the care they’re receiving,” Sharon says. “We’re establishing best practices in cancer services to better help all our patients and families.”

She continues: “Donors can make an enormous impact on patient care. Words can’t express our gratitude to the Hampton family. The difference one act of kindness can make is profound. If you touch the life of one person, you can touch thousands.”

Kacey and his family are happy to see the long-term impact of their gift.

“Seeing how our gift transformed care and the patient experience was awesome,” he says. “It’s amazing how small changes in an environment can improve patient care and lead to even more changes.”

And it all started with gratitude.

“I loved my father a lot and a great deal of other people also loved and appreciated having him walk through their lives,” Kacey says. “Our gift to Siteman is a thank you from our family for having Siteman walk through our lives. They extended my dad’s life so we could enjoy more time together.”

He continues: “I’ve learned how a relatively small donation can empower people and change lives. And it doesn’t take much to make such a difference.”

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