Patient Honors Parents

Patient Finds Unique Way to Honor Parents and Help Marie Yeager Cancer Center  

kurt schneseWhen Kurt Schnese returned to his native southwest Michigan to care for his ailing father three years ago, he was pleasantly surprised to see how far his hometown health system had come. Through his career in architecture and design, Kurt had been involved with major healthcare projects all over the country – and the Marie Yeager Cancer Center in St. Joseph compared favorably to the best of them.

“I’ve expressed to people how fortunate we are to have a world-class cancer center, just like what a lot of the big cities are doing,” Kurt said. “It’s something that we should all be extremely proud of, and happy we have here.”

Kurt’s father, Frank, lost his battle with blood disease, but the family will never forget the care he received from Edmund Paloyan, MD, Medical Director of Oncology Services at Lakeland Health, and the entire cancer center team.

“Dad was treated with amazing respect and care at the cancer center,” Kurt said. “When I am there, the nurses all remember dad, and we sit and talk about what a great person he was.”

After his father’s experience, Kurt had no hesitation trusting the Marie Yeager Cancer Center when he was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma in August 2014. Kurt completed six months of chemotherapy in June 2015, and credits his positive attitude with helping him make the best of the situation.

“You appreciate the little things a bit more, like when I come home to my dog, Benjamin, after a long day,” Kurt said. “The experience has made me understand what’s really important.”

With that perspective, Kurt began thinking about how he could give back to the cancer center, and how he could honor the philanthropic legacy of his parents, Frank and Sally. Kurt recalled that when his mother had a stroke in 1983, his father began donating his time as a Lakeland volunteer to express his gratitude to the hospital.

“I had a good example in my upbringing,” Kurt said. “My parents were always thinking about giving back to other people.”

With the help of friend, Robin Zollar, who’s involved with estate sales, Kurt came up with a plan to make the most of the art, furniture, and antiques he had collected over his lifetime. Instead of leaving a monetary gift to the Marie Yeager Cancer in his will, he arranged for his most valuable belongings to be sold at a special event.

“When Kurt came to us with this idea, we thought it was a very thoughtful way to help the cancer center, and would help raise a lot of awareness in the community,” said David Burghart, Vice President of Philanthropy and President of Lakeland Health Foundations. “Every donation can make a huge impact on the care Lakeland provides for our friends and neighbors.”

See Kurt's Story

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