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Pardee Foundation honors 2014 'Women of Hope'

Lynn Sealander Jones, left, and Pam Kessaris, right, and Pat Haire were honored as the 2014 Women of Hope. Lynn Sealander Jones, left, and Pam Kessaris, right, and Pat Haire were honored as the 2014 Women of Hope.

FLAT ROCK — Three women who demonstrated this year's theme of strength, courage and hope in overcoming life-threatening cancer challenges were recognized Thursday night by the Pardee Hospital Foundation as 2014 Women of Hope during a dinner Thursday at Kenmure Country Club.

Pat Haire, Lynn Sealander Jones and Pam Kessaris were honored on Thursday and will be honored again at the annual Women Helping Women luncheon on Friday at Kenmure Country Club.

The stories of the strength of the women in overcoming adversity and of Jackie Austin, who received help from the foundation after nearly dying of an infection she picked up from farm animals in Italy, presented a dramatic and personal tableau.

"If this didn't touch your heart," Pardee Foundation Chair Bob Heilman said, "make an appointment to see your doctor."

Woman of Hope Pat Haire fought two bouts of ovarian and uterine cancer. After multiple surgeries and extensive rounds of radiation, she remained positive and active and became an inspiration to others. As of January 2014, Pat has been cancer-free for three years.
Lynn Sealander Jones is a registered nurse who has spent her entire nursing career caring for cancer patients. In 2012, she was in an automobile accident that led to the discovery of cancer in her right arm. She quickly went from administering direct care to her patients to undergoing radical surgery to remove and replace the bones in her arm. Today, she can no longer work as a cancer nurse; however she still finds a way to help others with her work in cancer research. According to Jones, she lives her passion and has much to celebrate now and in the future.
Pam Kessaris' life changed forever after being hit by a drunk driver and trapped inside a burning vehicle in Lake Charles, La. She underwent years of physical therapy and has had more than 20 reconstructive surgeries. Today, Pam is thriving and has become an inspiration to other burn victims.

IMG 4050Pat Haire accepts the Women Helping Women Award at the Pardee Foundation's annual dinner."These three women exemplify strength, courage, and hope," Pardee Hospital Foundation Executive Director Kimerly Hinkelman said in a news release. "Their stories have inspired and encouraged us and it is an incredible feeling to be able to honor them and to celebrate their survivorship."

Austin was featured in a video that depicted her long battle with a mystery illness that left her depressed and broke. A friend hooked her up with Women Helping Women, which connected her to Dr. Jim Caserio, who correctly diagnosed her disease.

"I had to use my voice  and say I need help," she said. A video her children made spread. "I got cards, I got emails, I got financial support," she said. "I had warm food delivered at the end of the day. I had people that called and said call me when you're scared and I did."

Years of sophisticated tests and dozens of medical visits had not found the cause of her infection, which caused blackouts and nausea that eventually made her unable to function. "Dr. Caserio listened to me and as a result of that he saved my life," she said. "I had surgery a month ago (at Pardee). I've been in a lot of hospitals and I've never had better care."(The complete story of Jackie Austin:
Each Woman of Hope will have a portrait, along with their words of encouragement, displayed at the Elizabeth Reilly Breast Center. These portraits will join the past Woman of Hope recipients, including Marcia Caserio, the 2013 Woman of Hope.

The foundation presented a check for $144,227 to Hospital Chair Bill Moyer, exceeding this year's goal.
Started in 1998 primarily to assist women who needed preventive services like a mammogram or for breast cancer treatment, Women Helping Women has expanded over the years to include all women's cancers, heart disease, osteoporosis and other women's diseases.
For more information about the Pardee Hospital Foundation or Women Helping Women, visit or call (828)696-4666. If you know someone in need today, have them call (828) 698-7334.
Pardee Memorial Hospital Foundation was founded as a non-profit organization in January 1996 to educate and inspire the community to support Pardee Hospital. Since its inception, the Foundation has generated over $30 million in pledges and cash gifts for Pardee services.