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LIGHTNING EDITORIAL: Pardee campaign worthy of support

Everyone knew the news. Everyone knew “the ask” was coming. Yet everyone showed up. Well, not everyone exactly but enough to fill close to half the seats in the Bo Thomas Auditorium at Blue Ridge Community College.

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Community leaders, donors and doctors showed up last week for the kickoff of the $6 million campaign by the Pardee Hospital Foundation to build a new comprehensive cancer on Sixth Avenue at North Oak Street.
To hear two veterans of the war on cancer frame the fundraising effort was both comforting and inspiring.
Marcia Caserio, a two-time cancer survivor and an uber-volunteer who has been present at the creation of so many of our community’s good ideas and lasting assets, brought the audience to its feet. She asked first that current cancer patients stand, then cancer survivors, then cancer caregivers, then friends and family of anyone who had succumbed to cancer — and it was no surprise that everyone in the hall by then had stood.
“Cancer is important to all of us because when it touches one of us it touches all of us,” Caserio said.
Dr. William Medina knows how true that is. Caserio joked that she was such a challenging patient that Medina retired after saving her life a second time. Medina, who co-chairs the campaign with Caserio, announced that the foundation had received pledges covering $1.7 million toward the $6 million goal, which besides the Comprehensive Cancer Center also will fund full implementation of the Operating Room Integration Program and the creation of an endowment.
The deeply personal nature of a battle against cancer was brought home most effectively by Rachel Willingham, a North Henderson High School teacher. A two-time breast cancer survivor, Willingham shared with humor and dignity how her battle with cancer had become her family’s battle.
“It’s fitting that the campaign is called ‘Right here. Right now,’” she said, “because when you’re diagnosed that’s how you live. You can’t really think too far ahead because you don’t really know if you’re going to have a far ahead. You live right here, right now.”
“Right Here, Right Now” invokes that can-do spirit that made the cancer center possible in the first place. The city of Hendersonville, Henderson County, Blue Ridge Community College, Wingate University and Pardee all signed the groundbreaking agreement to participate in the $32 million health sciences building.
Beyond brick and mortar, the project represents not just an investment in education and health care but in our community’s economic future. The same linear accelerator that would treat a cancer patient at UNC will treat a cancer patient here. From our gifted and dedicated cancer doctors to the healing garden for patients and families, the comprehensive cancer center promises a level of care that is unlike any in this part of the state. The campaign known as “Right Here, Right Now” gives the community has the opportunity to make the next leap in health care possible and to make Hendersonville the newest star in cancer treatment in Western North Carolina.