Survivors Pay It Forward; Ease the Pain of Others

Tim and Vickie Burke

It has been a long and sometimes grueling 12 years for Vickie and Tim Burke, both cancer survivors who chose to help others with services Vickie benefited from—services often not covered by insurance.

In 2008, just two years after Vickie had surgery to remove a 2½-pound cancerous tumor followed by chemotherapy and radiation, she and her husband started a scholarship fund to aid cancer patients with integrative medicine services such as acupuncture, massage therapy, nutrition counseling and stress reduction measures. It’s believed that such treatment can positively impact a range of quality-of-life issues leading to increased energy, enhanced strength, improved appetite, pain relief, better digestive functioning and restful sleep.

“I found that with these treatments my nausea was gone and the aching and horrible feeling of being sick were gone. Even if it was short-lasting, I felt normal,” said Vickie of using integrative medicine services to get through her treatment. “We were lucky we could afford to pay for these services, but many people cannot.”

While Tim recovered from his cancer diagnosis and didn’t need integrative medicine services, Vickie went on to experience neuropathy at her surgery site, which she said also greatly improved through massage therapy. “The services made a difference in the quality of my life,” she said. Tim agrees. “There was a significant difference in how Vickie felt after these treatments,” he recalled.

The scholarship fund the Burkes started is handled discreetly with NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center staff. Patients with limited financial resources who are thought to benefit from integrative medicine services are invited to fill out an application. A committee screens the applications for financial need and then grants limited numbers of free acupuncture, massage or integrative medicine physician consultations for qualified patients. To date, more than 500 services have been offered to patients who otherwise would not be able to afford these treatments.

Vickie and Tim have been able to see the impact integrative medicine has had on Vickie and have enjoyed helping other cancer patients find similar relief. The couple decided to make a planned gift and include NorthShore in their will.

“Tim and Vickie are extraordinary, generous and wonderful supporters of our integrative medicine program,” said Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD, the Medical Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at NorthShore. “The generosity they’ve shown by including NorthShore in their estate plans will help more cancer patients feel stronger and more robust during a difficult time. They have singlehandedly started a community movement in integrative medicine cancer care. Their support has inspired two headliner benefit concerts with ongoing support from other generous donors. I am forever grateful to them for their contributions.”

If you would like to learn more about how you can support NorthShore’s Integrative Medicine Program, please contact Lisa Rietmann, Director of Philanthropy, at 224.364.7230 or lrietmann@northshore.org.

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