By Jesus Lopez-Gomez
On a bright morning, Donna Coulter looked deep into her wooded backyard and furrowed her brow thinking how recently the view was cast in a thick, blustery white – in the midst of a snow storm.
“It was a Tuesday, I remember that because every Tuesday I went for blood work,” she said seated at her kitchen table. It's a weekly habit her body remembers well even though she's been cancer free for nearly half a year.
“Really, my husband should be here,” Donna says suddenly with a laugh. Opening her home to patients traveling to and from the University of Kansas Cancer Center on Goodview Circle in Lee's Summit, that was a team decision, she insists.
“It was just an offer,” she said. “This has just been made out to be too much.”
So, they called the cancer center and issued the offer, which by the way Coulter says still stands.
As someone with experience with a weekly chemotherapy regimen – Coulter beat cancer in October of last year, seven months after her diagnosis – she said the offer is less of a luxury than a potential opportunity for a cancer patient to get some very necessary rest.
“You really have to have sat there in that chair for three hours (getting treatment) to think about how much of a hurdle it would be to have to drive after. And in the snow,” Coulter said. “So, to me, no, making this offer wasn't unusual.”
Mindy Swayne, cancer center practice manager, said it takes just a quick glance at their patient load to appreciate how generous this is. Her residence could have potentially been a home to the approximately 40 patients receiving therapy that day, that was how many people the hospital was treating before it closed early and rescheduled with other patients during the storm.
Swayne said she's seen patients partner with one another through treatments and form support groups, but having one individual step forth and lead a gracious effort like Coulter has is completely unprecedented.
So when the public relations team called on staff to recall any good deeds that were done on the snow day, Mindy said Coulter naturally came to mind.
“She's so sweet,” Coulter said. “I actually went to take a picture of her, and she seemed almost embarrassed.”
“'It's not a big deal,' she kept saying. 'People do stuff like this all the time.' And maybe that's true, and maybe it's the case that we're just not hearing about it. Then, it's important that we talk about this to educate the public on what they can do for one another.”
Coulter is a retired educator, a grandmother to four and mother to two daughters. When she's not trying to save the world, she enjoys traveling with her husband and making ridiculously good homemade cinnamon rolls.