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Published on August 21, 2017

A “tender” night to support cancer servicesA “tender” night to support cancer services

Get ready to kick up your heels, dress to the nines, listen to some great music, eat delicious food and enjoy the company of friends at the 16th annual American Cancer Society Compass of Hope Gala on Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Oyster Harbors Club in Osterville.

The theme of the event, which begins at 5 p.m., with cocktails is “Tender is the Night.”

The proceeds of the evening support the American Cancer Society (ACS) programs that benefit cancer patients and survivors including research, support services, education, lodging and transportation. The programs benefit many cancer patients on Cape Cod.

Alice O’Neill of Osterville, who is one of nine on the gala committee, has been involved for more than a decade and is very devoted to the event. She joined the committee in 2003 at the invitation of Dr. Beth Herrick, a radiation oncologist formerly with Cape Cod Hospital.

“I was determined to help others here on the Cape because I couldn’t help my sister who died from breast cancer at the age of 43,” she said. “Many members of the Murphy side of my family have also been touched by cancer including my sisters, a niece, myself and my late husband, Ed. The doctors at Cape Cod Hospital were so wonderful to all of us.”

In addition to O’Neill, other members of the committee are:

  • Barbara Dunn
  • Sharon Kennedy
  • Phyllis Connelly
  • Susan Ellis
  • Amy Britton
  • Melissa Marchand
  • Diane Salomone
  • Sheila Coyle
  • Rob Thorne

The Honorees

O’Neill’s dedication is mirrored by the three honorees of this year’s event, who serve the community and have an impact on others’ lives. This year the medical honoree is Daniel Canaday, MD, a radiation oncologist at Davenport-Mugar Cancer Center at Cape Cod Hospital and Clark Cancer Center at Falmouth Hospital. The community honorees are Bob and Colleen Kohl of the Glenna Kohl Fund for Hope.

“We picked Dan because he gives beyond words and he just can’t do enough for his patients,” said O’Neill. “He often makes home visits to see his patients and he came to see my husband at home when he was so sick.”

Dr. Canaday said he was surprised to receive the call that he had been chosen. He is honored and said he also feels humbled by it.

“This award has been given to some very influential physicians, both nationally and locally here on the Cape. I am honored to be a part of that group.”

He stressed that his work could not be accomplished without his team.

“In the field of radiology, it is very much a team approach because we have therapists who treat our patients and nurses who support the patients. A radiology oncologist can’t just hang out a shingle and go to work. It takes a team to make this all happen, and I honestly can’t do anything without them.”

The theme of this year’s gala honors the memory of Glenna Kohl, the daughter of Bob and Colleen Kohl of Marstons Mills, who died of melanoma in 2008. The committee chose the theme, “Tender is the Night,” after hearing Glenna’s story and seeing a photo of last year’s event that featured a sunset over Cotuit Bay.

“What a tender night it’s going to be remembering this beautiful young woman,” said O’Neill.

The Kohls started the Glenna Kohl Fund for Hope to continue their daughter’s vision. After years of tanning and working in the sun as a lifeguard, Glenna was diagnosed in 2005 with melanoma, a skin cancer that often spreads to other parts of the body.

“The mission towards the end of her life was to get the word out about the dangers of tanning and being in the sun,” said Colleen. “She had so many friends who were doing it and she wanted them to become more aware of protecting themselves.”

Her parents raise funds to educate others about the dangers of tanning and spending unprotected time in the sun and the importance of early detection of melanoma. Through donations to the fund, they support research and have been instrumental in providing canopies for lifeguard stations at Barnstable beaches and large red shade canopies for beachgoers. With financial support from Cape Cod Healthcare, they distributed 30 sunscreen dispensers in the 15 Cape towns.

“We are so honored to be chosen,” said the Kohls. “We are also grateful to have the opportunity to speak to those attending the gala about the fund and get the word out about melanoma.”

Proceeds Benefit ACS Programs

The proceeds of the evening go directly to the American Cancer Society, which are, in turn, used to support ACS programs including Road to Recovery, Look Good, Feel Better, support groups at the Cape Cod Hospital, Falmouth Hospital and the Cuda Women’s Health Center, and virtual online support groups, according to Ashley Wills, senior manager, community development for the American Cancer Society.

“The ACS provides a tremendous amount of support to our patients,” said Dr. Canaday. “The Road to Recovery (volunteers who drive patients to and from their appointments) is a godsend to our patients who aren’t able to get back and forth to appointments themselves. We treat a large number of people from Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, and they are able to assist with transportation with those folks as well.”

Knowing the importance of any funds raised staying local, the committee asked ACS if the proceeds from this year’s event could stay on Cape Cod. The organization agreed to earmark the funds from the Hands Up For Hope s portion of the 2017 Compass of Hope Gala specifically to reduce barriers to care for cancer patients and caregivers on the Cape and Islands, such as transportation to and from treatment. That makes this year’s event unlike any other, said Theresa Freeman, director of communications for the American Cancer Society.

“Nationally, it’s not always the case that the funds come back to the area,” she said. “It really demonstrates the ACS’ commitment to Cape Cod. We’re responding to the volunteers and the residents in devoting these funds to their neighbors and region. This event has a special place in our hearts because it’s Cape Codders helping Cape Codders.”

A special segment of the evening is the Hands Up for Hope when attendees are asked to donate specific amounts by raising their hands.

“The Hands Up for Hope funds from the 2017 Compass of Hope Gala will be utilized to reduce the barriers to care for cancer patients and caregivers on the Cape and Islands, such as transportation to and from treatment, and will support and enhance the work of the American Cancer Society,” said Wills.

“We are also working on creating hotel partnerships on the Cape for reduced rate lodging to accommodate patients who travel from Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard,” said Wills.