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WellSpan Health President and CEO surprises oncology patient with a little holiday cheer

December 23, 2019

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Dennis Hartman of Chambersburg thought he was being interviewed about having hope over the holidays while facing cancer treatments. Instead, he was surprised by WellSpan Health President and CEO Roxanna Gapstur, PhD, RN, with a T-shirt and voucher for a holiday meal from The Butcher Shoppe. Gapstur, a former oncology nurse, felt compelled to meet and surprise him after hearing of his positive outlook

Dennis Hartman of Chambersburg thought he was being interviewed about having hope over the holidays while facing cancer treatments. Instead, he was surprised by WellSpan Health President and CEO Roxanna Gapstur, PhD, RN, with a T-shirt and voucher for a holiday meal from The Butcher Shoppe. Gapstur, a former oncology nurse, felt compelled to meet and surprise him after hearing of his positive outlook

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – For some people fighting cancer, hope can be a hard thing to maintain. Appointments and treatments are peppered over chunks of time; treatments can leave one with nausea and fatigue as the immune system shifts into overdrive; and the statistics associated with some diagnoses can be frightening.

For 62-year-old Dennis Hartman, it’s hard not to hold hope close – something he, in part, credits the staff of WellSpan Medical Oncology & Hematology for fostering in patients.

“(It’s) a wonderful staff here,” Hartman said of the Chambersburg-based practice. “It’s absolutely fantastic that it’s this close to home. Everybody here’s been terrific.”

WellSpan Health President and CEO Roxanna Gapstur, PhD, RN, said the ability of patients to access the care they need without having to travel far is an important principle at the core of WellSpan’s mission and values.

“If our patients don’t have to travel to get the high-quality care they need, they can focus on healing,” she said.

Hartman is fighting metastatic bladder cancer and is receiving his second round of a new chemotherapy treatment.

“The end result’s going to be positive – nothing but positivity here from these people and this staff,” he said. “I’ve kept a positive attitude – that’s at least half the battle, in my opinion.”

Gapstur, a former oncology nurse, understands the power of positivity during cancer treatment. When she heard about Hartman and his positive outlook, she felt compelled to meet him while she was in town one morning about a week before Christmas.

“I spent 22 years caring for patients as a nurse at the bedside – both in the hospital and in cancer centers,” she explained. “I know that, especially this time of year during the holidays, it can be really difficult to go through treatment. It can be hard to keep your hopes up.”

Gapstur met Hartman, a patient of Dr. John Robinson, under the premise of the Chambersburg man being interviewed about having hope through the holidays during cancer treatments.

His one request in “payment” for the interview? A WellSpan Medical Oncology & Hematology T-shirt to help promote the close-to-home team of skilled providers and nurses he believes has done so very much to give him the advanced care he needs.

Gapstur honored his request for the T-shirt but took the surprise further – by providing Hartman and other oncology patients who were receiving infusions that morning with a voucher for a holiday meal for four from The Butcher Shoppe.

“We care about the whole person; we care about the spiritual and emotional care of our patients just as much as we care about the physical part of the care,” she explained. “So, especially around the holidays, we want to offer hope to our families and give them the emotional fortitude to make it through their treatments.”

For Hartman, that emotional strength is something that allows him to see beyond cancer and his current treatment regimen.

“It’s going to take a while. I don’t know how long, but I’m going to beat it,” he said. “Plain and simple.”