Bon Secours St. Francis Health System held numerous events on Tuesday, September 18 to officially unveil the new Hawkins Family Center for Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Care. The new space is located on the fifth floor of St. Francis Downtown.
Bon Secours AYA Cancer Care is one of the few programs in the United States exclusively dedicated to supporting adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer. It is a comprehensive, community-based program focused on coordinating care and improving clinical trial access of AYA patients in the Upstate. The goal is to assure longer, healthier lives for young people with cancer.
The new Hawkins Family Center for Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Care is a place where teens and young adults (ages 15 to 40) can receive this uniform support, treatment, and care in a setting designed specifically for them. In many hospitals, teens and young adults often receive care in pediatric wards or with older adults in general cancer facilities. This new unit helps bridge the gap.
“Having a place where you can meet people and just hang out and it’s not like you’re stuck in a hospital room, it’s totally awesome,” says Iscella Macias, a 31-year-old cancer survivor.
This center is a place for AYA patients, designed by AYA patients. In fact, some of them worked alongside staff and caregivers to help shape the new space. The unit includes four patient rooms, a nurse’s station, an open concept lounge with kitchen, an exercise area, and a family bathroom.
The new facility was made possible by a $320,000 gift from First Citizens Bank and Teen Cancer America, as well as a gift from Dr. Joseph O. Hawkins, a cancer survivor, and his family.
“This program is important to our young people in this community, and I think this program could be the model for other communities as well,” says Dr. Hawkins.
Roger Daltrey, lead singer of the legendary rock band The Who, also made a special trip to Greenville to tour the new space. Daltrey is the co-founder of Teen Cancer America along with bandmate Pete Townshend. He decided to make a detour during his tour with the band to see the new center and visit with patients.
“Coming here today and seeing what you’ve created at this regional hospital is truly remarkable,” says Daltrey. “I am so proud, and with your help and your support this will be the first of many regional hospitals that have similar facilities.”
During his time in the center, Roger took selfies with patients and nurses, shared jokes, and shared stories of victories over cancer. He also unveiled a guitar he and Townshend signed that will now permanently be on display in the space.
The new center features some artistic installations too, including one in the shape of a cairn, which is a stack of rocks used as a landmark to guide hikers or those on a trail. Each hiker that passes by a cairn on a trail will add their own stone to let others know they're on the right path.
“It also lets you know that somebody’s been there and done that before even when the journey was difficult, and that’s part of what we’ve adopted so patients can connect with each other and know that even when they’re struggling in this fight, they’re not alone,” says AYA Program Director Dr. Hal Crosswell.
Each patient who stays in the new center will receive a rock when they begin their stay. Before they check out of the hospital, they’ll drop it into one of the two metal holders to show other cancer patients that come after them they’re not alone and can also get through this journey.
Naturally, Roger Daltrey signed a rock to help get the new tradition started.
Learn more about the Bon Secours services available in Greenville, SC.