Cancer Care Award


Extraordinary Care

The Parkview Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Cancer Care Award recognizes and honors the dedication, innovation and courage of people who give of themselves to help others undergoing a personal cancer battle. Often, this type of involvement and giving makes a vital difference in the experience and outcomes of cancer patients. These unsung heroes can be healthcare providers, researchers, cancer patient advocates or friends and family.

The annual award recognizes people and healthcare professionals who have given extraordinary service in any of these areas:

  • Providing encouragement, compassion or hope

  • Developing a unique solution

  • Creating a healthier environment

  • Educating the public and/or lobbying for patient-focused change

  • Creating easier access to services and screenings

The award

Award winners are honored in a public ceremony and receive a unique work of art created by local artists. Past award winners have received items such as a decorative hand-turned hardwood bowls, stained glass pieces, tapestry and quilted wall hangings. The cancer center seeks to involve artists who have been personally affected by cancer, or who wish to contribute to this uplifting program.

In addition to receiving the gift of art, each recipient is featured in a photo displayed for one year at the Parkview Comprehensive Cancer Center. The recipient’s name is also engraved on a commemorative plaque.

The Parkview Comprehensive Cancer accepts nominations for the Cancer Care Award during the year. Specific deadlines will be updated.

Simply fill out the form at the above link, and tell us (in 500 words or less) why the nominee deserves recognition. Each nominee will receive a letter from the selection committee.

The award winners will be notified by phone and presented with the award at a ceremony each year at the Parkview Cancer Center. 

Return this form to:

Community Outreach Coordinator

Parkview Comprehensive Cancer Center
11141-11143 Parkview Plaza Drive
Fort Wayne, IN 46845


* Individuals nominated previously may be nominated for the award again. Winners are ineligible for re-nomination for a period of five years.

For more information, contact the community outreach coordinator at (260) 266-9180.

2013 Award Winners

Ruth Bontrager

Ruth, a volunteer at Parkview LaGrange Hospital, is a trained massage therapist and a volunteer who works with recovering breast surgery patients and their doctors to ease patients’ pain and help improve their mobility after surgery. Ruth, who is described as a caring, encouraging and sympathetic woman, feels this is a way of giving back to others for the kindness and care given to her sister.

Rae Gonterman, senior vice president, Parkview Cancer Service Line, described Ruth as a woman who continually “pays it forward to people she doesn’t even know.” Ruth volunteers one day each week as a greeter in the emergency department at Parkview LaGrange Hospital. In addition to her volunteer work, she also knits baby caps for babies born at Parkview LaGrange Hospital, makes christening gowns for stillborn babies and volunteers throughout LaGrange County.

Carrie Barcus

Carrie, a nurse and breast cancer survivor, received three nominations, which is a testament to the influence she’s made and the hope she’s instilled in others. Despite seeking medical attention in January 2011 for weight loss and a lump in her right breast, she was not diagnosed with breast cancer for another nine months. Her persistence paid off and, most likely, saved her life.

“Being a nurse, I knew that you don’t turn 40 and lose weight without trying unless you have cancer,” Carrie said. “Then, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, I kept asking, ‘How could I have so many tests done, yet each one came back negative?’”

She learned that her mammogram had not picked up the tumor because it was mistaken for dense breast tissue. Both dense breast tissue and tumors appear white on a mammogram.

In August 2012, Carrie met with state Senator David Long to discuss what it would take to create a law supporting women who have dense breast tissue. Then, she started spreading the word and asking for signatures on a petition. Through her efforts, thousands of Hoosier women will have the benefit of early detection, as she was instrumental in bringing Senate Bill 0414 into existence. The new law states that physicians and diagnostic centers must inform women who have dense breast tissue about the possibility that their mammograms may have not detected abnormalities. The law also requires insurance companies to provide coverage for secondary tests for confirmation, such as an ultrasound or MRI.

While dealing with the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, she continued to work part-time, raise her family and help others who had been living with their own cancer diagnoses.

2012 Award Winners

Kristina Alderdice

As a breast cancer survivor herself, Kristina is an advocate for women facing breast cancer. Kristina leads a not-for-profit organization, “Hope in a Handbag,” that reaches hospitals and cancer centers in a 13-county area. Through her work, women facing a mastectomy receive a tote bag with items to help them in the hospital and when they return home from surgery. Her organization impacts the lives of 500 women a year. Kristina encourages women to do self-breast exams and is a supporter of breast cancer research. She continues to share her story and is an encouragement to those in need of support during difficult health challenges.

Shannon Carpenter

As the chairperson for the Relay for Life of Steuben County, Shannon is described as a kind, generous, loving, and charitable person. Shannon has led several efforts to raise thousands of dollars in the fight against cancer. Her work led to the creation of the Anderson University Relay for Life, as well as the Colleges Against Cancer Club at Anderson. Shannon also has a personal cancer story. She was by her husband’s side through a recent battle with cancer. He is now cancer free and doing well. Shannon is an innovator and is committed to finding grants and sponsorships in support of cancer patients.

2011 Award Winners

Beth Goldsmith

In the fight against breast cancer, Beth is described as a true warrior for the cause and an inspiration to many. With her sister's diagnosis in 1997, Beth became an advocate for the importance of breast cancer education and research. Through her real estate business, she has donated more than $100,000 for breast cancer research at the Indiana University School of Medicine. As an advocate and patient herself, Beth joins her mother and aunt as breast cancer survivors. She continues to be involved in a multitude of activities to honor her sister and grandmother, who lost their cancer battles. A committed athlete, Beth participates in marathons, triathlons and cycling events – not to mention dozens of fundraising events each year – to continue to raise money in hopes that breast cancer will soon be cured.

Debbie A. Johnston Foundation

The Debbie A. Johnston Foundation focuses on ovarian cancer research, early detection, education and awareness. It also aims to improve life for women who are living with this daunting disease. Two new programs are making a remarkable difference: Live Your Dream helps ovarian cancer patients realize lifelong dreams, and The Volunteer Network places volunteers in patients' homes to provide basic services – such as cooking, cleaning, laundry and lawn care – that help with daily routines and home upkeep. Started by Kristi Johnston in honor of her irrepressible mother, this foundation is bringing hope and a “live each day to the fullest” perspective to women on their cancer journey.  

2010 Award winners

Anita DeSelm

In 2005, Anita lost her 20-year-old daughter (who had never smoked) in a brutal battle with lung cancer. Since then, Anita has fulfilled her daughter’s final wish by doing all she can to educate young people about cancer to spare them from this terrible disease. She joined forces with the thoracic oncologist who founded the organization now known as Cancer-Free Lungs, and has spearheaded the annual 2-mile walk/run fundraiser in Fort Wayne for four years. Anita also provides eye-opening, interactive presentations at schools about the realities of smoking and cancer and the strategies tobacco companies use to market to teens. Although the presentations can be personally difficult for her, Anita does not shy away from relating her daughter’s experience, and that honesty helps her connect with the students.

Appleseed Quilters Guild

This guild of more than 100 women works year-round to create quilts that are donated to children with cancer or brain tumors through Camp Watcha-Wanna-Do. The quilts help comfort the children and show them that strangers care about what they're going through. Extra quilts are distributed to pediatric oncology clinics and new pediatric patients. The guild has donated quilts to the American Red Cross, Parkview Hospital, Vincent House, Charis House and other organizations. More than 10 percent of the proceeds from the guild’s annual quilt show are donated to cancer-related charities. In 2000, the Appleseed Quilters Guild created blocks for the "Thank You, Mamm" quilt at Quilt America, helping to raise awareness of the importance of mammograms.

2009 Award winners

Kathy Schaffer

A personal battle with cancer often inspires individuals to get involved in cancer causes, participating in fundraising walks and other activities. But for one Parkview employee, an experience with breast cancer and lymphedema has inspired the passionate pursuit of offering comfort, information and hope to other patients and their families. Kathy Schaffer, Parkview Hospital RN case manager and cancer survivor, gives endlessly of her time to visit and answer questions for women who are dealing with cancer. This mother of three teenagers, who lost her spouse to prostate cancer, has made it her mission to educate herself and reach out to others. She has diligently researched lymphedema and leads a lymphedema support group. She is also the coordinator of a Conquering Breast Cancer support group co-sponsored by Parkview and Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana. She spends time with anyone who asks for her help, talking with them, giving advice and support and recommending books, many of which she has purchase with her own money.

Columbia City Hgh School Lady Eagles soccer team

Columbia City High School Lady Eagles soccer team members, under the leadership of coach Bill Duffy, decided to play a soccer game dressed in pink jerseys that would be auctioned off to raise money for free mammograms for women who could not otherwise afford them. Their idea sparked a contagious enthusiasm that led students, teachers, administrators, businesses and other community members to embrace the color pink in a series of inspired fundraisers. Students and community members donated pink items ranging from hats for the referees to socks for the opposing team to a pink soccer ball. The student body held a “wear pink” day. One club sold pink balloons. The student council raffled off the chance to sit on a pink couch in the end zone of the Homecoming game. One elementary school held a “Tickled Pink” fundraiser – students could pay 25 cents to tell a joke in class – and that effort alone raised $300. Together, all of these efforts produced more than $7,000 for a local mammogram program.

Back to top