Back to All News

Dejanae & Destiny

In Honor of Fathers

Daddy, Are You Going to Die?

Damion B. lights up when he talks about his daily morning video chat with his eight- and nine-year-old daughters. DeJanae and Destiny ask him if they can talk to his nurse. They giggle and say hi. Then they pause and quietly ask, “Daddy are you going to die?”

Damion has Acute Myeloid Leukemia, or AML, a blood cancer. But he is determined to stay strong for his daughters, who are in Jamaica with their mother. Even though he isn’t with them, he says they share a great bond. They give him the daily dose of hope he needs to fight his recalcitrant form of leukemia.

Damion is enrolled in a dual drug treatment trial at the NIH following two courses of chemotherapy, the second so aggressive that initially he couldn’t walk. Losing his medical insurance compounded Damion’s stress. In our upcoming newsletter, read how Friends of Patients at the NIH helped Damion by covering his insurance premium.

Celebrate Father’s Day this week. In honor or memory of your father or family member who may be in treatment, please consider making a gift to support patients, like Damion. DONATE NOW

Duane Gives the Gift of Photography

Duane Heaton, a volunteer at Friends at NIH, transforms light and beauty into photographs that tell emotional stories. A proud father of three and grandfather of three, he’s a passionate photographer who uses his gift to help others.

“This is my opportunity to give back for being blessed with a talent,” he says. “When others give toasters as gifts, I give my heart and soul in my photography.”

Duane studied photography in high school and the military. But he says his passion for art and using his talent to “give back” stems, in part, from a horrifying early childhood event. His mother was abducted, assaulted, shot and left buried in a cornfield to die. Miraculously, with the help of a passer-by, she survived, determined to live for the sake of her children.

Duane says that awful trauma taught him to “don’t ever see yourself as a victim” and “always give to others, because there will be enough to share.” It’s a lesson he passed on to his children as they grew up. And it’s what brought him to Friends at NIH, where he photographs patients who face tremendous emotional and financial hardship undergoing experimental treatment, along with those caring for them. He hopes those photo essays will compel those who can to support Friends’ work, so “there will be enough” for others too.

You can honor and celebrate your favorite father volunteer or Duane’s gift to Friends at NIH. MAKE A GIFT NOW

Ana’s Impact

Friends Board Member Roger Longenderfer has turned a father’s grief into a mission of hope and support for patients at the NIH. After his daughter, Ana Longenderfer Dougherty, died of cancer in 2015, Roger and his wife, Michele, and Ana’s husband, Chris, created “Ana’s Impact” to honor Ana’s energy, intelligence and resilient spirit, partnering with Friends at NIH to support other patients. “Ana’s experience at the NIH was different from other medical centers where she had explored treatments,” Roger said. “She felt comfortable at NIH and said to me there is hope here — in the important research work that will help somebody.”

Roger, Michele, and Ana’s husband, Chris Dougherty, are honoring Ana’s legacy by giving the gift of “normalcy” to patients and their families, if even for a day, during treatment. Ana’s Impact funds creative arts programs at NIH’s Clinical Center, especially for patients in isolation; supports local outings to movies, restaurants, and sports activities; and funds a nearby apartment for families who need a place to stay, close to their doctors, for long-term monitoring.

Chris, Ana, Michelle, Adria & Roger

As a committed Friends Board Member, former hospital administrator, and father, Roger knows first-hand what it means to light up a family’s days with normal activities – something most of us take for granted – and lighten their financial stress during the most difficult times of their lives.

June is when we celebrate Father’s Day. Please consider making a gift, in honor or memory of your father, to support Ana’s Impact, a special program partnering with Friends of Patients at the NIH. DONATE NOW!


Tagged with:
The Friends of Patients at the NIH