“It was like all the air was sucked out of the room for just an instant.” That’s how IU Health Foundation South Central Region Philanthropy Director Diane Buzzell describes the moment she learned she had breast cancer. Now that she’s caught her breath, Diane is ready to do what she’s helped so many other IU Health patients and families do: give back.
As a way to show her gratitude for the care she received during her breast cancer journey, Buzzell has made a $10,000 gift in support of cancer care in the south central region. Her gift will also name a flagpole in front of the new Indiana University Regional Academic Health Center at IU Health Bloomington in honor of her parents—a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, and a breast cancer survivor.
Well aware of her family history of cancer—breast cancer in particular—Buzzell wasn’t surprised by the diagnosis, but she was caught off guard by when it happened, saying she expected it later in life. Still, Buzzell knew from her work that she was in good hands. “Because I’ve talked to so many patients who have had cancer and later became donors, it helped me wrap my head around what was going on a little bit quicker,” she says. “I had heard all these wonderful stories of patients who relied on IU Health for breast cancer care—and had wonderful things to say about their care.”
Easing Buzzell’s mind further after the diagnosis was knowing she wouldn’t have to travel far from home to receive the highest quality of care. As a Bloomington resident, she had many IU Health facilities to choose from near her home—including IU Health Bloomington, IU Health Bedford Radiology and the IU Health Olcott Nurse Navigation program, a philanthropy-funded service that offers nurse navigators to help patients and their loved ones understand and manage the complex emotional and physical challenges of cancer.
That knowledge helped Diane return to some semblance of normalcy, even as she spoke at a cancer-related fundraising event the same night as her diagnosis. With her wife by her side, Diane remained focused on what her son called, “the best worst news.” Cancer, yes, but found early, at stage zero. “Stage zero can only be detected through a diagnostic mammogram,” she says, “which is why it’s so important to not just have one but to do so regularly.”
To treat her cancer, Buzzell underwent a lumpectomy, followed by placement of the revolutionary SAVI brachytherapy device, which delivers radiation internally to eradicate the cancer with minimal side effects.
Throughout her experience, Buzzell was grateful for the expertise of her physicians and treatment team, but even more so for their compassion. From a radiologist who wrapped her in warm blankets during treatment to her Olcott center nurse navigator, Buzzell now sees the power of philanthropy from the other side.
“We have been the beneficiary of other people’s philanthropy,” she says. “I kind of knew what to expect, because I’ve heard so many patient stories. But I can see how it must feel for somebody who doesn’t know what it’s like, to have this wonderful nurse navigator come in and say, ‘I’m here for you. What can I answer? What can I tell you?’ To know that you’ve got somebody there when you don’t know what to expect—it’s pretty remarkable.”
Now, Buzzell looks forward to sharing the news of her gift with her parents. “I am who I am because of them,” she says. Her gift celebrates them and marks an important time in her life—when she got the opportunity to see the impact of the work she does in action. “I saw what it was like to feel that the IU Health system cares about you. I understand now.”
If you’d like to support cancer care in south-central Indiana, contact IU Health Foundation Development Officer Emily Trinkle at 812.345.5625 or IU Health Foundation Philanthropy Director Diane Buzzell at 812.322.4129.