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Radiation Therapist Kristy Hamby runs marathon to support OMC Foundation's Cancer Emergency Fund

Radiation Therapist Kristy Hamby runs marathon to support OMC Foundation's Cancer Emergency Fund

Cancer doesn’t have a face until it’s your own, or someone’s that you love.

WEST PLAINS, Mo – When Kristy Hamby’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, she brought her to West Plains from her home in Poplar Bluff for treatment at Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) Cancer Treatment Center. Kristy knows firsthand the hearts of those employed by OMC’s Cancer Treatment Center. Seven years ago as a new Radiation Therapist, those same souls gave an inexperienced Kristy an opportunity that would not only change her life, but give her the ability to affect those around her. Kristy says that the genuine kindness, technical skill, compassion and absolute willingness of the OMC Cancer Treatment Center staff to selflessly pour their entire hearts into their patients is why she chose to work at OMC. “The OMC Cancer Treatment Center saved my mom’s life. And this year, it saved the life of our son’s mom,” states Kristy. She is referring to her husband’s ex-wife, and now close friend.

OMC is a relatively small healthcare system serving West Plains and 8 surrounding rural counties. It is the center of the community in more ways than simple healthcare. Without the Cancer Treatment Center, many patients would have to travel in excess of 2 hours to receive treatment. An expense and inconvenience that could derail critical care plans for a cancer patient. As the area’s largest employer with 1,300 employees, OMC is truly family caring for family, neighbor caring for neighbor.

“Kristy has run twelve marathons, most for charity, and all anonymously,” says Dianne Richardson, RN, Director, OMC Cancer Treatment Center. “She is humble and kind with an open heart for her patients.” Recently she decided to share her fundraising efforts so that others may be inspired to give to the patients that she and her coworkers care for. Patients that are cared for, befriended and celebrated by the staff and community. When Kristy decided to go public with another marathon fundraising effort, the community was quick to answer the call. Kristy’s husband, Rodney, founder of Crossfit SoMo, stepped up to sponsor her entry into the 2018 Lakefront Marathon in Wisconsin. Many SoMo athletes and OMC coworkers pledged funds.

“Everyone thinks running 26.2 miles in a marathon is hard, but that’s actually the easy part. Cheering fans, drink and snack stations, strategically placed port-a-potties, ‘free’ shirts…but it’s the 542.7 miles leading up to the marathon that really tests the person,” Kristy said. Kristy says she spent those miles thinking about her personal cancer warriors, the strength and determination of those still fighting, and praying for them all.

Kristy believes in the OMC Cancer Treatment Center and has witnessed time and again the good that its Emergency Fund can do. With financial support, the OMC Emergency Fund provides patients in need with assistance for prescription and OTC medications, chemo drugs and pain meds, transportation to and from treatments, and sometimes even groceries or gas.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), almost 40% of men and women in this country will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. Due to rising medication prices, health insurance costs, limited access to medical care, and other treatment-related expenses, the financial burden of cancer is substantial for many patients. One in eight cancer patients in the United States will reject treatment due to cost. The median monthly out-of-pocket expenditure is $703. That surprising financial burden causes distress that sometimes makes them unwilling to pay for the care that could save their lives.

Kristy muses that you don’t have to try to save the world, any donation to the emergency fund will change the life of someone at the OMC Cancer Treatment Center. It’s a chance for all of us to be the hero that we hope will someday help us. She says that running was the easy part. She was honored to have had the opportunity to band together with her fellow OMC and Crossfit SoMo Cancer warriors to raise money and change a little corner of the world in West Plains. “The only extraordinary thing about me is all of the extraordinary people that God has blessed my life with,” states Hamby.

As she approached mile 18 of the Lakefront Marathon this past October, she carried one of these extraordinary people in her heart. On her arm she had written his name, Richard Delgado, to remind her not to quit, as he had not quit fighting. In an unfortunate turn of events, Delgado the former Director of the OMC Cancer Treatment Center is now one of her patients. He had seen something special in Kristy, and hired her based on her spirit and positive energy, regardless of her experience. He knew that he could teach her skills, but the way she meshed with the team from the start, was all her.

At the OMC Cancer Treatment Center, the completion of a patient’s treatment is celebrated much like the finish of a marathon. In the lobby is a bell - a gift from a former patient to medical director and oncologist Dr. Morgan. Every time a patient finishes their course of treatment, they ring the bell in celebration, surrounded by their caregivers, family and friends

Ring this Bell, Three Times Well.

It’s Toll to Clearly Say,

My Treatment’s Done,

This Course is Run and I am on My Way!

The OMC Cancer Treatment Center was designed with patients’ comfort and safety in mind and is equipped to provide high-quality, compassionate care to patients in south central Missouri and north central Arkansas. Located in the Shaw Medical Building, they offer their patients the same leading edge cancer treatment they can receive in progressive cancer treatment centers across the country. Their compassionate, personalized approach provides their patients with comprehensive and effective cancer care. The OMC Cancer Treatment Center first opened its doors in 1998, and currently sees more than 400 newly diagnosed cancer patients each year, plus hundreds more who receive ongoing cancer treatment.

For more information on how you can support OMC Cancer Treatment Center, please call the OMC Foundation at 417-853-5200.

The Hamby family at the finish of the Lakefront Marathon, Milwaukee, WI.

Pictured from left to right: Iva Highfill, Oncology Social Services, OMC Cancer Treatment Center; Sarah Johnson, Donor Relations Coordinator, OMC Foundation; Dianne Richardson, Director, OMC Cancer Treatment Center; Kristy Hamby, Radiation Therapist, OMC Cancer Treatment Center; Rodney Hamby, Co-Owner, Crossfit SoMo.

Celebratory Bell in lobby of OMC Cancer Treatment Center.


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