When Mike Power drove to Stony Brook University’s Cancer Center on February 19, it was hard not to think of another drive he took some 35 years ago…with his mother, Emily, taking her for treatment as she suffered from breast cancer. “I got to the hospital in five minutes,” Power said. “I was driving like a madman, and I was young; I think I was 17 or 18 at the time. The cop’s behind me, trying to pull me over, and I wasn’t stopping. I drove right to the hospital, got out, and said, ‘My mom has to go in there, so if you want to arrest me, go right ahead.”
Power didn’t go to jail that night — the officer had figured there was a medical emergency involved, and just wanted to make sure he was safe — but the urgency of that night has stayed with him through the years, leading to his reason for visiting the Cancer Center in February.
When Power arrived, patients from the Cancer Center were sitting with local beauticians, who fitted them with wigs and assisted with their makeup. It was the latest installment of “Pretty and Powerful,” an event presented by the Cancer Center with the support of the Emily Power Foundation to bring a personal touch to cancer treatment.
“It definitely is empowering to feel like ourselves again,” said Sara Giglio. “I miss my eyebrows and eyelashes more than I miss my hair, and having this done, I feel like my old self again. I can look at a picture from pre-cancer, and feel just normal and beautiful.”
For Power, who received an enthusiastic hug from Giglio when they were introduced, that kind of effect is exactly what he wants to hear, the kind of experience he would have wanted for his mother during her own battle with cancer. “She was just so miserable all the time, and in so much pain,” Power said. “It’s programs like this that help them take their mind off that pain for just a little bit. That’s important to me.”
It’s that spirit that drives all of the Emily Power Foundation’s contributions to patient advocacy at the Cancer Center, from digital tablets for patients to use during chemotherapy treatments, to a van to help bring patients in for treatment, to events like Pretty and Powerful.
It’s that spirit that Power found driving him when he retired in 2010 from a career building fiber-optic cable systems.
“I started asking the question,” Power said, ‘What makes Mike Power happy?’ Helping other people makes me happy. So, that’s what I’m doing.”
It’s not hard to see the difference that it makes.
“I come for my treatments here,” Giglio said, “and I love my team — my oncologist, my nurses — this is just the icing on the cake. This is the cherry, because they’re just wonderful people, and they do care. If I can hug every one of them, I do. I’m so appreciative and thankful for all of them here.”
And Stony Brook is appreciative and thankful for the donors who help make comprehensive patient-centered care possible.
“At Stony Brook, caring for patients goes far beyond just fighting disease,” said Dexter A. Bailey, senior vice president for University Advancement. “Our doctors, health professionals and the students of Stony Brook Medicine are motivated to exceed expectations. The Emily Power Foundation commitment to Stony Brook Medicine enables us to thrive in the face of adversity.”
The Emily Power Foundation’s contributions to patient advocacy programs at the Stony Brook Cancer Center are part of the $600 million Campaign for Stony Brook University, the largest in SUNY history. For more information visit stonybrook.edu/campaign.