Hospital gets donation to help patients navigate cancer

Tom and Teresa Walsh, of Leawood, Kan., have made a $2.5 million gift for the Walsh Family Foundation Patient Navigation Fund at The University of Kansas Hospital. In 2011, the Walshes made a $2 million gift to KU Endowment; of that, $1 million established the patient navigation fund for The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

People starting cancer treatment will have guides to help them thanks to a $2.5 million gift to the University of Kansas Cancer Center.

The money will pay for five new nurse navigators from the University of Kansas Hospital.

Tom and Teresa Walsh of Leawood donated the money for the workers who will guide patients through appointments, tests, treatments and follow-up, and provide emotional support.

The hospital announced the gift on Monday, and said each navigator will specialize in a particular type of cancer.

The guides did not exist years ago when Teresa’s father was diagnosed with cancer and moved from rural Oklahoma for treatment at the University of Kansas Hospital.

The navigation program connects the patient to the doctors and the cancer center, said Teresa Walsh. “You have somebody with you to hold your hand, helping you along the way. There are so many questions and you’re so scared in the beginning.”
Dr. Terry Tsue, physician-in-chief at the center, said, “Navigators are cancer patients’ link to information they might have missed, questions they forgot to ask and services they didn’t know existed.”

Tom Walsh is an entrepreneur with a 1980 business administration degree from KU. Teresa Walsh co-founded Silpada Designs jewelry in Lenexa, a company later purchased by Avon.

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