|Spring 2010-Advisory Board Profile|
Satisfying. Exciting. Gratifying.
This is how Dana Davis sums up her experience as a member of the Advisory Board of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. She joined the board in 1991 and has been an active and vital member ever since.
Mrs. Davis grew up in the small town of Odenville in St. Clair County in a family touched by cancer. “I lost two aunts to breast cancer and my grandfather to colon cancer,” she says. “It seemed like someone was sick during my entire childhood.”
Mrs. Davis eventually left Odenville to attend the University of Alabama, where she received a bachelor’s degree in education. There she met not only her future husband, Tony Davis, but also a couple who would become lifelong friends—Jim and Ann Hayes. Jim Hayes eventually would persuade Mrs. Davis to join the Advisory Board.
“Jim called me one day and asked me to join, and nobody turned down Jim Hayes,” Mrs. Davis recalls. “I had gotten my master’s degree at UAB, so I was interested in what was going on there. And considering my family history, it was time for me to face up to cancer.”
A Patient’s Friend
Upon joining the Advisory Board, Mrs. Davis immediately became involved with the Patient and Family Services Committee, which provides amenities and support for Cancer Center patients and their families. “Dealing directly with patients is what I love,” she says. “Patients are what the Cancer Center is all about.”
It’s something she knows from personal experience. Mrs. Davis’s mother was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2003 and treated by Cancer Center scientist William Carroll, M.D. “My mother just adored Dr. Carroll. He and his whole team were excellent. I was in awe of the special care and treatment we received.”
Mrs. Davis has served on the Patient and Family Services Committee since she joined the Advisory Board; in 2009, she became committee chair. “It’s been exciting to see the committee grow through the years,” Mrs. Davis says. “It’s been a privilege working with people like [charter board members] Rita Kimerling, Kitty Robinson, Lella Bromberg and Georgia Cosmas. They have such enormous hearts and have done so much for patients at the Cancer Center.”
The Patient and Family Services Committee provides coffee, juice and snacks for patients in the Cancer Center’s various clinics. The committee also furnishes a day room for patients and their families on the ninth floor of UAB Hospital and owns and operates seven apartment units nearby for out-of-town patients. “The committee does a lot of great work that many people don’t see,” Mrs. Davis says. “We want to expand further and offer our services to more patients and more clinics. Anyone dealing or working with cancer patients at UAB has a friend in our committee.”
Drumming Up Support
In addition to her Advisory Board role, Mrs. Davis is active in several other civic organizations, particularly the Junior League. A self-taught drummer (“I taught myself because there was nothing else to do in Odenville,” she says), she belongs to the Junior League Choral Group. The group has performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall and in Vienna, but they often play in Birmingham-area nursing homes and hospitals. Mrs. Davis and some of her choral group friends also created a spin-off satirical all-female group called the Countraband. Over 12 years, they raised more than $450,000 for children’s charities. “It was a lot of fun,” she says. “I’d just grab my drums and go.”
Family also is important to Mrs. Davis. She and her husband will soon celebrate 32 years of marriage. They are the parents of Will, a Birmingham lawyer, and Blair, a teacher in Nashville.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Davis sees growth opportunities for the Patient and Family Services Committee, including providing volunteers to guide first-day patients, giving information to newly diagnosed patients and helping patients with post-treatment follow-up questions. The committee also is partnering with the Cancer Center’s Young Supporters Board to sponsor monthly activities for patients. The first of these outings, held at Halloween and Christmas, were resounding successes for both patients and volunteers.
Mrs. Davis says these plans are just the beginning. “We’re going to provide even more opportunities to be hands-on with patients,” she says. “I think the sky’s the limit.”