“Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.”
That saying holds special meaning for Amelia Hall and soothes her heart.
In June 1960, at age 7, Amelia lost her mother, Elizabeth Raines Michon, who was only 40, to breast cancer. Amelia has a few black-and-white photos of her mother, and most of her memories from that time are of her mother’s illness.
“I remember her being in bed a lot when she was ill,” she says. “Back then, there really weren’t many options for cancer treatment. They didn’t have chemotherapy or radiation therapy as we know them today, although they did have a few medications, plus surgery. My mom had a double mastectomy, and she was given numerous experimental drugs in an attempt to treat her disease.”
Given those early childhood experiences, it’s not surprising that today Amelia has “an absolute passion,” as she puts it, for supporting cancer care and the Sentara RMH Hahn Cancer Center. She attributes that passion not only to her experience of growing up without her mother, but also to the fact that today physicians can do so much more to detect, diagnose and treat cancer.
Another motivating factor for Amelia is the toll she has seen cancer take in the lives of those around her. Amelia has worked for nearly 25 years as the business manager in her husband’s dental practice, David C. Hall DDS & Curtis G. Dean DDS, in Harrisonburg. Over the years, they have known several dentists and families whose lives have been devastated by cancer. One of those families was particularly close to the Halls.
Former Harrisonburg dentist Dr. George Lawson lost his battle with cancer in 2000. His children, Katie and Andrew, were 20 and 15, respectively, when their dad passed away.
“They weren’t as young as I was when my mother passed away, but I know it affected them deeply,” says Amelia. “Katie, Andrew and our children grew up together, and we’re still very close. Watching this family deal with the pain of losing their father and husband really touched my heart. And just recently we lost Dr. Joe Greene to cancer, which was a tragic loss to our regional dental community.”
The Halls are committed to making a difference through their support for the RMH Foundation and the Hahn Cancer Center.
Amelia believes telling the stories of people who have struggled with cancer is what touches people’s hearts and prompts them to take action. She also believes in the strength that comes when people join together to make a difference.
“I recently shared my story in a letter to the dental community,” she says. “My hope is that collectively we can make an impact, helping our friends and families, as well as those whose stories have touched our lives through our practices. If everyone does a small part, together we can make a huge difference.”
In addition to providing monetary support, Amelia now serves on the RMH Foundation Advisory Board, a group of local community members who oversee and direct the foundation’s
fundraising efforts and charitable giving. Amelia joined the advisory board late last year at the invitation of Cory Davies, the foundation’s executive director.
“I consider it a real honor to serve the RMH Foundation,” Amelia says. “As someone who has worked in a local dental practice for a quarter-century, I’m naturally interested in health care in general, and I think this foundation does an excellent job of raising money to support all aspects of care at the hospital. I had no idea how important the foundation’s work was until I joined. I’m hoping I can make a difference, too, by serving on the board.”
Reflecting on her own efforts to support cancer care, Amelia notes that there’s hardly a family or even an individual who hasn’t been touched by cancer in some way—either as a cancer patient or as the relative, friend or co-worker of someone battling the disease.
“My own story and the stories of others have really inspired me,” Amelia says. “When you’re so directly touched by something, you want to do something to help. It makes you more passionate about supporting the cause.”
Click here if you’d like to make a gift to support the Hahn Cancer Center