Local Stories of Hope for the Holidays

Published on 30 November -1 in News
Tampa Bay News & Lifestyles (author)

Tampa Bay News & Lifestyles


During the holidays, many people draw family close and consider the things that are most important in life. This season, stories from two Tampa Bay area cancer patients help illustrate how family can inspire us, help us grow and even help us heal.

Dave Norris and his wife, Bobbi, were flying more than a thousand miles one way to get treatment for his stomach cancer. During his career, Dave joked that his office was seat 2B on a jet plane. He never minded traveling for business, but when his trips were taking him far from home for cancer treatment, the flights became a nightmare. Dave dreaded always knowing another trip for more treatment was only a couple of weeks away. Dave’s body was already under a great deal of strain from the cancer treatment and Bobbi could see the added stress that travel was layering on her husband.

Dave Norris

Dave Norris

When Bobbi started looking for cancer treatment options closer to home, she found a Florida Cancer Specialists office only a few miles from their Lakewood Ranch neighborhood. They started visiting the local cancer center as Dave moved into the knockout round of his treatment. The difference he felt was instant. The staff and Dave’s new physician at Florida Cancer Specialists treated Dave and Bobbi like family, which was a radical departure from what they had experienced at the cancer center states away. 

Dave was grateful that Bobbi intervened when she saw an opportunity for him to have better cancer care. When he finished his treatment, Dave experienced an intense desire to make a difference with the next chapter of his life. He knew he wanted to make an impact on the lives of people battling cancer, but it was Bobbi who knew how he could do it.

As a caregiver, Bobbi felt powerless in helping Dave heal. The only way she found she could make an impact on Dave’s treatment was to bring him a warm blanket during his chemotherapy sessions. Oncology offices are cold places. Chemotherapy often involves pumping icy fluid through the body, making the patient cold to the core. Dave also lost a great deal of weight during stomach cancer treatment, so the cold felt especially brutal for him. 

When Bobbi saw him like that, she would get a warm blanket from a huge blanket oven at the cancer center and wrap Dave up. When Dave said he wanted to make a difference in the lives of other cancer patients, she knew that a warm blanket was a great way to make that happen. The couple adjusted their family’s foundation to focus on buying blanket warmers for the more than 50 Florida Cancer Specialists offices across the state.

“You can touch a lot of lives with a warm blanket,” Dave likes to say. 

Dave leaned on Bobbi to help him find an oncologist where he could get live-saving care at home and then he leaned on her again to help him focus his generous spirit. The couple’s Make A Difference Today Foundation has already started to fulfill their mission, providing blanket warmers in Florida Cancer Specialists offices in Gainesville and Lakewood Ranch, providing comfort to thousands of patients just like Dave.

Just down the road from Dave and Bobbi in Sarasota, Pamela Klein and her family went through a cancer journey of their own. 

Pamela’s love of tennis is actually what led her to discover her cancer diagnosis. She and her husband, Brent, frequently went to their local tennis court for a game of doubles with their friends. When Pamela began to feel severely out of breath during her matches, she knew something was wrong.

At first, Pamela thought the shortness of breath was just from some lung congestion. But it continued to get worse until she could only play tennis for a short while before being completely out of breath.

When Pamela’s doctors told her that she had a rare form of lung cancer and gene mutation, people encouraged her to go out of state to a world-renowned cancer treatment center far away. But when Pamela thought about spending nights in hotel rooms with her two teenage boys back home, she knew that just wasn’t an option. Her desire to stay close to home led her to a nearby Florida Cancer Specialists office where they had a clinical trial specific to Pamela’s gene mutation. 

Pamela Klein

Pamela Klein

Pamela began treatment at Florida Cancer Specialists and since she was only gone for an hour or two, she could still be home in time for dinner with her family. Best of all, she was participating in a clinical trial to treat her very rare form of cancer.

In 2016, 84 percent of the cancer drugs approved for use in the U.S. were studied in clinical trials at Florida Cancer Specialists prior to approval. Within months of her targeted treatment, Pamela’s health dramatically improved. Her desire to stay close to her husband and sons led Pamela to a Florida Cancer Specialists office that offered exactly what she needed.

“I can definitively say that it is the actions of my doctor at Florida Cancer Specialists and the fact that they offer clinical trials for patients like me with rare gene mutations; that’s the reason I am here,” she says.

Every cancer patient needs the support of family and friends during treatment and these two stories shine a light on the many ways that support can help lift a patient up.

To hear more of Dave and Pamela’s stories or to hear even more stories of hope, you can visit FindHopeHere.com.


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