Dr. Ron and Ruth Siegle: Physician and Wife Support JamesCare for Life

During his career as a skin cancer surgeon, including seven years at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), Ron Siegle, MD, got to know a lot more about his patients than just their cancers or medical histories.

During the complex, sometimes hours-long Mohs operations he performed to remove their cancers, Ron’s patients were awake – under what he calls “talkesthesia.” This unique circumstance made it possible for Ron to form deep connections with his patients, as together they shared life stories and wisdom accumulated over the years.

“Traditionally, few physicians have had this kind of time with their patients,” says Ron. “I was always reminded that each patient was a human being. It wasn’t just the patient having surgery—it was their spouse, children, brothers, sisters, parents, etc. It reminded me that the procedure we are doing has a huge emotional impact on a large cadre of people.”

To provide a “train” that patients’ families and support systems can ride, too, the Siegles recently made a generous gift of $1 million that will augment existing programs in the JamesCare for Life program at the OSUCCC – James, and establish new ones that focus on the invisible heroes who support cancer patients and promote their recoveries. The Siegles’ gift, the first to support JamesCare for Life programming, will also support wellness and survivorship programs, including building a pavilion at Ohio State’s Waterman Farms that will connect cancer patients and survivors with fresh fruits and vegetables through the Garden of Hope. Felisha Lyons, MSW, LISW-S, director of JamesCare for Life, explained, “The Garden of Hope is a community garden for cancer patients and their caregivers. This two acre garden offers onsite gardening and nutrition education with dietitians, horticulture and agricultural students as well as features a wide variety of vegetables which are rotated throughout the gardening season.”

“We feel very blessed to have the Siegles’ gift. Their gift has been integral to the expansion and success of JamesCare for Life. Without their support and commitment to survivorship and wellness, many families might not get the level of education, resources and simple serenity that the garden brings to families. We already have plans underway to expand the reach of the garden this year to specifically include programming for children of cancer patients,” Lyons says.

Ron and Ruth’s personal gift follows another recent gift made to the OSUCCC – James by the 20 fellows Ron trained in Mohs surgical techniques during his career. In addition to surprising him with a party on Chicago’s Lake Michigan to celebrate his retirement, Ron’s former fellows, who now practice throughout the country, created a fund in his name at the OSUCCC – James to honor his mentorship. The Siegles were so moved by the gift that it inspired them to create their own fund at the OSUCCC – James.

“For years we had talked about giving back, and the gift from the fellows was the impetus for thinking about doing something on our own,” says Ruth. “With Ron retiring from his surgical practice and being so blessed to have cured so many people, we feel like this is a way for him to continue curing people well into the future.”

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