Meade Family: A Proud Son Honors His Mother’s Special Legacy of Caring
Shawn Meade always knew that his mother, Connie, was special—from his childhood years when she would feed him dinner and then leave to care for patients as a nurse on the night shift at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), to his adulthood when she and his father, Phillip, moved to Georgia to be closer to Meade and his growing family.
In 1990, an essay Connie published on the challenges that patients face at night and the unique role night nurses play in easing patients’ burdens drew the attention of the CBS Sunday Morning show, which profiled Connie and her work at the OSUCCC – James.
But it wasn’t until Connie died in October 2014 following a lengthy illness with breast cancer that Meade fully understood the impact his mother had on the bone marrow transplant patients she served, first at The James and later with Northside Hospital in Atlanta.
“I got all these letters and emails from former patients when she passed away,” says Meade. “She formed friendships with her patients.”
One man wrote that his wife had become so close with Connie during her time at The James that when his wife’s stem cells were to be put back into her system, they requested that Connie be the one to do it.
“She told my wife on that day, when she started the procedure, that this was going to be her new birthday,” the man wrote. He and his wife were stunned when, one year later, Connie showed up at their doorstep with a birthday cake bearing a single candle. She had made the hour-and-a-half trip from Columbus to their home in southern Ohio to mark the occasion. “I’m sure you were proud of your mother,” the man continued, “and I hope this letter will give you one more reason to be proud of her.”
Indeed, Meade is enormously proud, and to help sustain her legacy, he has created the Connie Meade Patient Advocacy Fund in Bone Marrow Transplant at The James. He suggested starting the fund to his mother during the last weeks of her life, and the woman who had regularly dug in her own pockets to provide gas or hotel money to financially struggling patients wholeheartedly approved.
Meade, a financial planner with his own firm, also views the fund as a way to eventually get his children, now 10 and 8, involved in philanthropy. “There’s no better way to do that than in my mother’s memory.”