A Labor of Love

Anthony Hunter

No one has spent more time at the new James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute than the construction workers who have labored to build the 21-floor building since ground was broken on the project on June 18, 2010.

They have laid the foundation, installed walls and ceilings, fitted massive HVAC and plumbing systems, and so much more. For many of the workers—especially those whose lives have been touched by cancer—this has been more than a typical job. It has been a meaningful labor of love that has enabled them to help make a difference in the fight against cancer.

Finding Cancer on the Job: Danny Arnold’s Story

Danny Arnold has been in the construction business for more than 20 years, so when his voice became hoarse while installing the metal frame, drywall and acoustic ceilings in the new James, he thought it was from hollering over the construction sounds.

When the hoarseness worsened, he saw his family doctor, who told him he had something on his vocal cords. It turned out to be stage one laryngeal cancer.

While waiting over a week for another medical office to process his referral to The James, Arnold recalled that David Schuller, MD, vice president of Wexner Medical Center Expansion and Outreach, had asked the workers to tell him if they or their families needed to be seen at The James. Arnold contacted Schuller, who quickly arranged for a consultation. Arnold was officially a patient of Amit Agrawal, MD, at The James two days later.

“They didn’t waste any time getting me in there,” says Arnold. “When you hear you have cancer, you don’t want to wait.” The diagnosis was especially stressful for Arnold and his family, given that his wife had recently completed treatment for breast cancer. Arnold and his wife are now both cancer-free.

“I look back on it and think I’ve been lucky,” says Arnold. He is proud of his work on the new James and the impact it will have on people’s lives. “This is a really, really huge job. And it’s going to save a lot of lives.”

In Memory of His Big Brother: Anthony Hunter’s Story

With his kind eyes and caring demeanor, one might think Anthony Hunter was handpicked to operate the elevator during construction of the new James.

In fact, it was sheer luck of the draw that gave Hunter elevator duty 23 months ago, enabling the many other workers, hospital administrators, donors and other visitors to the construction site to enjoy conversation with Hunter as they travel between floors.

“I meet everyone coming and going,” says Hunter. “I’ve shared my story with a lot of people who get on this elevator, and they’ve shared theirs with me. I’ve made a bunch of friends.”

When Hunter was a young man, he lost David, his older brother and friend, to leukemia. The hurt from that loss has stayed with him and drives him to do what he can to help end cancer. “When I started working here, it made me feel good, like I’m helping in my own little way so that other families don’t have to go through what we did,” says Hunter.

Dr. Schuller is one of the elevator passengers who heard Hunter’s story and empathized. “When I met Dr. Schuller, he was really passionate about my story,” says Hunter. “I’m just an elevator operator—a construction guy—but he seemed to really take my story to heart. He never forgot my name, my brother’s name or my story, and he told me that’s what this hospital is for.”