By Kim Meyer-Webb | Photography by Dero Sanford
This summer families are spending more time together as priorities have shifted to a safety and wellness focus, with consideration to the global pandemic. Natalie Rockefeller embraces their family’s extended stay at Greers Ferry Lake and recollects, “We love all the puzzles, gardening and dance parties. This time together is comforting and motivates me to be a strong mommy.” With a steadfast commitment to the health of all Arkansans, Natalie and Win Rockefeller serve as ardent ambassadors to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences – both serving an impressive tenure on the Board of Advisors. Their plans to host Gala for Life have evolved into the Be a Part of the Cure telethon. This inaugural event reflects nostalgia for the love of family and The Natural State as well as the UAMS mission: to improve the health and wellness of Arkansans and the world.
“We want to include ALL cancer patients, survivors and caregivers; and get our message out to the community,” Natalie explains. Broadcast from KATV-Channel 7, the telecast will feature Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute doctors and researchers as well as patient success stories + testimonials – encouraging Arkansans in 37 counties to call into the station to Be a Part of the Cure. “We will remind this broader audience that you don’t need to leave the state to get comprehensive cancer treatment and excellent care. You can stay right here in Arkansas, near family and loved ones, throughout the complete diagnosis,” Natalie elaborates. UAMS Vice Chancellor, Office of Communications & Marketing Leslie Taylor adds, “We are extremely grateful to Natalie and Win for their continued support and leadership on the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Board of Advisors. Be a Part of the Cure is exciting because it will not only provide funding to help our patients, but will allow us to share the story of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and the life-saving work that happens every day.”
The Rockefeller’s devotion to UAMS is unwavering. When the twins were born eight weeks early and admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Natalie remembers feeling gratitude. “We watched as the nurses and doctors monitored every aspect of their health for 51 days. There were times when the nurses would comfort us – because, as a parent, you don’t expect someone else to take care of your babies when they are born. We never doubted the excellent and loving care our boys received. We are still friends with some of the nurses, seven years later.”
Under the leadership of Chancellor Cam Patterson, UAMS is comprised of a world-class team of experts that inspire patients to believe in the potential of UAMS as a premier center for healthcare. His vision for UAMS WPRCI to be the first NCI-designated center in Arkansas continues. The National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Center Program is one of the pillars of the nation’s cancer research initiative. “After the passing of my father, a founding board member of the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, I saw the importance of a first-rate cancer research center in Arkansas. I was given the opportunity to serve on the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Foundation Board of Advisors and quickly saw the magnitude of medical expertise available combined with compassionate care for cancer patients. This designation accelerates opportunities and potential for recruiting the nation’s top cancer doctors as well as scientific collaborations and partnerships,” Win explains.
Designated cancer centers are recognized for exceptional scientific leadership, resources and research. Leslie notes, “Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Director Dr. Birrer has recruited several funded researchers as well as cancer physicians in pursuit of this objective. Achieving NCI-designation is very important to UAMS, but it’s most important because of what it will mean to the 3 million people who live in Arkansas.”
Like so many families, Natalie experienced the devastating effects of cancer when her grandfather received treatment at Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. “I was grateful to be able to sit with him and have that time together,” she remembers. A beacon for innovative technology and medical exploration, WPRCI keeps families together during times of great peril – when loved ones are fighting for wellness + life.
KATV – Channel 7 | 11:30 am-6:30 pm | Text WPRCI 41444 | 501.324.7888