Leah’s Legacy

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The late Leah Davidson, while undergoing cancer treatment, with her husband, Jeff

Just because Leah Davidson died Dec. 4, don’t think she’s stopped caring for her fellow cancer patients. And just because his lovely Leah left him, don’t think her husband, Jeff, has given up his role as caregiver.

Leah, a vibrant young grandmother, and Jeff, a successful CPA, were sweethearts since high school. On the surface, the Birmingham couple seemed to have everything going for them. But the depth of Leah’s 11-year struggle to survive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — including two stem-cell transplants — was something more readily comprehendible to her fellow support group members at the Karmanos Cancer Institute’s Weisberg Treatment Center on Northwestern Highway in Farmington Hills.

Leah should know. She started the support group 10 years ago.

“We had just opened the Weisberg Center,” said oncology social worker Kathleen Hardy, “and Leah walked into my office and said, ‘We have to start a group for women like me who have chronic cancers.’

Leah was beaming at her daughter Janna's wedding in 2008.

“Leah did all the legwork — getting the group members together, and I facilitated the discussions,” said Hardy.

Leah soon discovered the importance of stress reduction to cancer patients like her. On her own initiative, she instituted “complementary therapies” — non-medical techniques that soothed and relaxed overwhelmed and suffering cancer patients.

She learned, and eventually taught, meditation, guided imagery (using one’s imagination to reduce stress) and reiki (a healing energy force believed to emanate from the hands).

“Leah has been a tremendous voluntary force here,” said Hardy. “I don’t think we would have all the group programs without her. And we’ve never had the financing for a complementary therapy program until Leah volunteered to set one up.

Social worker Kathleen Hardy

“When Leah knew she was going to die,” said Hardy, “she wanted to do something to help future cancer patients discover these non-medical techniques to help them cope.”

And in the weeks since Leah died, Jeff has been working hard to perpetuate her programs by establishing the Leah A. Davidson Fund at Karmanos. So far, it has received more than 130 donations, and he has contributed a significant amount himself. But the fund still has a substantial way to go to reach its goal of $150,000.

“I’m hoping to get the fund to a level where it would be self-sustaining and permanent,” he said.

Anyone wishing to contribute can go to the Karmanos website,
www.karmanos.org/giftofhope. Specify the “Leah A. Davidson Fund” in the box titled “Special Instructions.”

In addition, checks may be sent to the Karmanos Cancer Institute, Leah A. Davidson Fund-Code VE01Fs, 4100 John R, Detroit, MI 48201.

For information, call 1-800-KARMANOS.

Cancer patients who are interested in supportive services at the Weisberg Center, can contact Kathleen Hardy at (248) 538-4712 or hardyk@karmanos.org.

By David Sachs|Senior Copy Editor

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