Jeanne Doepke: The mission for Cheerful Heart is one of service to our fellow man. As a cancer survivor I feel so lucky to have been born in this day and age to have access to advanced cancer treatments so that I feel well enough to want to give back in some way to my fellow cancer patients. Many members of the CH board are more involved in service than I, however, I still feel I am making a contribution and always hope to do more. At our board meetings we hear about the folks we serve and all the generous folks who contribute to this cause. Making a difference to a patient or caregiver who is involved in cancer treatment keeps me wanting to do more.
Valerie Lindstrom: I became a Cheerful Heart board member in 2003 and my husband, Art, and I both served as volunteers and board members. Art was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in 1997, and we felt giving back to cancer patients was important for us. Art felt good being able to share with others struggling with the diagnosis. It was our experience that folks find it difficult to talk with cancer patients and their families because they don’t know what to say. Listening and sharing with a cancer patient when they most need love and care is still one of the reasons why I stay involved with Cheerful Heart. Art passed away in August 2008 and I feel like I’m honoring him by continuing to connect with cancer patients.
Barbara Morin: I joined Cheerful Heart in 2008 as the Volunteer Coordinator and board member. Coming from a family with a history of cancer (father, mother and myself in 1985) helped create my passion to contribute to CH as best I can. Most rewarding are the friendships I have formed during my weekly visits to the oncology clinic. Knowing the cancer patients and staff has fulfilled and enriched my life in so many ways, and strengthened me for my most recent battle with cancer.
Sarah Teaff is the Chief Operating Officer at St. Luke Community Healthcare in Ronan. Sarah served as the Associate Administrator for a Critical Access Hospital in Sonora, Texas, before moving to Ronan two and a half years ago. Sarah is married to husband, Robert, and they have two children; Aiden is a senior in high school and Carlynn, a freshman.
In Sarah’s words: “Cancer has been in my life as long as I can remember. My maternal grandmother died of liver cancer in 1988. Six months later my paternal grandmother died of colon cancer. My father was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at the age of 55; he died at the age of 63.
Rich Forbis was born and raised in Western Montana. He attended the University of Montana, receiving a B.A. in Radio and Television. Rich moved to Polson in 1986. He worked for Anderson Radio Broadcasting until 2015. He currently is the Community Outreach Coordinator and Public Relations Director at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center. Rich is the tournament director for the Flathead Lake 3-on-3 basketball tournament held on the streets of downtown Polson each July. Rich has served on the Polson Chamber of Commerce board on three separate occasions. "Seeing what Cheerful Heart does every Tuesday during Oncology day at St. Joe's is very touching. From greeting cancer patients, to making sure they have items to eat or puzzles for families and friends to work while waiting, is truly a blessing."
Leah Emerson has deep roots in Ronan as an employee of St. Luke Community Hospital for the past 45 years! The first 19 years as a charge nurse, 25 years as the Nursing Director and since December, 2017, in a part-time capacity mostly teaching classes. Leah has a home-based quilting business and stays busy being involved in the activities of five grandchildren.
In Leah’s words: “As a nurse, of course, I have cared for countless individuals and their families who have battled cancer. Like so many others I have also been personally impacted when cancer has touched many of the ones I love the most. My youngest sister was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer at the age of 25 and I walked beside her for the next nearly 13 years as she underwent surgery, chemo-therapy and a stem cell transplant. She died at the age of 37. A cousin I was close to suffered with and died from pancreatic cancer. My mom was diagnosed with ductal breast cancer and was thankfully able to be fully treated with a mastectomy. Most recently my husband and life partner of 45 years was diagnosed with lung cancer two weeks after my retirement from my full time position at the hospital. His disease advanced very quickly and he died in less than two months.
Leah says of her involvement with Cheerful Heart, "it is a way to repay all those who touched my family members with care through the years"