Spotlight on Kathy Beechman, Brain Tumor Center Community Advisory Board Chair

People pose for photo

Pete Nadherny, left, and Kathy Beechem in a favorite photo.

Kathy Beechem became involved in the mission to eradicate brain cancer the way many people do — by fate rather than choice.

Ms. Beechem’s late husband, Pete Nadherny, was 60 years old and going full throttle in his executive search business when he started having trouble remembering names. It was a kind of forgetting that didn’t feel like normal aging. Mr. Nadherny’s instincts were correct, and a full body scan revealed a brain tumor. His diagnosis in December 2005 began a journey that, for Ms. Beechem, continues today.

Ms. Beechem, who joined the UC Brain Tumor Center’s Community Advisory Board in 2009 and now serves as its chair, brings considerable leadership skills to the position. She was Executive Vice President of Metropolitan Banking for U.S. Bancorp, managing its retail branch system throughout the United States, before retiring to help her husband battle his disease. She was a YWCA Career Woman of Achievement in 2002.

“Our role on the Brain Tumor Center’s Community Advisory Board is to support the center through development, fundraising activities, and advertising and marketing,” Ms. Beechem says. “We also support the staff through professional and technical expertise, and we focus on patient education and caregiving. So far everyone on the board has been connected to brain tumors in some way, so there’s a lot of passion around the subject.”   Following his initial scan, Mr. Nadherny was referred to Ronald Warnick, MD, Director of the Brain Tumor Center and Chairman of the Mayfield Clinic. Doctor and patient recognized each other immediately: they were part of the same Leadership Cincinnati program. Dr. Warnick diagnosed the brain tumor – a grade IV glioblastoma multiforme – and made the unusual decision to refer Mr. Nadherny to the Cleveland Clinic, where two openings remained in a national phase III clinical trial for which he was ideally suited.

Mr. Nadherny entered the trial, the tumor was removed and, over a period of 96 hours, four catheters were used to bathe the tumor cavity with Interleukin-13 (IL 13), a recombinant protein that targets and kills tumor cells that express the IL 13 receptor.

As in so many patients, Mr. Nadherny’s glioblastoma proved too formidable a foe. Twenty-five months after his diagnosis, Mr. Nadherny succumbed to the tumor. But Ms. Beechem continues the quest to find answers and to help others who find themselves walking the same difficult path.

“I’m writing a book about the journey and am close to being done,” she says. “I wanted to capture Pete’s legacy. Also, I learned a lot about brain tumors because of Pete. There are numerous medical guides available, but few offerings for caregivers.”

Ms. Beechem’s book is called So Far So Good, the expression Pete used when friends asked him how he was doing.

Ms. Beechem, who is Chair of the YWCA’s Board of Directors and a co-founder of the United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council, also launched an eight-week grief support group at her church, Crossroads. The support group will repeat later this spring.

She notes three important Brain Tumor Center events:

  • a wine-tasting fundraiser, 6 p.m. Thursday, April 29, at UC’s CARE/Crawley Building
  • the 2010 Midwest Regional Brain Tumor Conference for patients and caregivers on Saturday, June 26
  • a fundraising walk in the fall

Dr. Warnick is deeply appreciative of Ms. Beechem’s service in the role of Chair of the Brain Tumor Center’s Community Advisory Board. “We are honored to have an individual of Kathy’s ability and stature on our team,” Dr. Warnick says. “Her leadership will enhance our quest to improve treatments for people like her husband, Pete, whose life was unfairly cut short by a brain tumor.”

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