In 2007, Lynn Stahl, ThriveWell Board Member, got a phone call from Dr. Amy Lang, who told her about her plans to create the Diva program and expand it to include Patient Assistance, since there were so many cancer patients in San Antonio who couldn’t afford the copay nor even the transportation to their appointments.
In addition, there were several local research possibilities that needed funding, so all combined, Dr. Lang wanted to start a cancer organization to meet these unique San Antonio needs. She asked Lynn to consider becoming the first president of this about-to-be created, still nameless organization. Lynn responded that she had never been president of anything. However Dr. Lang persuaded her to give it a try, and so after creating the formal structure, naming it ThriveWell and finding other board members (Amy Oefinger was the third one of the original core team), ThriveWell became a reality.
Tell us about yourself
I was born almost 75 years ago in Chicago, but was raised with my younger sister in Ishpeming, Michigan, a town of 8,000 people in the Upper Peninsula. After graduating from the University of Michigan and receiving my Master’s from Stanford University in speech pathology, I married Sam, who was in his last year at rabbinical school.
What gives you the most satisfaction from working with ThriveWell?
I love receiving the feedback from those patients who have been able to make huge changes in their diet and exercise practice, so that they are literally reducing the possibility of cancer recurrence, while also helping their emotional well-being. The stories of those whom we helped so that they did NOT have to choose between meeting basic needs and getting to their appointments or stopping their treatments, profoundly touch my heart. How fortunate that my husband and our two daughters never had to make these choices, as they were each dealing with their cancer challenges. And, of course, the idea that ThriveWell has been able to nourish the seeds of the potentially cancer-eradicating treatments with the research that is being done here in San Antonio is so encouraging.
Who uses ThriveWell’s services and what help do they receive?
ThriveWell is helping anyone in San Antonio who is dealing with cancer and would like to participate in a wide variety of workout classes and learn more about healthy nutrition. Research continues to underscore findings that those who have cancer and increase their exercise and adopt healthy eating practices greatly reduce the likelihood of cancer recurrence. Patients are often financially challenged by their cancer diagnosis, not just because they don’t have enough insurance or have lower salaries. They also may have to make enormous changes in their careers, while dealing with their treatment or no longer can afford car or basic living payments. All of these patients receive our aid. The stories that we have heard about people who can’t afford the transportation to get to their appointments or those who are working full-time and yet need help with the co-pays or paying the electric bill are heart-breaking. When we can assist with these issues and hopefully remove a bit of the added burden and angst of these who are slammed with the ominous diagnosis of cancer, we ARE making a difference. Finally, we are grateful to be able to help jump start local researchers whose findings may possibly reveal phenomenal treatment or even prevention of cancer somewhere in our near future.
In your opinion, what else can be done on a national scale to better help cancer patients get the care and support they need?
We definitely need a far better health care system. I believe that the growing disparity between the haves and have-nots in a country that has such wealth, is absolutely horrific. Those of us that have been fortunate enough not to worry about paying our bills and also getting the necessary treatment for our health challenges owe it to those who are less fortunate to close this gap, with universal health care for all of our citizens.
Have you or any of your family members been affected by cancer?
My husband has had prostate and bladder cancer; our younger daughter, at 34, had breast cancer; and our older daughter at 45, had kidney cancer! Thankfully they are all thriving at this time! My sister had breast cancer 26 years ago!
What other organizations do you work with?
I am on the board of Opera San Antonio and active with the San Antonio Jewish Federation. I have also been working in several political campaigns and registering eligible high school students to vote.
What do you like to do in your down time?
I love to walk, read, and connect with friends, either in person, on the phone or even via email. In addition I adore live theater, opera, concerts and movies. We both cherish traveling! I had been working out regularly with body pump, Zumba and step classes, until just recently. Now, however, my almost 75-year-old body revealed some structural challenges, so I am now only walking.
What’s the last movie you saw? How many stars of out 10?
“Disobedience” 8 stars
Do you have any plans for the summer?
We spend each summer in western New York at the Chautauqua Institution, which I call “adult brain and soul” camp! Each day we feast on stimulating lectures, superb performances of the resident ballet, opera, theater or the symphony. The interfaith atmosphere encourages remarkable dialogue and we feel totally enriched and nourished upon our return at the end of August!
Thought/Prayer or Quote that makes you happy?
“Be yourself! Be different! Everyone else is taken!”
“Gratitude…to be present in the appreciation of life’s abundance and to share that light with others.”
Stahl family trip to Israel