A "social investment" in the future of cancer research and patient care

Patti Keenan

Patti Keenan

Giving back is important to Patti Keenan and her family. For Patti, it is an "honor and a privilege" to give to a cause close to her heart, and she and her husband, Matt, want their three children to feel the same way about making an impact through giving.

A three-time cancer survivor, Patti decided that designating a portion of her life insurance policy to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund was the best way for her family to give back to the place where she was treated as a child and again in 2003.

"It's important to me to make an annual gift and make a larger gift through my life insurance to Dana-Farber," said Patti.

After an accident at home sent 5-year-old Patti to the hospital for stitches, a neurofibrosarcoma was discovered on her chest. She had surgery to remove the tumor and her right pectoral muscle at the Children's Cancer Research Foundation, which was founded by Sidney Farber, MD, and later became Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This mastectomy was radical for a child and was typically only performed on breast cancer patients.

"I wouldn't be alive without the hospital's willingness and capacity to try experimental treatments," said Patti.

Patti's cancer returned a few years later, and she received treatment and additional surgeries throughout childhood. She was cancer-free until 2003, when she was diagnosed with dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, a rare soft tissue tumor. She again underwent surgery and treatment at Dana-Farber, and was impressed by the collaborative care of her medical team. Dana-Farber still had some of her pathology records from her initial diagnosis in 1965, which included notes from Dr. Farber, who treated Patti.

Because her childhood cancer had been so serious, Patti had a yearning to do something more for Dana-Farber even before her diagnosis as an adult. After she recovered, that desire was even greater, and Patti named Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund as a beneficiary of her employer-provided life insurance policy.

"This was the simplest action to take," said Patti, noting that she filled out a form through her employer's human resources department and no attorney involvement was necessary. "You don't have to be rich to do this—it's not only for wealthy people."

Designating a specific percentage of her life insurance policy to Dana-Farber ensures that Patti and Matt's children will be taken care of, while they also benefit from the example of giving back.

"Cancer has been a part of their lives and so has philanthropy," she said. "Everyone has a role to play and it's empowering to make a social investment."

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