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Following her cancer diagnosis, advocacy for cancer research at Massey becomes personal for long-time supporter Anne Boevé

Anne and Roger Boevé

Considering Anne Boevé spent her career working in the airline industry, it comes as no surprise that she is passionate about traveling. With plans to visit Iceland and then spend several weeks in England this summer, she and husband Roger always have an adventure on the calendar. Despite their passion for exploring destinations all around the globe, there are a few things that can keep them grounded in Richmond, and VCU Massey Cancer Center is near the top of their list.

The Boevés moved to Richmond in 1995 and have loved watching it evolve into a nationally recognized foodie city that boasts friendly people and great weather. Having an NCI-designated cancer center in their backyard is a bonus, too, and they’ve also enjoyed watching Massey evolve and expand.

In 1997, two years after the Boevés made Richmond their home, Gordon Ginder, M.D., arrived, taking the helm of the cancer center as its new director. Impressed by his ambitious goals for Massey and remarkable humility, the Boevés became fast friends with Ginder, and they began their efforts to advance cancer research by contributing to Massey’s annual fund.

Anne’s relationship with the cancer center took the first of several life-changing turns when one of her friends developed breast cancer in 1998. Anne and her friend grew particularly close toward the end of her disease, and she gave Anne some parting advice: “If you ever get the opportunity to serve on Massey’s Advisory Board, you should do it.” 

Shortly after Anne’s friend passed away, Anne was invited to do just that by Adrienne Maxwell, a long-time Massey supporter and board member. Anne did not hesitate to say yes, and her board involvement quickly elevated her already deep affinity for the cancer center. “I feel so blessed to have been privy to so much information,” Anne said. “Hearing Gordon present about what he was doing and hearing about the amazing advancements in cancer research at Massey inspired me to be a stronger community advocate.”

Despite Anne and Roger’s involvement with Massey and their burgeoning knowledge of cancer research, nothing could prepare them for their next life-changing experience. In 2006, Anne was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a type of cancer in the bone marrow and blood that results in too many white blood cells. Upon learning that she has cancer, they called Ginder. In addition to being the director of Massey, Ginder is also a physician-researcher who specializes in blood cancers, and he soon became Anne’s doctor.

“I love his bedside manner,” Anne said. “He is full of hope, which is the best gift you can give someone with a cancer diagnosis.” 

While Anne has not yet needed treatment for CLL, Ginder monitors her case closely and is always just a phone call away. “He is always available when I need him,” remarked Anne. “I’ve always felt comfortable calling him. He never makes me feel like he’s too busy. He’s encouraging, and he always takes the time to listen to me.” 

Anne is grateful for not only the excellent care she receives at Massey but also the peace of mind she has knowing researchers are hard at work discovering and developing more effective methods of treating cancer, bringing new hope to her and patients everywhere. 

To express their gratitude to Massey, the Boevés recently made a generous gift to the Gordon Ginder Research Excellence Fund. Ginder is stepping down from his position as director to prioritize his work as a physician-researcher, and this new fund will be dedicated to supporting his research in hematologic cancers. Of course, for Anne and Roger, their gift goes beyond being a tribute to Ginder’s excellent clinical care and innovative research. “His work could save my life,” Anne said. “I’m investing in my own future and that of future generations. I believe Gordon’s work could lead to new treatments.”

Anne’s generosity in supporting cancer research may be inspired by her personal experiences and gratitude as a patient, but she has always considered giving back one of her core values. “My parents were very philanthropic,” she explained. “And I can’t think of a better place to give back than Massey. Cancer affects all of us, and we are so fortunate to have a top cancer center here with so many talented and dedicated doctors.”

In addition to philanthropy, Anne is adamant about the need for advocacy, too. She served on the advisory board for six years, and Roger is currently an advisory board member with Massey. He serves on the MCV Foundation Leadership Council as a former trustee, and they are both champions in sharing Massey’s mission to an ever-expanding audience. Anne approaches her advocacy role with the same tenacity she approaches advocating for her own health, and her deep gratitude toward Massey stems, in part, from the overlap she sees between the two, cancer patient or not.

“We all need to take a serious look at this. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we need to win this war,” she explained. “Roger and I recently attended a dinner party. Including us, there were eight people there, and four of us had cancer.” Anne’s experience sheds light on what has become the norm for so many people. “I know so many cancer survivors and people we have lost to cancer. We have to work to be a part of the solution by being our own advocates.”

“I think it would be wonderful if most cancers could be cured in five years,” Anne continued. “Our emphasis has to be on getting the word out about getting proper screenings on time, and we should take advantage of the wonderful facilities we have here. There is no better place to go than Massey. The greatest gift I can give to my friends is to introduce them to the innovative and important work being done at Massey.”

Anne hopes more Richmond residents will seek care close to home and will help support the innovative research at Massey. In addition to the cancer care she receives under Ginder’s supervision, having access to a cancer center that is close to her daughter, husband and supportive network of friends has made her experience easier. “The last thing you want to do when you have cancer is leave your support system,” Anne explained. “We have an NCI-designated cancer center right here in our own town, and I am incredibly grateful.”

If you would like to join the Boevés by donating to VCU Massey Cancer Center, please contact the development office at (804) 828-1450, or email teammassey@vcu.edu. You may also contact the development office to learn more about additional ways to support cancer research or you may make your gift online today

Written by: Massey Communications Office

Posted on: July 29, 2019