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Donors Support Breast Cancer Research

Giving with Gratitude and Hope

May 6, 2009

Throughout 45 years of living and working in Vermont, raising three children, and pursuing dual careers in health care, Kay Ryder and Richard Ryder, MD, have been joiners, doers, and givers. "We both believe you have to be interested in your community and try to work actively," says Kay.

Kay and Richard

Kay and Richard Ryder, MD
(Photo courtesy Kay and Richard Ryder, MD)

Indeed, Kay Ryder's professional contributions as an advocate for nonprofit home healthcare organizations in Vermont and the people they serve, and her many volunteer leadership roles, earned her the YWCA of Vermont's Susan B. Anthony Award in 2002, a prestigious honor that recognizes women who have made a difference in their community, state, and country.

But there is one community she never imagined being a part of. "I never expected I would have breast cancer," she says. "Suddenly you're part of a club you never wanted to join. There are so many brave and fine people in that club, and we're willing to help each other. You don't forget that you're a cancer survivor."

The Shelburne, VT, couple has also not forgotten the superb care Kay received from her oncologist at Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Dr. Peter Kaufman, and from many others at DHMC. "I've always been impressed with the dedication of the employees. It's as people-friendly a place as a hospital can be for patients and families," notes Richard, whose medical career has spanned internal and occupational medicine, teaching, and a year as President of the Vermont Medical Society.

It's Kay's experience as a patient that has inspired the Ryders to make a number of generous gifts to DHMC and the Cancer Center, including their most recent gift in support of Kaufman's breast cancer research.

"We can't say enough good things about Peter," says Kay. "I have come to know him as a doctor and a friend. Chemotherapy is rotten stuff-there's not much question about that. But he was very, very helpful. He's a very earnest, thorough, modest, and likeable man. He's really been a very integral part of my life for the last 18 years. Whatever we have done for Dartmouth-Hitchcock has been because of Peter Kaufman and the care that I received at the hospital."

But for the Ryders, philanthropy is more than a way to express appreciation; it is also a means to advance translational research in cancer. "You have to look to the future," says Kay. "We have two daughters and a granddaughter. So we do this hoping that you learn from every drug that's developed and every research project that goes on. I think doctors like Peter Kaufman, who do research and care for patients, are really motivated to bring basic research along the line faster, to get it to people who need it earlier. That's what I'm hoping for-that down the line things are coming along constantly to help other women, and save more lives."

"I think it's money well-spent. It's money spent on research and people, and you can't do better than that."

-Reprinted from Skylight (Winter 2009; Volume 8, Number 1), the newsletter for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.