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Jane Gardner: A Tribute to A Courageous "Healthcare Hero"

Posted by Joe Antle on July 19, 2020 11:15 AM EDT
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Throughout my three-decades-long career in the newspaper business with two of the three largest media companies headquartered in Virginia, I took great pride in.....

....working for companies that played a very important role in their communities.  While my role was on the advertising sales, creation, and production side of the "house", the importance of great journalism, insight, and offering of unbiased suggestions for solutions to problems that vexed the communities our newspapers served as a great source of pride for me.

The fact that throughout this period of time, these companies produced outstanding business services, strong financial returns and allowed many people like me to exceed our career aspirations and feel we helped make a difference only made my pride that much greater.  In truth, in the last decade I have been greatly disappointed not just by the economic demise of the once remarkably strong industry but by the seemingly endless decline in journalism in general.  Cable news is not news and the overwhelming amount of content presented by bloggers (folks like me) and "friends", "connections" and "personal networks" including "trolls" has made it almost impossible to fully understand truth.

Despite that, on occasion, journalism of the highest quality finds its way through the muddling crowd of drivel.  Today, for me, was one of those days.

You see throughout my career, especially my time in Virginia, there were many great journalists.  And in recent years, given the focus on innovation and how it can help improve the lives and well-being of people as it relates to their careers, finances, social lives, community service and physical/spiritual health, the need for great journalism and truth in story-telling has never been greater.  And that is why I was moved today by the fantastic account of Jane Gardner's passing and her two-decades battle with four different cancers.  The story of Ms. Garder's passing was told in the Sunday, July 19th edition of The Virginian-Pilot, and was told by the same outstanding journalist, Elizabeth Simpson Earley.  Ms. Early is no longer employed as a full-time healthcare writer for the paper, but her work in publishing an ongoing fully open account of Jane Gardner's battles with cancer was riveting and important.  For years.  And years.

You see, Jane Gardner was a fantastically successful broadcast journalist.  She was the first female anchor in the southeast Virginia region's ADI.  And after her highly successful career in broadcasting, she became a healthcare expert working with EVMS.  She continued to serve the public in this way even after fully retiring to battle cancer.  As Elizabeth Simpson Earley so carefully recorded throughout the many long-form articles she published, and even to her tribute published in today's newspaper, Jane Gardner provided the public a full glimpse of her battles.  Her courage against mounting odds and her persistence to follow all medical procedures that might work made for great journalism.  And when told by a great journalist, a great journalist's deeply private odyssey became a record of why fighting is a key aspect of the medical care formula for success.  While despite her integrity, great fighting spirit, and courage, Jane Gardner lost her battle against multiple cancers, she served as a remarkable model for why fighting is so important. Until highly reliable therapeutics for cancers are found and there becomes a cure, the need for the patient to fight until one might be found is critical.

There is a simple, straight forward reason that I think Jane Gardner's life and courage, and the remarkable story of it as told by a great writer, Elizabeth Simpson Earley fit in a blog site such as ours which strives to promote healthier living and wellbeing.  And that reason is this....more than ever we need to find saving in the healthcare system by finding better healthy living ways to have the chronic, reversible illnesses that can be managed and reduced.  The savings that can be reinvested in finding solutions for those still-mysterious health issues such as cancer.  Finding ways to improve population health through healthier lifestyles being led by people whose chronic illnesses are now costing more than 60% of the costs of the healthcare system can free up precious resources (time, money, talent, treatment regimens and technology) to one-day solve the kinds of cancers that took the life of a truly courageous person.  

Thus, it is clear through her life's work and through her life itself, that Jane Gardner should be recognized as one of the healthcare heroes who are contributing in every way they can to improve the lives of others.

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