[Originally published in CPMC's community newsletter Beyond Medicine, fall 2007]
I Hope That I Can Be an Example for Others to Follow
Approaching fourscore years of life, Bryan Hemming has lived on two continents, traveled to the world’s far corners, and seen the places and sights that many of us only experience through TV and magazines. Yet when asked about his favorite destination, his answer is always the same: “Coming home to San Francisco.”
One of the reasons Hemming so loves his adopted hometown is the high-quality care he receives at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC).
“My relationship with the hospital goes back many years,” Hemming says. “And Dr. Brotman (Martin Brotman, M.D., president and CEO of CPMC) has been my doctor for at least 40 years. The hospital and Dr. Brotman are both wonderful.”
Hemming, at age 76, is still active, still going strong, regularly attending events that support the opera, the ballet and fine arts museums. He is also a writer, works as a consumer investigative reporter, and contributed a chapter to the book, “50 Walks of San Francisco.” But along the way, he has faced down his share of health issues.
As a child living in London during World War II, Hemming lost a lung. Later, after moving to San Francisco in the early ’50s, he developed back and other problems. Most recently, he has battled cancer.
Bryan Hemming Cancer Care Center
“In 2001,” Hemming says, “I developed an insidious form of cancer, medullary thyroid cancer. Dr. Brotman steered me in the right direction, to my surgeon, Dr. Mark Singer, from whom I received the best of care.”
Several surgeries later, Hemming says he remains “beholden” to CPMC, as well as his doctors, nurses and technicians, for the care he received.
“Having successfully gone through the medical and emotional trauma of cancer, I vowed to give back,” says Hemming.
In March of this year, Hemming completed a generous $5 million planned gift involving an annuity, an estate pledge and a testamentary charitable remainder trust. With his gift, California Pacific is creating the Bryan Hemming Cancer Care Center, scheduled to open in 2008.
The cancer center will consolidate a number of patient support services under one roof. These include a patient navigator system, genetic and nutritional counseling, social services, space for support groups, a chemotherapy infusion suite, and a store for items such as wigs and prosthesis.
“It’s My Legacy to Leave”
“When I was first diagnosed I didn’t know what to do—I needed to be guided,” says Hemming. “That inspired me to create a ‘haven’ for all people with cancer—and I wanted to create this while I was still here. My gift plan does help with my retirement income, but what this truly means to me is that cancer patients will have a place to go for comfort and peace of mind.
“I’ve lived the English-American dream, coming to San Francisco, having some success and seeing the world. Now, I’m content to watch this project grow, to enable others to have the excellent care that I was privileged to have …. It’s my legacy to leave.
“I had a very strong support group with my cancer, and (the Cancer Center) will have people that patients can talk to and be guided by, in addition to treatment rooms,” he says. “This will be their place, a patients’ place.
“I’m giving by example, and I hope that I may be an example for others to follow.”