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Oncologist’s $500,000 gift to St. Elizabeth’s new Cancer Care Center is designated for ‘comfort care’

Lawrence V. Brennan, M.D. and his wife, Karen A. Enzweiler, have stepped forward to demonstrate their commitment to cancer care and the Northern Kentucky community with a $500,000 gift to St. Elizabeth Foundation for the new Cancer Center under construction at St. Elizabeth Edgewood.

Dr. Brennan, an oncologist for 39 years, practices at St Elizabeth Cancer Care Medical Oncology. He and Karen have lived in Fort Thomas for 35 years, where they raised their five children.

“This will be part of our legacy,” said Karen Enzweiler, who added they dispensed with the idea of a making their gift anonymously because they want to inspire others to give also.

“We need people to know we think enough of this medical center, this cancer center, to step forward with this gift,” Dr. Brennan said. “We need people to know how important this is.”

Dr. Lawrence Brennan and Karen A. Enzweiler

St. Elizabeth’s $140 million Cancer Center will put Northern Kentucky on the map for innovative personal cancer care. The 233,000-square-foot, five-story structure will be the region’s leading cancer center. At the Cancer Center’s groundbreaking in August, the St. Elizabeth Foundation announced it has launched a capital campaign to raise $30 million to support the project.

“This generous gift from one of the region’s most respected oncologists speaks volumes about the quality of care we will be providing at our new Cancer Center,” said Douglas Flora, M.D., Executive Medical Director of Oncology Services for St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

“This Center is being designed with our patient’s experience as our driving motivator, and that’s another reason Dr. Brennan and Karen’s gift is so significant – it goes right to the heart of this Center’s new focus. We plan to treat you like we would our own family members, and that your quality of life is something we take just as seriously as we do fighting your cancer. This donation sends a strong message to the patients and families of our community that this place is about much more than chemotherapy.”

Dr. Brennan and Karen Enzweiler have specifically designated their gift to support the special Palliative Care Center that will be located within the Cancer Center. The Palliative Care Center will bear their names.

“This is not just a chunk of money. This is a philosophical donation,” Dr. Brennan said. “It’s about what’s going inside the Cancer Center to help ensure there will always be palliative care.”

Said Karen: “This is one thing he definitely has an active passion for.”

Dr. Brennan agreed: “There is a huge unmet need for palliative care. And you can’t have a cancer center anymore and not have palliative care.”

Palliative care, often called comfort care, can involve a multidisciplinary team that works with the patient and family to provide medical, social, practical and emotional support to a patient facing a serious or life-threatening diagnosis. It involves treatment to make a patient more comfortable, conversations with family members, practical matters such as living wills. It can start with a patient and family “as soon as someone walks in the door,” Dr. Brennan explained. Palliative care can be provided alongside curative treatment for cancer patients.

“It can help them live longer and better,” Dr. Brennan said.

“It takes some of the stress off the family as well,” Ms. Enzweiler said.

Drawing of new Cancer Center.

Their passion for palliative care is personal, too. They recall the prolonged suffering of Dr. Brennan’s beloved sister, Molly, who died near her 50th birthday a few years ago. Their wish now is that any terminally ill patient could be spared suffering, as much as possible, and given more comfort.

Dr. Brennan’s desire to provide palliative care goes back to his days as a medical resident in oncology. It has continued through his four decades as a practicing oncologist in Kentucky, a state with the highest death rate from cancer. He was one of the founders of St. Elizabeth Hospice and served as its medical director for a number of years even while he kept a full-time practice in oncology. His long association with St. Elizabeth and their family’s deep ties to the community have informed both him and Karen of the significance of St. Elizabeth Healthcare and its new Cancer Center in Northern Kentucky.

“St. Elizabeth is the biggest health-care provider in our community. This is important for the community,” he said.

“We are blessed here that St. Elizabeth will take care of anybody. And the doctors here, for the most part, do too. If you have an illness, St. Elizabeth is going to care for you. They won’t turn you away, and that’s not true everywhere. And you see how much St. Elizabeth cares for the community in all aspects. You see St. Elizabeth’s name everywhere,” Dr. Brennan said.

“It’s the community that matters,” Ms. Enzweiler said. “This gift helps the community.”

The Cancer Center that St. Elizabeth is building in Edgewood is aimed at changing the trajectory of cancer in our region and transforming the community for generations to come. From prevention and screening to precision medicine and individually tailored treatment plans, the continuum of highly personalized care will increase early detection, save lives and improve quality of life for survivors in the Northern Kentucky community.

For more information about the campaign, visit the website or contact the St. Elizabeth Foundation at (859) 301-3920 or cancer.center@stelizabeth.com.

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