Friend in Need

Cancer survivor still grateful for her “angel”

October 2010

From the very start of her treatment, Margaret Giltinan had the support of an angel who had made it through breast cancer and was there to help her do the same.

The angel was a trained volunteer and cancer survivor from the 4th Angel Mentoring Program, part of The Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative founded by the figure skater and Olympic gold medalist.

For Ms. Giltinan, having someone to talk to who really knew what she was going through made all the difference during her treatment and recovery.

“My 4th Angel called me on Day 1,” she says. “I knew they were trying to match us, but it was positively eerie. It was like taking my chart and putting her name on it. The program matched me identically with someone who had done exactly my tour. It was just phenomenal.”

Nearly seven years after her cancer diagnosis, Ms. Giltinan still expresses gratitude for her 4th Angel. She even had the opportunity to tell Mr. Hamilton what his program meant to her.

In May 2006, not long after her treatment ended, she attended a Cleveland Clinic event. “I was walking through a tent and my shoulder kept banging against someone else’s in the crowd,” she recalls. “Finally, I turned around to apologize and it was Scott Hamilton making his way to the podium.”

She knew he was a celebrity who receives attention all the time, but she couldn’t help herself. She went up to him and said, “I used your CARES program. My 4th Angel walked me through the entire Cleveland Clinic cancer program. It was the greatest gift I ever got. I’m so excited to tell you that you helped save my life, and you weren’t even the doctor!” She could tell he was touched by what she’d told him. “He had tears in his eyes,” she says.

Both Ms. Giltinan and Mr. Hamilton have maintained ties to Cleveland Clinic. In late 2007, she established The Margaret Rose Giltinan Fund for Innovations in Breast Cancer, which supports Joseph Crowe, MD, her surgeon and holder of the Lula Zapis Endowed Chair to Support Breast Cancer Research. She also joined the Leadership Board of the OB/GYN & Women’s Health Institute and, in mid-2008, became its chairwoman.

How 4th Angel Got Its Name

During his own successful treatment for cancer at Cleveland Clinic, Mr. Hamilton identified three “angels” who helped him: his oncology physician, his oncology nurse, and his family and friends who collectively served as his third angel. What he found missing, however, was a fourth angel – someone who had gone through the same experience and understood what he was feeling.

In 1999, he launched The Scott Hamilton Cancer Alliance for Research Education and Survivorship (CARES) Initiative and founded the 4th Angel Mentoring Program at Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute. His annual ice show and gala, “An Evening with Scott Hamilton and Friends,” supports cancer research and services for cancer patients and their families. For more on this year’s event, see Skating for a Cure in this issue or visit the CARES website.

To make an online gift supporting the Taussig Cancer Institute, The Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative, the 4th Angel Mentoring Program, the OB/GYN & Women’s Health Institute or any area of Cleveland Clinic, visit our secure giving site, or call Institutional Relations and Development at 216.444.1245 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext. 41245.

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