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Carilion Receives $1 Million Gift To Advance Cancer Care in Region

Roanoke businessman and longtime community benefactor Maury Strauss has donated $1 million in honor of his late wife, Sheila, to support the expansion of Carilion Clinic’s cancer program. The cause is close to Maury’s heart after losing his wife of 65 years to cancer in 2016.

“We are so grateful to Maury for the opportunity to honor Sheila’s memory as we continue to advance cancer care for our region,” said Nancy Howell Agee, Carilion’s president and chief executive officer. “The thousands of patients in our region diagnosed each year with cancer deserve access to the latest, most advanced care right here.”

Carilion has more than five decades of experience treating cancer. In partnership with Blue Ridge Cancer Care, the health system provides comprehensive cancer care for adult and pediatric patients – from diagnosis and treatment to rehabilitation and survivorship – and seeks to advance care through research and clinical trials.

The growing number of patients with cancer has Carilion’s current cancer center operating at capacity. Carilion has seen a 40% increase in patient volume over the past 10 years and treated more than 2,000 new cancer patients last year alone.

“Advances in science and technology are revolutionizing what it means to have cancer, and dramatically increasing survivability,” said William A.  Fintel, M.D., a medical oncologist and hematologist who joined Carilion in 2019 after more than 30 years in practice to lead the growth of the health system’s oncology program. “We want to bring personalized care, advanced technology and treatment options, sophisticated clinical trials and cutting-edge research to patients in our region, as well as train the next generation of oncologists.”

After Sheila’s bladder cancer diagnosis, the Strausses traveled out of state for Sheila to participate in a clinical trial. Expanding the number and scope of clinical trials available locally was the primary motivation for his gift. Strauss’s gift builds on the couple’s belief in the importance of giving back. Spanning decades, the aim of their community involvement has been to make life better for others.

“Health care is one of the most important things in any community, and what Carilion has done to advance care in the Roanoke Valley is remarkable,” said Strauss. “I want to see that continue for generations to come.”

“I’m inspired by Maury’s selfless generosity. He embodies the true meaning of philanthropy: giving out of love for others and a genuine desire to improve their lives,” said Ralph Alee, Carilion Clinic’s vice president for philanthropy. “We are grateful to be the beneficiary of his transformational gift that will shape the future of cancer care in our region for decades.”

Carilion’s oncology program has been accredited by the Commission on Cancer since 1979 and ranked “high performing” for colon cancer and lung cancer surgery by U.S. News & World Report.

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