1440_405-1116_628-768_432

Building a Legacy


October 13, 2021 Posted in: Patients & Providers , Stories of Giving  3 minute read time

 

Having worked as a licensed genetic counselor at CHI Saint Joseph HealthCancer Care since 2015, Elizabeth Hays, MS, CGC, has always loved science, but she wasn’t sure where the interest would take her until a sibling shared an experience.

“My older sister had prenatal genetic counseling after getting married,” Hays said. “She told me about the appointment and that she saw me doing it as a career. I started looking into it and shadowing other providers. That led me to where I am today.”

Hays enjoys her in-depth appointments with patients to make sure they understand their diagnosis or hereditary risk for disease.

“Genetic testing can guide a patient’s decisions about treatment,” Hays said, noting how genetic testing costs are more affordable today. “If test results show a breast cancer patient has increased risk of developing another breast cancer in the future, she may wish to have a bilateral mastectomy instead of lumpectomy. It’s rewarding to help patients get the best care the first time.”

Extending Care Across the Community

Family is the focus of Hays’ career and what drives her outside of her job. In addition to spending time in a community garden that grows free produce and flowers for people in need where she lives, Hays volunteers for Habitat for Humanity,® an organization that is dear to her heart. Growing up, Hays and her parents and four siblings spent their free time volunteering to build affordable housing for residents in Berea.

“It was my mom’s favorite organization,” Hays said. “When she passed, we wanted to donate to Habitat in her honor. But my dad took it a step further. He said ‘Why don’t we sponsor a house ourselves?’”

Local affiliates with the organization explained this had never been done before in Madison County. They relied on corporate partnerships, donors and grants. But they agreed to let Hays and her family join in sponsoring a home. Hays secured some funding for the project through CHI Saint Joseph Health and its community relations efforts.

Perseverance Makes a Difference

COVID-19 and poor weather posed challenges to the build. Volunteers weren’t allowed to assist with building the house, and a contractor was hired to finish it on time. However, Hays and her family were humbled by the support of others.

“I have 12 nieces and nephews across Cincinnati, Ohio and North Carolina who raised money in their neighborhoods for the project,” Hays said. “We’ve received notes and donations from more than 200 individuals. Everyone wanted to share a small piece in my mom’s memory. Family was important to my mom. She knew the value of having a home base and foundation.”

The experience taught Hays that anything is possible if you are willing to try, a philosophy she adopted from her mother, who was one of 17 children.

“You can do a lot more than you think you can,” she said. “That’s how I approach my patients as well.”

For more information about our genetic testing services, visit CHISaintJosephHealth.org/lexington‑genetic‑cancer‑counseling‑and‑testing.


A version of this article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 edition of Spirit of Health. For more stories like this one, subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine today.

Recent Articles

The Brilliant Light of Love and Humankindness

JAN 19, 2022

When Pamela Smallwood, CMA, CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Primary Care in Mount Sterling, found herself face-to-face with a patient in the midst of heartbreak, she took action to fill the void.

Read More Additional information about The Brilliant Light of Love and Humankindness | Spirit of Health | CHI Saint Joseph Health

What is Neurorehab?

JAN 17, 2022

Recovering from a stroke or any condition that affects a person's balance or coordination requires a specialized form of therapy. Physical therapist Graham Gandee describes neurorehab at CHI Saint Joseph Health – Outpatient Rehabilitation.

Read More Additional information about What is Neurorehab? | Spirit of Health | CHI Saint Joseph Health

Weight Loss Surgery Began ‘A Wonderful Journey’

JAN 12, 2022

Hall, 52, of Lexington had tried for years to lose weight, but it wasn’t working. She’d lose pounds, then gain it back. She finally made the decision - “the best decision I ever made” - to have weight loss surgery.

Read More Additional information about Weight Loss Surgery Began ‘A Wonderful Journey’ | Spirit of Health | CHI Saint Joseph Health