6 Stories of Healing and Hope Honored with the 2018 Christmas Tree of Life

Tree of Life 2018 Event Photo

Every year, the Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation hosts the Tree of Life Illumination Ceremony to signal the start of the holiday season.

On December 5 in our hospital’s courtyard, this annual event was dedicated to all those who’ve had a positive impact on our lives. The names and stories honored at this event turn this symbol of the holiday season into a symbol of hope and healing in our community.

There are so many stories of love and remembrance that can be told from this year’s event. Each name that was hung from a tree in our healing garden represents a personal connection with someone who lives or lived in your community. We invite you to stop by our hospital this holiday season to enjoy the holiday lights in the healing garden.

Tree of Life Healing Garden Photo

In the meantime, we wanted to share the special stories of those who helped our tree shine brightly into the night on December 5. These are the stories of our Tree of Life illuminators and a few other community members.

The Family and Friends of Dr. Guillermo E. Sanchez

Dr. Guillermo E. Sanchez Photo

Before his passing in 2018, Dr. Guillermo Sanchez served as the Chief of Staff, Chairman of the Department of Surgery, and Board Member of UM Charles Regional Medical Center. But beyond his titles, Dr. Sanchez was an asset to the health of our community and touched countless lives as an orthopedic surgeon.

We were so humbled to have the family Dr. Sanchez join us at the illumination ceremony and dedicate their light in his memory on this year’s tree.

Quint Burroughs

Quint Burroughs Photo

Earlier this year, University of Maryland student and Charles County resident Quint Burroughs came to UM Charles Regional Medical Center following hospitalization for a head injury and low sodium levels. He is still working towards a full recovery, but he and his family take comfort in knowing that they had somewhere to go nearby to get him the care he needed.

“His treatment was very personable,” Quint’s mother said. “Everyone knew what was going on and was trying to comfort him.”

We were so happy to see Quint at this year’s illumination ceremony and wish him the absolute best as he recovers from his injury.

The Bean Family

Bean Family Photo

After suffering from his first seizure earlier this year, Kimberly Bean’s son, Xavier, was transported to UM Charles Regional Medical Center for testing and treatment. Awaiting the results from his tests, Xavier suffered from another seizure and returned to the hospital. At that time, our Dr. Houston was able to determine that he was showing signs of epilepsy.

“From the moment we arrived at UM CRMC, the doctors, nurses, and medical staff treated Xavier and our family with the utmost care,” Kimberly said. “Because of his persistence, Dr. Houston was able to obtain the information needed to make the decision to prescribe an anti-seizure medication for Xavier.”

Kimberly joined us as one of our illuminators in honor of Dr. Houston and her son, and we wish the entire Bean family well as Xavier continues his treatment for seizures.

Greg Cockerham

Greg Cockerham Photo

Community Bank of the Chesapeake Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer Greg Cockerham and his family have been receiving care from our hospital since the days we were known as Physicians Memorial Hospital. From same-day surgery and trips to the ER to physical rehabilitation and wound healing, Greg and his family have had experiences with nearly every branch of UM Charles Regional.

“I have a great, longstanding relationship with the hospital,” Greg said. “It’s an amazing local hospital and has been for some time. They really value the relationship with their patients.”

We were so excited to welcome Greg to our illumination ceremony and look forward to a continued relationship with him and his family.

Dutch Williams

Dutch Williams Photo

After having his kegel muscles removed to treat his prostate cancer, Dutch Williams found himself in need of assistance to restore his physical strength. He reached out to Sara Hall, DPT, at UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation, who was more than willing to assist in his care.

Dutch’s treatment required an exercise program that he continues to this day as well as regular exams to ensure his muscles are responding appropriately. He has experienced continued improvements as a result of his muscle treatment but credits the informative approach Sara has taken throughout the process.

“It was a wonderful experience that helped me immensely,” he said. “I’m looking forward to coming back.”

Dutch’s story, like so many of our patients’ stories, is one of renewed hope after a life-changing experience, and we were so happy to be able to honor it at the illumination ceremony.

Bobby Stahl

Robert Stahl Photo

Town of La Plata Director of Operations Bobby Stahl came into our ER in August with a pain in his side, and further examination resulted in the removal of his appendix. Following the removal, his pathology results came in showing a cancerous tumor.

Because of the UM Charles Regional’s connection to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Bobby was confidently referred to a doctor who could treat him. He returned to work just days after his surgery and is staying well leading up to his procedure in December.

“The care that I got was exceptional,” Bobby said. “I really felt like they were looking out for my care and, in every situation, they made sure that I was comfortable and addressed my needs. Having the resources of the entire University of Maryland Medical System has been extremely important.”

This Year’s Cause

We, along with the entire Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation team, would like to thank everyone who contributed to this year’s Tree of Life.

As a result of your generosity, more than $4,000 was raised for the upcoming Julie and Bill Dotson Center for Breast Health in La Plata. Once it opens in 2019, this new practice will add to our existing range of services and help us further our mission to making Southern Maryland a healthier, better place to call home.

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Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Discuss Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer, which is defined as any cancer that starts in the colon, rectum or even the large intestine, is a topic that faces a fair amount of stigma in our society. Unfortunately, even though it’s one of the least talked about forms of cancer, it’s also one of the most prevalent in America.

Here are three reasons why it’s so important to come together as a community and openly talk about colorectal cancer this month.

It Can Affect Anyone, at Any Age

Although colorectal cancer is more often associated with those over the age of 45, it can affect anyone regardless of age, race, gender or lifestyle. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that the overall lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 22 (4.49%) for men and 1 in 24 (4.15%) for women.

It’s estimated that there will be over 97,000 new cases of colon cancer and more than 43,000 new cases of rectal cancer. Moreover, the ACS also estimates that colorectal cancer will cause 50,630 deaths during 2018 in the United States alone.

Awareness Results in Prevention

This common form of cancer has always been something of a taboo topic amongst the general population. It’s understandable, but talking about it more openly with each other is the only way to help more people prevent and detect it before it’s too late.

Make no mistake, there is no guaranteed way to prevent colorectal cancer. But by encouraging friends and family members who may be at risk to get screened, you’re able to employ one of the most powerful ways to fight this cancer.

With that said, there are a few things you can do to help improve your level of risk beyond regular screenings, including:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Regular physical activity
  • Enjoying a healthy diet
  • Moderating alcohol consumption
  • Not smoking

Your doctor can help you understand what you should be doing to improve your level of risk as well as when you should be getting screened.

There’s Hope with Treatment Options

Beyond spreading the word about prevention, talking about colorectal cancer also sheds light on potential treatment options for those who are afflicted by the disease. Treatment options vary based on severity and stage, but surgery is often necessary to remove tumors caused by colorectal cancer.

Talking about the cancer and its treatment options are an important part of ensuring that others know that there’s still hope after a diagnosis. In fact, the National Cancer Institute’s data shows that the 5-year survival rate for people with stage I cancer is about 87%.

It’s up to all of us to work towards removing the stigma that surrounds colorectal cancer. By educating yourself, understanding your own risk and helping others understand their risk levels, you can make a huge difference in your family and in your community.

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Get Informed About Colorectal Cancer This Month


When it comes to awareness, few cancers have quite as much stigma surrounding them as does colorectal cancer.

It’s one of the most common yet least talked about forms of cancer in the United States. That’s why it’s so important for us to help get people talking about what it is, how it can be prevented and what the treatment options are.

What is colorectal cancer?
Essentially, any cancer that starts in the colon, rectum or even the large intestine is termed colorectal cancer. It’s most often found in people 45 or older, but it can occur at any age.

What are the warning signs?
The strongest weapon against colorectal cancer is early detection. Here are just a few of the warning signs that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to as possible indicators that colorectal cancer is present:

  • Changes in stool or bowel habits
  • Stomach pains, aches or cramps that don’t go away
  • Unexplained weight loss

Your doctor can help you determine if these symptoms are from cancer or some other problem, so it’s important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these.

How can I prevent it?
Although studies are still being conducted to determine the best ways to reduce risk factors of developing colorectal cancer, these are the things you can do right now to reduce or limit your risk:

  • Quit smoking — Smoking increases your risk for many types of cancers and ailments
  • Limit alcohol consumption — Moderation is key to limiting risk factors
  • Eat right — Diets high in fat and calories put you at greater risk
  • Get moving — Obesity puts you at higher risk, so get out, get active and get fit
  • Understand family history — If your family has a history of colorectal cancer, you’re at higher risk
  • Get screened — If you’re over 45, talk to your doctor about the best screening options

What are the treatment options?
Surgery is often necessary to remove tumors from colorectal cancer. The type of procedure varies depending on the severity of the cancer and the stage at which it’s discovered. To learn more about what procedures are used to treat and remove colorectal cancer, visit our Online Health Library.

Talking about colorectal cancer is one of the best ways to spread awareness. By educating yourself and understanding your own risk, you can help others learn more about this devastating disease, too.

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